Gordon Ramsay and Pork Belly
Gordon Ramsay is one of my culinary heroes, not only because he’s an amazing chef with 12 Michelin Stars but he makes some damned entertaining food television. Like a lot of amateur chefs, TV was where I started to learn how to cook and today, I still can’t get enough of food shows. Most folks will know Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen where he spends more time shouting profanities at hapless contestants and throwing things than actually cooking. It’s still one of his most popular shows since it has an audience not only with the wannabe chef crowd but also those that like trashy reality TV.
Ramsay is, however, best in more food-centric shows where he can really let his passion for the culinary arts shine rather than calling people donkey every ten seconds. Masterchef is fantastic and really inspiring creatively because it features amateur home cooks just like you and I. I mean, they’re all amazingly talented but hey, everyone has to start somewhere and they show that all sorts of people can learn to cook as long as you’re interested. Heck, season 3 winner Christine can’t even see the things she’s making on the stove!
Lately I’ve been watching Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course, which just wrapped up it’s first series of 20 episodes. The show is based on simplifying cooking, teaching professional technique to the home chef as well as simple but delicious recipes. I’ll be cooking some of those recipes here in the future but I highly recommend this series for chefs of all skill levels. Lots to be learned from this show, including the slow roasted pork belly you see up above.
Out of all of those, my favorite Gordon Ramsay show has to be The F Word, which has gone on for 5 seasons on the UK’s Channel 4. It’s basically a cooking variety show with a bit of a cooking competition both between Ramsay and a celebrity guest (cooking a dish of the guest’s choice) as well as between competitors looking to win a trophy and some money. The format is somewhat like my actual favorite show, Top Gear, in that there’s short films surrounding a studio format. Ramsay teaches some of his best recipes here, including this one for a pressed pork belly (NSFW language…briefly):
I’ve actually made this recipe before and I can vouch for it’s deliciousness. I can’t seem to come up with any pictures of it though but it’s such a cheap and easy recipe, I might just make it again. In case you want to as well, here’s the recipe.
- 1.3kg belly of pork
- 2 heads of garlic, halved horizontally
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- handful of thyme sprigs
- olive oil, to drizzle
- generous splash of white wine
- 450ml brown chicken stock
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2. Untie the belly of pork if it is rolled and lay it flat on a chopping board. Score the skin evenly in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Turn the belly skin side down and cut a slit through the thick end of the pork to open it out like a butterfly so that the meat is evenly thick throughout. Rub all over with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Tip: A clean and sharp Stanley knife (or craft knife) is the most effective tool for scoring the tough pork skin.
3. Place the garlic, halved side up, on a lightly oiled roasting tray and scatter over the thyme sprigs. Lay the pork belly on top, fat side up. Trickle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Add a splash of white wine around the pork, cover the meat with a piece of foil and bake for 1½ hours. Remove the foil, baste the pork with the juices and return to the oven, uncovered, for another ½-1 hour until the meat is tender. Continue to baste the pork occasionally with the pan juices.
4. Transfer the pork to a clean chopping board and leave to cool slightly. While still warm, place another tray on top of the pork and weigh down with a few heavy tins to flatten it. Cool completely, then chill for four hours or overnight in the refrigerator to set its shape.
5. Pour off any excess oil from the roasting tray and place over high heat. Deglaze the tray with a generous splash of white wine, scraping the bottom and crushing the heads of garlic with a wooden spoon to release the sediment. Boil the liquid until reduced by half, then add the chicken stock and bring back to the boil until reduced and thickened. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pressing down on the garlic pulp with the back of a ladle. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
6. Heat the oven to the highest setting, about 250 degrees Celsius.
7. Cut the pressed pork into individual portions or squares and pat the skin dry with kitchen paper. Place the pork squares, fat side up, in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil and a generous pinch of sea salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Rest the pork for 5 minutes, then serve with the light gravy and accompaniments.