Pork belly with white beans, quince and garlic toast

Thomasina Miers makes her Spanish-inspired dinner party main, which is bursting with flavours and is worth the 3 hour wait
By Thomasina Miers
Pork belly with white beans, quince and garlic toast
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus overnight marinating and soaking
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • small handful sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 heads garlic, cloves separated
  • 4 pieces pork belly, about 200g each
  • 8 shallots, skin on
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 11 fresh bay leaves
  • 200 ml fino sherry
  • 150 ml water
  • 250 g white beans, soaked overnight
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon, pared zest only
  • 4 pieces sourdough bread, or country bread
  • extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
  • 4 tsp membrillo (quince cheese)
  • handful of parsley, to finish

For the chicory and watercress salad

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • heads chicory
  • bunch watercress, large stalks removed

Method

1. Gently toast the fennel seeds in a dry frying pan until slightly coloured, then grind in a pestle and mortar. Add 2 garlic cloves, sage, salt and pepper, grind to a paste and spread all over the pork pieces. Leave for at least an hour or preferably overnight.

2. The next day, preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8.

3. Heat half the oil in a wide casserole pan and brown the rest of the garlic cloves and the shallots (in their skins) until they are golden and sweet. Remove with a spoon and add the rest of the oil. Brown the pork on all sides. Remove the pork and add 6 bay leaves and sherry to the pan so that it bubbles up and deglazes the pan. Put the pieces of pork back in the pan, add the water and cover well. Put in the oven and roast for 2 hours, turning the oven down to 190C/has mark 5 after the first half hour.

4. Cover the beans by 8cm of cold water together with the smashed garlic, olive oil, 5 bay leaves and lemon. Bring to simmering point, cover and cook for 1 ½ -2 hours.

5. For the chicory and watercress salad: bash the garlic in a pestle and mortar with the salt. When you have a smooth paste, add the sugar and then vinegar and oil. Season further with pepper and more salt if needed. Pour over the shallots and leave to macerate for 10 minutes.

6. Pull the leaves away from the chicory bulbs and pour over the shallots. Scatter over the watercress and set aside.

7. Toast the bread and rub with a cut side of garlic. Spread a smear of quince on each slice and spoon over some of the beans. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and top with a piece of pork belly. Finish with torn parsley. Serve the chicory salad on the side.

Cooks tip: try to use a good quality sherry vinegar in this salad as it has much more depth and sweetness to it and less tartness.

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