24-year-old style advisor Rachel recently moved in with her boyfriend and was desperate to impress his family with a meal that would "blow granny's socks off".
She took seven days off work to devise, practice and hone her spectacular three course dinner and after many trials and experiments came up with the perfect main, Confit of Winter Spiced Belly Pork with Duet of Vegetable Mousse. The meal was a triumph, granny loved it and Rachel's confit of belly is now her signature dish.
Rachel loves food and learnt to cook with her mother, grandmother and by observing the chefs in
the pub where she worked. She considers herself an experimental cook as she likes to be inspired by
existing recipes to create her own unique version of a dish.
For the pork:
½ side of belly pork (about 500g), scored and cleaned
1kg coarse salt, or enough to completely cover the belly
2 tbsp ground mixed spice
3 oranges, thickly sliced
2 large garlic bulbs, cloves separated but unpeeled
2 tsp peppercorns
1. star anise, broken up
1.25–2kg goose or duck fat for covering the pork
For the orange vegetable mousse:
350g butternut or winter squash, deseeded and chopped
into 1cm dice
3 carrots, chopped into 1cm dice
1 parsnip, chopped into 1cm dice
groundnut oil for coating
¼ - ½ tsp sesame oil (or to taste)
4 tsp honey
¼ whole nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
zest of ½ orange (or to taste)
For the white vegetable mousse:
½ head of celeriac, chopped into 1cm dice
4 medium parsnips, chopped into 1cm dice
2 small turnips, chopped into 1cm dice
60ml dry sherry
4 bay leaves
3–4 tbsp double cream
¼ tsp vegetable bouillon powder
¼ tsp white pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g walnuts, toasted and chopped
⅓ apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1. Place the pork in a deep dish and rub with a handful of the salt and the mixed spice. Cover with the remaining salt, then place in the fridge for 24 hours.
2. The following day, preheat the oven to its lowest temperature. Place half the orange slices and half
the garlic in a deep, heavy lidded casserole dish. Add half the cloves, half the peppercorns and half
the star anise. Warm gently until the fat becomes gloopy.
3. Brush the salt off the pork, then sit the meat on top of the garlic and orange. Add the remaining
orange slices, garlic and spices. Pour the fat over the top until it’s 4–5cm (1½–2in) above the pork.
Cover with the lid and place in the oven for 18 hours.
4. Remove the casserole from the oven and set aside until completely cold. Remove the solidified fat
from around the pork and cut the meat into a pleasing shape.
5. To serve, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Put the meat in a roasting tin and roast for 20–35 minutes, until the crackling is crisp and a rich caramel colour.
6. Meanwhile, make the orange mousse. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Place all the
ingredients, apart from the zest, in a roasting tin and mix thoroughly. Roast for 30 minutes, or
until soft and browning. Transfer the contents of the tin to a saucepan set over a low heat. Add the
orange zest and whiz with a stick blender until you have a smooth, firm consistency. Loosen
with a little double cream if you wish. This mousse is best served immediately, but can be reheated
later if required.
7. To make the white mousse, place the vegetables in a steamer set over a pan of simmering water to which you have added the sherry and bay leaves. Steam for 10–15 minutes, or until cooked. Empty the saucepan, reserving the bay leaves. Place the vegetables in the emptied pan over a low heat and whiz with a stick blender, gradually adding the cream, until you have a moderately stiff,
smooth mousse. Add the bouillon powder and pepper to taste while blending. Taste and add salt if
necessary. Like the orange mousse, this is best served immediately, but can be reheated later
8. To serve the finished dish, place an 8cm (3¼in) ring mould on each plate. Place 3 tablespoons of the white mousse in each mould, then remove the ring. Place a portion of the pork on the white
mousse, and put a quenelle of orange mousse on top of that. Garnish each quenelle with a couple of
rocket leaves and scatter each plate with the walnuts, apple and rocket.