Ginger beer braised pork belly with crunchy crackling

Ginger beer braised pork belly with crunchy crackling

Pork-BellyI don’t often cook Pork but this recipe is so easy and so tasty I made it twice last week to feed the masses. If you need something that doesn’t use a lot of pots and have no time to spend in the kitchen then this is the one for you. The whole preparation takes less than 5 minutes and then you forget about it for 3-4 hours. A lot of the fat dissolves when cooking, I was amazed at how little was left.

This will feed 6 people no problem.

What you need

2 kg piece of pork belly skin on (ask the butcher for a piece that has as little bone as possible)
2 15cm pieces of Rosemary or about 2 teaspoons dry rosemary
6 sprigs fresh Sage
1 liter Ginger beer
300ml water
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 large pinches of salt crystals

The process

Place the pork belly in a roasting pan (the sides should be at least 6cm high.

Pour in the ginger beer until it is almost at the level of the skin and then top up with water until the liquid touches the highest piece of the belly… Don’t worry of it goes a little over the edge and onto the skin.

Place the Cracked pepper corns, Rosemary and Sage into the liquid and then sprinkle the salt onto the skin and into the water.

Now cover with aluminum foil and place it in a 170 Celsius oven for 3-4 hours.

You don’t need to check on it or watch it, just leave it and do what you need to.

After 4 hours remove from the oven, increase the oven temp to 250 Celsius.

Remove the Pork belly from the liquid and peel off the skin, it’s the same as removing the skin from a gammon, it will peel of pretty easily.

Now place the pork belly back into the hot liquid and cover it up again.

Cut the skin into strips about 3cm wide and 10cm long, then place on a baking tray and pop back into the oven to crisp up.

The skin will pop and jump around on the tray but don’t worry when they are blistered white and light brown, they are done. (get as much blistering on each piece as possible)

Slice the pork belly and place on a serving plate then take a little of the juice from the oven dish and spoon over the meat.

Done and dusted, serve with mash, peas and gravy.


Strain off 300ml or so of the liquid into a small pot and add 1 stock pot (these knorr stock pots are fantastic) bring it to the boil and add about 1 tablespoon Bisto. Simmer until nicely thickened.

Slow-Cooked Beef Short Ribs

Slow-Cooked Beef Short Ribs

Short-RibBeef short ribs are the ideal replacement for lamb shanks. Not only are they so tasty they are also quite affordable. Don’t be put off by the sinew and fat in the cut; they disappear when cooked in the wine and stock. The end result being a tender mouth watering dish that your friends and family will be talking about for a long time.

What you need

Olive oil
6 Thick cut short ribs (1.2 – 1.5 kg)
1 Large head of garlic cut in half horizontally
1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
1 750ml bottle red wine
1 litre beef stock
150g bacon bits
250g button mushrooms cut into slices
Sea salt and black pepper
Chopped parsley to garnish
Feeds 4-6 people

The process

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Season the short ribs well. Pour some olive oil in a deep-sided roasting pan. Place the pan on a stove plate and brown the meat on all sides. Add the garlic and the tomato puree and heat for a minute or two. Pour the red wine into the pan and scrape the bits at the bottom loose. Boil for 10-15 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half. Pour in the beef stock and bring to the boil while continuously basting the ribs.

Cover the pan with foil and place into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender and falling away from the bone. Keep basting the ribs every now and then. Be sure to check the liquid in the pan at the same time so that it does not cook dry. Just add water when needed.

About 10 minutes before the ribs are ready to come out, fry the bacon bits and mushrooms until tender. When the short ribs are ready, take out of the oven and place them on a serving dish. Place the pan with remaining gravy on the stove plate and add the mushrooms and bacon. Bring to the boil. You can add a small amount of maizena to thicken the sauce if it needs to. Serve the ribs topped with the gravy.

Roast Prime Rib on the bone

Roast Prime Rib on the bone

prime rib roast on the bone

Prime Rib on the Bone

I have recently moved into a new place and had a few friends over for dinner so decided a good roast was in order and what surprised me was the price of prime rib on the bone at under R60/kg. I used 1.8kg which was plenty for the 5 of us and it was so incredibly tasty it is something I will be doing over and again. (for 4-6 people)

Anyway, the dinner was a real hit, Prime rib roast, melanzane (they literally raved about it) and a potato bake with mushrooms that also got rave reviews to almost embarrassing proportions. So if you want a real winner, these are the recipes. (I laso served a few gem squash topped with cheese. (It’s not the healthiest meal bu man it was delicious!

A tip: When you select your prime rib ask the butcher to cut through the bone at the base so that you can easily cut the portions, I got mine from Pick n Pay on William Nicol near Parkmore and the butchery was very helpful.

What you need

1.8 to 2 kg Prime rib on the bone
Salt and pepper
Fresh Thyme stalks

Thyme butter

100g softened butter
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

The process

Heat your oven to 200 Celsius

Stuff a few stalks of Thyme into each cut at the base of the roast cut by the butcher. Turn it over, place on a roasting dish that is covered with tin foil (makes cleaning simple) and then use a generous coating of ground salt and pepper to cover the meat.

Place in the oven for 1 and 1/2 hours. This will give you medium and medium rare on the end 2 portions and rare portions in the middle.

Always leave it to rest for about 10 minutes after removing from the oven

To make the thyme butter, soften it in the microwave for about 20 seconds, add the chopped thyme and add a grind of black pepper and salt. Mix it up and then place on a piece of cling wrap. Roll it up and twist the ends until it is tight. Fold the ends and then pop in the fridge to harden.

Cut a slice of herb butter and place on top of each persons meat.

Mediterranean Pork and Chorico dinner

Mediterranean Pork and Chorico dinner

mediterranean pork with chorico dinner

Delicious Spicy Pork with Chorico

This Mediterranean style stew was really fantastic and you could use any spicy sausage if you don’t have chorico, even a good pork sausage would do the trick, just add a little paprika into the mix. It has plenty of sauce and the crushed grilled potatoes are the perfect  side dish to pick up the sauce. Really, if you like pork and a bit of spice in your food, you are going to love this one, it’s perfect winter food. (makes 4 servings)

What you need

500g baby potatoes boiled
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

500g Pork fillet cut into bite size chunks
150g chorico or your favourite spicy sausage sliced
1 medium onion sliced
1 tin chopped peeled tomatoes (440g)
Pinch chili flakes (1/2 to 1 teaspoon depending on how spicy you like it)
Juice of 1 lemon
pinch sugar

The process

First off put you grill on and while that is heating crush each baby potato with you hand or a fork so that it splits and place on a baking tray. Season with salt and ground pepper and then drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over the potatoes and then place under the grill for about 10 minutes or so until nicely crisped up.

While that is happening place a pan on a medium to high heat, add a little oil and fry the pork pieces, tossing them about every so often until lightly browned all over and cooked through. Remove and set aside.

Fry the chorico in the same pan until you notice the fat being released. Now add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes tossing every now and then. You want them to start softening but not browning (add a tiny bit more oil if needed).

Now add the tomatoes, lemon juice, chili and sugar. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil, stir about for a bit and simmer for 10 minutes so that all of those flavours meld together beautifully and some of the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates. (Don’t forget to check your potatoes – remove them when ready0

Now add back the pork and simmer for another 2 minutes or so to heat it through.

Thats that, done and dusted… a delicious Mediterranean meal!

Winter recipes

Winter recipes

Winter is such a great time to stay in and create some of those recipes that fill your home with mouth watering smells so I have put together a few ideas for you.

Winter Meat Recipes

Stews and bredies are must do meals for winter and the lasagna is another of those proper comfort foods that hits the mark every time. These are just a few of my favourites, so be sure to browse around in the Beef recipes, Lamb recipes or the Meat recipes as a whole, you may just find exactly what you feel like tonight.

Meat Lasagna

Easy Lamb Casserole

Tomato Bredie recipe

Lamb cottage pie

Winter Chicken recipes

I can never get enough of a good chicken curry in the winter and if you have not tried the chicken broccoli bake yet, you must give it a go. Take a look at the rest of the chicken recipes as well, there are a few real winners in there.

Chicken Curry

Chicken potato Cakes

Chicken Broccoli Bake

Quick Ginger Ale Chicken

Soup Recipes

Here are a few of my favourite soup recipes. As the weather cools off there is always a pot of soup on the stove, makes for healthy tasty, warming any time meals and of course it’s a perfect way to get your daily veggie intake. There a quite a few other great soup recipes, so take a peek.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Butternut and Sweet potato soup

Minestrone soup

Mixed mince meatloaf

Mixed mince meatloaf

pork and beef meatloaf recipe

Mixed mince meat loaf

The mixture of pork and beef with a hint of sage in this meatloaf recipe is something quite marvelous. I am a big fan of meatloaf, it’s cheap, makes a great easy dinner and is fantastic on sandwiches. It’s really important to use extra lean mince especially with the pork and to keep it nice and moist either put a bowl of water in the oven when cooking it or put the loaf tin in a roasting pan with some water in it.

What you need

1 small onion grated
1 medium carrot grated
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage (or 1 heaped teaspoon dry sage)
300g lean pork mince
200g lean beef mince
1/2 cup breadcrumds
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon English mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

The process

Prepare a baking tray or small loaf tin(17cmx11cmx8cm) by smearing it with a little oil and heat your oven to 180 Celsius.

In a pan on a medium heat add the onion and carrot and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes until it begins to soften, add the garlic and cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so for another 3 or 4 minutes.

Now add the sage and give it a good mix through and then remove from the pan and place into a large mixing bowl.

Add the pork mince, beef mince, breadcrumbs, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and the mustard if you decide to use it. Now get you hands in there and mix it well to evenly distribute all of the vegetables. Give it a light seasoning with a bit of salt and black pepper and then a final mix.

If you are using a baking tray, place it into the center of the tray and form into a loaf shape or place into your loaf tin and pack it down quite well.

Place in the oven with an oven proof bowl containing about 500ml water.

Bake at 180 Celsius for 45 minutes until the loaf is firm. If you are serving it hot, allow it to cool slightly for about 5-10 minutes before turning out and slicing.

Serve with peas and mash or any of your favourite vegetables.

Here is a more traditional meatloaf recipe with tomato sauce topping.

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the Hole

traditional english toad in the hole recipe

Toad in the hole

Don’t let the few ingredients fool you on this Toad in the hole recipe, it is fantastic. The batter will rise and rise and you will be tempted to open the oven, but resist and you will be rewarded with a puffed up Yorkshire pud that is hard to beat. If the areas below the sausages are a little wet don’t fret, this is exactly what you are meant to have. (for 3-4 people)

What you need

6-8 pork/beef sausages
1 1/2 tablespoon oil
225g plain flour (it is important to measure it)
4 large eggs
250ml full cream milk

The process

Heat your oven to 200 Celsius while you prepare, it is very important to place the dish in a hot oven.

You can use a metal roasting pan or an oven proof dish for this recipe that should be something close to 30cm x 20cm and have sides at least 7cm high.

Add the oil to your dish or pan and arrange the sausages in the base, place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes to cook the sausages while you prepare the Yorkshire pudding recipe. I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to get good quality sausages, some sausages have way too much fat in them and shrink down to these little tiddlers.

In a mixing bowl, add the flour, 3/4 of the milk and eggs, whisk it to a smooth consistency and then add the last of the milk in 2 portions mixing well between each addition. You will have a nice smooth, quite runny consistency. Season with a little salt and white pepper, give it a final whisk and transfer to a jug.

Take the sausage out of the oven and with tongs or a fork, move them around a bit so that none of the sausages are stuck to the bottom and try to leave equal spaces between the sausages. Now slowly pour the mixture in between the sausages so that they are almost covered.

Return to the oven for about 40 minutes and watch the Yorkshire pudding rise. It will rise above the edge of the dish. Check after 35 minutes or so to ensure that it does not burn. The Yorkshire pud should be a deep brown. puffed up and the sausages should be partly visible.

Serve straight away with a nice gravy. There is no reason why you could not use chicken sausages if you are averse to meat!

Perfect Brunch

Perfect Brunch

brunch recipe

Brunch recipe

When you have had a busy weekend with friends and family and have all sorts of leftovers, or if you just want something a little different for breakfast or brunch, try this fantastic recipe. It is full of flavour, is inexpensive and can easily be adapted to what you have in the fridge. The only thing I will recommend that yoyu make sure you add is some fresh basil. If you don;t have fresh basil, go out to PnP or a nursery and get yourself a basil plant, they grow like weeds and you will always have fresh basil for those simple pasta dishes which are brilliant after the punishing your credit card took over December or for end of month tasty meals. This serves 4 quite easily and will keep in the fridge for a few days.

What you need

1 x tin butter beans (400g)
Palm of fresh basil ripped (about 10 leaves)
1 x vegetable stock cube (chicken is also fine)
400g cooked potatoes (use leftover potatoes if you have or just boil up a few)
200g cherry tomatoes
1/3 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
150g green beans chopped
6 – 8 pork/beef sausages cooked and sliced
Salt and pepper
oil for frying
Eggs (however many you like per person)

The process

Drain the liquid off the butter beans and place in a bowl. Give them a light crush with a fork, you are after a broken bean not a mash.

Add most of the basil leaves by ripping them up fairly small and dropping them into the bowl. Now take the stock cube and crumble it into the bowl.

If you are using the chili flakes, add them now and then add the potatoes, green beans cherry tomatoes. (Your patoates should also be quite rustic looking, cut into bite size bits or baby potatoes that have been crushed)

Now add the sliced sausages and give them all a good mix to combine all of the flavours. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat some oil in a large non stick frying pan and cook on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes giving it a mix occasionally until you get a nice little crust forming.

Give each person a generous portion and top with one or two eggs and a few bits of ripped basil.

A really nice variation is to use left over pumpkin or butternut to the mixture.

This is a fantastic breakfast or a hearty home style meal that you can serve with a little salad on the side.

Seared Beef Carpaccio

Seared Beef Carpaccio

seared beef fillet carpacio

Beef carpaccio

Carpaccio is a perfect hot weather starter and a few weeks ago I made it for a dinner party along with the Eton Mess as a dessert and it went down so well I will be doing it again and again. The main was a slow roasted pork belly done by a mate of mine who is legendary with pork.

The best part of this recipe is that it is so simple, takes so little effort and is incredibly delicious. You do need a very sharp knife for this one, without it you will battle. You need about about 50g of meat per person maximum and depending on how thin you cut it. I didnt have the time to let it freeze so mine was a bit thicker than normal and quite difficult to cut but went down just as well. (8-10 people)

What you need

500g Fillet steak trimmed of any fat
salt and pepper
Paprika powder
Parmesan cheese (you want quite a hard piece so go to a good deli)
Olive oil
Salad greens (lettuse, rocket, red leaves, basil)
Baby tomatoes halved

The process

Cover a chopping board with a nice layer of salt, pepper and sprinkle of paprika. Roll your fillet over the salt mixture giving it a nice coat all over.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan to very hot and sear the fillet so that the entire outside is beautifully golden all over. Remove it from the heat and let it cool for about ten minutes.

Now wrap it up tightly in some cling film and pop it into the freezer for about 2 hours or until about 15 mins before you are going to serve.

When you are ready to serve take it out of the freezer and set it aside while you prepare the platters by tearing the greens and placing the tomatoes all over the platter.

Now unwrap your fillet and with a very sharp knife cut thin slices and place them all over the greens.

Now take your parmesan and with a potato peeler slice up a whole lot of thin pieces and place them on top of the carpaccio.

Drizzle generously with olive oil and give the whole platter a good grind of black pepper and salt. For something really special get a bottle of capers in brine and sprinkle a few over the top.

It’s really yummy folks, give it a go on a special occasion.

Sunday Roast lamb

Sunday Roast lamb

Roast shoulder of lamb

Roast shoulder of lamb

There is nothing more delectable than preparing lamb for friends and family for Sunday lunch. The tanginess of French mustard adds to the unique flavours of this tender and delicious shoulder of lamb (it is very important that the meat is set aside to marinate for 4 hours). If the roast lamb has been frozen, ensure that it is left to thaw overnight and is completely defrosted.

What You Need

1 1/2 kg shoulder of lamb
60 ml granular mustard
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Quarter of a teaspoon of ground ginger

The Process

Put the French mustard, crushed garlic, soy sauce, thyme and ginger into a bowl.

Gradually add in the olive oil, while stirring, and ensure that everything is well combined.

Gently rub the mixture over the shoulder of lamb and allow it to marinate in a cool place for 4 hours. You want the meat at room temperature when you pop it into the oven.

Place the shoulder of lamb on a rack in a roasting pan, cover with tin foil and roast in a 140 Celsius oven  for 3 hours, then uncover, increase the heat to 180 and leave it for another 30 minutes or so. You want a nice dark crust on the outside.

Once the lamb has been roasted, it is essential that it is left to rest for about 15 minutes before carving (this helps to retain juices, which enhances flavour and prevents the meat from becoming dry). If you have ever cut into a roast and had juices flood your cutting board, that is because the moisture in the meat is still too hot, simple as that.

Serve it with roast potatoes and steamed broccoli and cauliflower smothered in a white/cheese sauce

Remember to make a delicious gravy to accompany this great lamb dish. By spooning off some of the fat and using the juices that are left behind in the roasting pan, you will get all the necessary flavours.