May 1st started out with a bang! I was up at the crack of dawn--do people really get up at 6am on a regular basis? How wrong!! Anyway, Sean and I had big plans for the day. We were hitting up St. Lawrence Market and then cooking the rest of the day at Sean's house. On the menu were recipes from one of Sean's latest cookbooks, The Country Cooking of Ireland. We were to start off with leek and potato soup (I can't remember the Irish name for it), as well as Colcannon (a mashed potato with kale and green onions) as well as roast pork belly and irish soda bread, the latter Sean had made the night before.
Here's a look at the recipe we used:And the steps:Here's the book version of the roast pork belly:So we got to work! Here was the star of the show, which Sean later salted and peppered: I began chopping up the onion but Sean took over because my eyes were burning:I placed the onions in a roasting pan:
Sean was chopping up the sage and garlic in the meanwhile:And then I sprinkled half of that on top of the sliced onions:
Sean poured some chicken stock into the pan and then laid the pork belly (skin side up) on top of the onions:He sprinkled on the rest of the sage and then I placed eight cloves on top, along with allspice and cinnamon (which we forgot about but remembered later, nevermind that though):
Sean stuck it in the oven, preheated at 300F, for quite some time (three hours!) and after that he took it out and it looked like this:Then Sean covered the skin with brown sugar and increased the temperature to 400F. Once preheated, Sean stuck it back into the oven.After 20 minutes, it came out looking like this:Sean then poured the juices over the pork belly and stuck it back into the oven for 10 more minutes. Was it ever going to be ready?! It was smelling SO good! Finally, after 10 minutes, it was done:
Check out that skin:Sean had transferred the pork to a platter and then we had to let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Ugh, more waiting:
Finally it was time to carve!I forgot to take a pic of the platter all set with the sliced-up pork belly but it looked identical to the photo from the book. (Sean's parents were pretty darn hungry at that point.)
Here's my plate from the evening:
Clockwise from top: Fiddleheads sauteed in garlic and butter, pork belly (yum!), onions from pork belly roasting pan, colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale, basically). It was a ridiculously great dinner; well worth the effort it took to make and really, it didn't take that long. I just totally made it seem longer than it was. I highly recommend making roast pork belly.
After dinner, Sean and I took Heidi (Sean's family's German Sheppard) for a walk. We headed to the nearby reservoir and look what we saw:Wild blackberry bushes! There were a whole bunch of them along a pathway near the water. They're still fairly small (compared to the one in my backyard) and are not flowering yet, but I'm hoping in a few months' time, there might actually be some edible fruit on the bushes. Sean has a friend who has told him that there are wild blackberries available in the forests in Stouffville. We also happened across what I think is a wild pear tree:And what might possibly be a wild apple tree:
This was told to me by my father and these trees do have leaves and blossoms that look very similar to the ones in my backyard, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there will be some responsible foraging later this summer!