Braising Liquid For Pork

I love pork! Especially a really good braised pork belly…

I feel like pork can be a bit bland somesomes or have a very “farmy” after taste to it if there has been no real flavour profiles incorporated into the cooking process. So i decided to share my utmost favourite braising liquid when I cook pork at home.


  • Yield: for 1 large pork belly
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 3 hours braising time + 1 hour reducing time

Ingredients List

Red Onions – roughly chopped| 2 (440g)

Carrots – roughly chopped|2

Celery Stalks & Leaves – roughly chopped|4 stalks

Garlic – halved|1 house

Ginger Root – roughly chopped|100g

Cinnamon Stick|1

Cloves – whole|6

Star Anise – whole|4

Fresh Thyme|3 sprigs

Bay Leaves|4

Black Peppercorns – whole|10

Fresh Orange Juice|500ml

Dry White Wine|500ml

Water|1L

Tinned Pineapple – roughly chopped| 300g (I like to add the juice from the tin as well)

 

Technique 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
  2. Combine all ingredients into your chosen suitable oven proof tray or dish.
  3. Place pork partially submerged in the liquid.
  4. Braise for 3 hours, check the liquid half way through the cooking duration to ensure there is still enough liquid to braise & to prevent any burning. Add extra hot water if necessary.
  5. Remove the pork from the liquid, place liquid and remaining contents to a pot to reduce until half.
  6. Braising liquid can be used in soups, gravies, sauces – the list is endless.

 

The Best Homemade Sweet Chilli Sauce

My homemade sweet chilli sauce has to be the best! A well balanced combination of sweet, salty & spicy.

I use this sauce as a dip accompaniment for savoury platters, shellfish, deep fried pastries like Spring rolls & Samosa’s as well as tossed through stir fries.

It is just too DELICIOUS!! You have to give it a try!


  • Yield: 600ml
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients List

Red Onion – finely chopped| 1 (220g)

Red Bell Pepper – cut into small even cubes|1 (200g)

Fresh Pineapple – cut into small even cubes|1 (medium sized)

Fresh Garlic – finely chopped|2 cloves

Peppercorns – whole|5

Cloves – whole|3

Bay Leaf|1

Red Chilli – finely sliced|as per desired heat (I use 1 deseeded)

White Granulated Sugar|2 cups

White Wine Vinegar|2 cups

Water|1 cup

Salt|to taste

 

Technique 

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, add a small amount of vegetable oil – just enough to coat the onions.
  2. Over a medium heat, add onions, garlic, peppercorns, cloves & bay leaf.
  3. Season with salt.
  4. Continuously stir the onion mixture to prevent burning as you don’t have a lot of oil in the pot – allow to cook until just soft.
  5. Add the peppers, pineapple & chilli, allow mixture to heat through nicely. Taste & season again with salt if necessary.
  6. Lastly add sugar, vinegar & water – reduce to a low heat & simmer, stirring occasionally.
  7. Sauce will need to cook for about 15 – 20 minutes once it starts to rapidly simmer (reduced to about half).
  8. Remove from the heat, taste for seasoning aging & allow to cool.

NB: Remember that the sauce with thicken once cooled due to the high sugar content, so don’t be alarmed if it looks too runny whilst warm.

If you are wanting a smooth sauce, remove aromatics from the pot – blend & strain through a fine mesh sieve while still warm.

 

My Wholesome Lasagna

This lasagna has to be the best I’ve ever made, my daughter is not the easiest eater & this went down oh so well! Two helpings later…

I find that when making this dish, it is the easiest way to get the little one’s to eat veggies without even knowing it. Sounds perfect to me!


  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients List

Lasagna Sheets| 9

For the Mince

Lean Beef Mince|500g

Fruit Chutney – of your preferred choice|1 Tbls

White Onion – finely chopped|1 (medium sized)

Fresh Garlic – finely chopped|2 cloves

Carrot – peeled & finely grated|1 (medium sized)

Celery Stalks – finely chopped|2

Courgette – finely grated|1 (medium sized) OR use 100g of grated mushrooms

Fresh Thyme|1 tsp

Tinned Tomatoes – peeled & chopped|1 small tin

Tomato Paste|1 Tbls

Olive Oil|for frying

Salt & Pepper|to taste

For the White Sauce

Full Cream Milk – slightly warmed| 1L

Salted Butter|60g

Cake Flour|60g

Salt|to taste

Technique 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. For the mince – heat a little olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan.
  3. Over a medium heat, sauté onions, garlic, celery, carrot, courgette (or mushroom if preferred) & thyme. This needs to cook for about 10 – 20 minutes (you want all the veggies to cook until nice & soft)
  4. Season with salt & pepper at this stage, always season from the base up – this builds your flavour profile of each & every dish you make.
  5. Add mince, using a wooden spoon, break the mince meat apart so that you don’t get large “meat ball” like lumps.
  6. Allow to cook off until all natural juices from the mince has cooked away & mixture starts to fry & brown slightly.
  7. Spoon chutney into your well seasoned mince mixture, stir until well combined – taste & season again if necessary. You want well balanced flavours of sweet & salty – remember that the sweetness will counter balance the tartness of the tomatoes.
  8. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, as well as the tomato taste – add a little hot water or beef stock if necessary, you don’t want a dry lasagna!
  9. Allow your meaty goodness to simmer on a low heat on the back plate while you make the white sauce. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  10. For the white sauce – in a medium sized sauce pan, heat the butter until just melted.
  11. Remove from the heat & add the flour all at once, while whisking continuously. This will form a roux.
  12. Return the roux back to the heat, cook the flour for about 5 minutes – season with a little salt, remembering your flavour profile.
  13. Remove the sauce pan from the heat & gradually add the warm milk, do not stop whisking.
  14. Return well combined,  sauce mixture to the heat, whisk slowly until it thickens up nicely. To check if it is thick enough, dip a wooden spoon onto your sauce – if it coats the back of the spoon generously, its done. Taste for seasoning.
  15. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to ensure you are left with a silky smooth white sauce.
  16. The Layering – ladle enough sauce into your chosen, greased oven proof dish to coat the bottom.
  17. Add a layer of lasagna sheets.
  18. Top with a layer of perfectly cooked, wholesome mince meat, then sauce again.
  19. Continue to repeat these steps until both sauce & mince are used up.
  20. Top with grated mature cheddar cheese & bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 – 40 minutes.

NB: Always start and end with sauce, that way the pasta will have enough liquid to cook through & become al denté rather than dry & crisp.

I ran out of fruit chutney without realising it, BUT I did recently put together a cheese & cold meat platter for lunch the other day so I had figs preserved in syrup handy in the fridge.

I substituted the chutney for some fig syrup, it was surprisingly just as delicious! (if not more)