Spiced Pork Belly Stuffed with Prunes

2 Apr

This cheap cut always goes down well, but make sure you get the crackling crispy….I add golden syrup and lots of salt to make it extra crunchy. It is the perfect Sunday roast and can be mixed up with different potato options and vegetable sides.

Serves 6

Takes 30 minutes to make, 1 hour 10 minutes in the oven, plus resting

(potatoes have not been included in the method so you can select your own preference.)


  • 150g dried, ready-to-eat prunes
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1.5kg piece boneless pork belly, skin removed, scored and reserved
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil

For the roasted vegetables

  • 3 red onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 12 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Few fresh bay leaves
  • 4 garlic segments
  • 1 red cabbage
  • 40g butter


1. Put the prunes, orange juice and cinnamon in a pan over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Discard the cinnamon and set aside to cool. Whizz in a food processor until roughly chopped.

2. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Lay out the pork with the long side facing you. Using a long knife and working from right to left, split the pork from the short side almost in 2 lengthways, then open it up like a book. Rub the spices and lots of salt into the opened pork (Its the salt which makes the crackling crispy). Turn it over to the under side and put your spiced prune mix in the center.

3. Roll the meat up from the short, open side, as you would a Swiss roll. Wrap this in the reserved, scored skin, then tie neatly several times with butcher’s string.

4. Put the vegetable oil in a large, roasting tin and put in the oven for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and herbs, season and toss in the oil. Push them towards the side of the tin and put the pork in the centre, rolling it to coat in the oil. Season and cook skin-side up for 1 hour, or until the pork is golden and the vegetables tender. Turn off the oven and transfer the pork to a plate. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 15 minutes. Pop the vegetables back in the oven to keep hot.

5. Meanwhile, thinly slice the cabbage. Blanch in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes, drain and return to the pan. Add the butter, season and toss together.

6. Carve the pork into generous slices, discarding the string as you go. Divide between warm plates. Spoon the vegetables alongside, drizzling over any pan juices. Serve with the red cabbage, potatoes and roasted vegetables.

(apple, mustard and parsnip mash complements the meal well, alternatively I have also used dauphinoise or roast potatoes.)

Here’s one I made earlier….


Strawberry, Balsamic and Mint Cheesecake

1 Apr
This tempting number is an original take on the cheesecake, taken from Fiona Curtis’ fabulous book ‘Bake and Decorate.’ It’s a great one to be served after a heavy main as it feels light but has a good kick. Particularly good in the spring/summer months….

For the base
50g unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
300g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
10 large mint leaves, finely chopped
For the strawberry filling
300g strawberries, thinly sliced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
10 large mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp icing sugar
For the cream cheese filling
3 tsp gelatine crystals
250g unsalted cream cheese, at room temperature
300ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
45g golden caster sugar

To decorate
150–200g strawberries
Few sprigs of mint

For the chocolate sauce
80g butter
350ml double cream
450g milk chocolate, roughly chopped (preferable galaxy)


Preheat the oven to 170C / fan 160C / 340F/gas mark 3½. Butter very well the base and sides of a 23cm diameter, 7.5cm deep, round springform tin, making sure the flat side of the springform base is uppermost (the lipped side makes it hard to remove the cheesecake).

Put the biscuits in a polythene bag, seal, then bash with a rolling pin until very fine. Tip into a bowl and mix in the butter and mint. Lightly press into the tin with a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes, then leave to cool.

For the strawberry filling: simply mix everything together in a bowl and leave for 1-2 hours for the strawberries to absorb the flavours. Drain the strawberries, reserving all the delicious juices.

For the cream cheese filling: in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. In another bowl, lightly whip the cream and vanilla. Using an electric mixer (or handheld whisk), whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and doubled in volume. Carefully fold in the cream cheese, then the cream.

place 3 tbsp cold water into a small, wide-bottomed heatproof bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Every single crystal must be wet, or it will turn to lumps later on. Set the bowl over a pan of hot (not boiling) water until every crystal has melted. Don’t let it get too hot or it won’t set properly.

Take the strawberry juices and mix them into the gelatine liquid, sieve out any lumps, then fold in a spoonful of the cream mixture. Once well blended, gently fold in the remaining cream. (When I made it I didn’t find the balsamic flavour came through enough so I would add  an extra 1 tbsp of balsamic to taste.)

Spread the marinated strawberries over the centre of the biscuit base, ensuring they do not reach the edges. Spoon on the cream, level the surface and place in the refrigerator overnight to set.

When you are ready to serve, dip a knife into hot water, release the spring and run the knife around the edge of the tin. Ease off the base with a warm palette knife and transfer to a serving dish. Finally, decorate with the sliced strawberries and mint sprigs.