Autumn is the perfect time for pork belly and native oysters
Roasting pork belly is probably the easiest way to feed four to six people all at once
Serve pork belly with vegetables and apples. Photograph: iStock
The native oyster is back in season after its brief summer break. Clarenbridge has just celebrated its Oyster Festival and the Galway Oyster Festival takes place this weekend. It’s really important to celebrate oysters and we should be eating a lot more of them.
As well as oysters, the autumn fruit is ripening. The apples are falling from the trees and finally the blackberries are, em, black. Picking them straight from bush is probably as close as we can get to our Mesolithic ancestors. Though the native oyster would not be too far behind.
Evidence for the consumption of those goes back many thousands of years. Autumnal fires of roasted oysters with apples and blackberries may have fed many a hunter-gatherer. However, our palates now may not take too well to fish and fruit, yet the Japanese (as I wrote a few weeks back) do it so well: mackerel and blackberries being a beautiful autumn treat.
Autumn and apples always make me think of pork, especially roasted pork belly. The Hairy Bikers, Si King and Dave Myers, have a wonderful recipe for belly of pork with apples, though I like to add fennel to the mix. Roasting pork belly is probably the easiest way to feed four to six people all at once.
How to roast a pork belly
Score the skin of a 2.5kg belly of pork and season both sides with salt. Roughly chop two fennel bulbs, two onions, a head of garlic and two leeks and place in a roasting tray large enough to hold the belly. Pour 500ml of cider over the vegetables and season with a little salt and some rosemary and thyme. Place the belly on top of the vegetables. Roast in an oven heated to 180 degree, or equivalent, for two hours, keeping an eye on the liquid. Make sure it doesn’t all evaporate. Add a little water half way through the cooking if you need to.
If you want apples with the pork, oil six red apples and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes until soft. Serve the roasted apples with the pork and the braised vegetables.
As for native oysters, try them with apple juice and extra virgin rapeseed oil. You’ll perhaps be surprised.