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How to win friends & influence people: pork belly

This post originally appeared on Laugh Lots, Travel Often.

I once went on a date with a guy who ordered salmon.

Now don't get me wrong, I love salmon. But he ordered after me. After hearing my order of "a full rack of ribs with side steak, please".

When the food came out, the waiter attempted to put the meat down in front of him, and to palm me off with the fish. And my date didn't try and correct them! Uh, uh, uh, buster. Not on my watch.

Needless to say, there wasn't a second date.

I'm the kind of gal who'd appreciate being taken to a rib eating contest on a first date. And if I was a guy, I would have made damn sure that the girl I was possibly going to end up seeing on a regular basis was willing to get down and dirty. No first date salads, or easy to eat meals for you, m'lady. All you can eat chicken wings and burgers too big to fit in your mouth would be the tester. If you passed, I might take you for seafood next. The kind you have to shell. Yes, with your own hands.

Sure, all that eating isn't conducive to getting *ahem* intimate, especially once you're carrying a 3 month old food-baby, but HEY! You're not supposed to be doing that kind of thing on the first date anyway, riiiiiight?!

Anyway, if you really want to win friends, and have them singing your praises, here's the recipe for you. I'm obsessed with my new Polpo cookbook, but for good reason. How could anyone resist a gorgeous dish like this? I served it up for 10 on NYE and there wasn't a dry eye in the house (ok, slight exaggeration, but put it this way: there certainly wasn't any pork left on the plates).

pork belly

Pork Belly, Radicchio and Hazelnuts
  • Whack 200g of hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in a 180C oven for about 5 minutes, then pull them out to cool.

  • Crank the oven to 240C, slice an onion up thickly and lay in a roasting tin.

  • Place 1kg of pork belly on top of the onions, skin side up, scored and with salt rubbed into the skin and a little extra virgin olive oil smeared on to boot.

  • Pop into the oven for 10 - 15 mins until browned, then turn the temperature down to 160C, where you can leave your pork to become wonderfully tender for an hour or so.

  • Remove the pork belly once cooked, and leave to rest for a while (poor thing, after being in a roasting sauna for an hour I'd be needing a rest too).

  • Meanwhile, core a large head of radicchio and remove all the leaves, popping them into a big bowl.

  • Roughly chop your hazelnuts and roll them into the mixing bowl too.

  • Strain the juices from the pan over your radicchio and hazelnuts. Yes, you are pouring pork fat and juices on veg and nuts. You will not regret it, trust me.

  • Slice up your rested pork belly, chuck it on top of your radicchio and hazelnuts, splash over a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, sea salt and black pepper to taste, and mix the whole lot up.

  • Serve to 4 greedy, or 6 normal people with a flourish and a bow.


Porky, fatty, crackling crunchy goodness WITH VEG. It's practically healthy.

You can thank the Polpo guys later.

And remember - if your would be romantic interest won't eat crackling, or heavenly, melty, hot, tender pig...it's time to say goodbye.

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