JJ's blog from Fino
28 May 2010
JJ & James are currently in the last phase of their training programme. JJ has been working in the kitchens of Sam & Eddie Hart's restaurants, Fino and Barrafina. Here he reports on the preparation of a much loved Fino classic: slow cooked pork belly:
I've had a crazy week this week at Fino! Though it's taken a while I've adjusted to the early starts and with the sun shining down in London at the moment, the fresh mornings are putting me in the mood to get in the kitchen and start prepping. Yes I know what many of you may be thinking, that doesn't sound like JJ, in fact I've surprised myself a lot over the last few months and I've got a real taste for cooking!
First dish on my mise en place was the pork belly. Strip the ribs from the flesh, take off the fatty neck and score the skin, cutting through the fat by about 1cm, at 1cm intervals. This, I'm told by Executive Chef Nieves, is to add flavour to the meat as well as make the crackling extra crisp! This is then placed skin side down on backing paper and on to a tray around 3 inches deep. That flesh is seasoned with rock salt, black pepper and a fist full of cumin.
The oven is at 150º when we put it in. It is left for up to 4 hours of slow cooking. The fats render under the natural weight of the meat and the cumin wafts around the kitchen like wild fire. We pull her out after 3 hours, the pig is young and tender so didn't need the full time. The smell was intoxicating and as we transferred it out on to the board I could see crispy fat still lightly bubbling on the surface: it was ready to serve. At Fino and Barrafina the Harts go for a rich veal sauce to finish and a little chervil, it tastes sensational! My number one dish so far!!!