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Pot-au-feu of Braised Pork Belly

Inspired by a traditional French peasant dish, this Raymond Blanc recipe makes a wholesome meal. Bring together braised pork belly with vegetables and herbs.


Pot-au-feu is a French peasant dish, in which the meat, vegetables and broth are all cooked together in one pot.

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1.5kg (3lb) belly of pork, boned and skin removed (leaving a small layer of fat)
3 fresh sage leaves
3l (5¼ pints) water
4 carrots, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1 bouquet garni (made with 2 fresh or dried bay leaves, 6 thyme sprigs,2 sage leaves, 1 rosemary sprig and 1 marjoram sprig, tied together)
2 celery sticks, cut into 7.5cm (3in) lengths and tied together in a bundle
4 banana shallots or ordinary shallots, peeled but left whole
2 leeks, 2 outer layers removed, cut into 7.5cm (3in) lengths and tied together in a bundle
½ Savoy cabbage, cut in 4, with the core left in to hold the leaves together
4 medium potatoes, such as Desiree, cut into quarters
A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped


Place the belly of pork fat-side down and season the flesh with 3 pinches of sea salt and a pinch of black pepper. Lay the sage leaves in a line along the centre, then take the thickest part of the belly and roll it up as tightly as possible. Tie a piece of string tightly around the rolled belly; repeat this five or six times so the meat holds its shape during cooking. In order to hold the belly tightly and tie it at the same time, it is easier to have a friend helping you.

On a medium heat, in a large non-stick frying pan, without oil or butter, fry the rolled pork belly for 12–15 minutes, until golden brown all over. Transfer the pork belly to a large casserole. Pour in the water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil over a high heat.With a ladle, skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. Reduce the heat and cook on a gentle simmer, with bubbles just breaking the surface, for 1 hour. Fast cooking would make the meat very tough.

Add the carrots, garlic and bouquet garni, and cook for a further 30 minutes. Then add all the remaining ingredients except the parsley and cook for 1 hour more, until the meat and vegetables are tender. Stir in the parsley, adjust the seasoning to taste and serve directly from the pot to the table. Carve the pork in front of your guests or, if you are shy, in the privacy of your kitchen.


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