Although the challenges were sometimes a bit grotesque in the programme, the places, ingredients, regional differences and cooking techniques have stuck in my mind.
For this recipe, I don't have a smoker big enough to fit brisket in. Nor can I slow-cook a whole pig for 24 hours over hickory chips, much as I’d like to. So I've taken the best bits of my Geordie granny's 'pork with crackling' recipe, spiced it up a little and mixed it with some of my hazy Man v. Food memories – and made myself a very delicious sandwich.
It's not something you can quickly knock up, but get everything ready the day before and you will have a week's worth of joy and a lifetime's worth of requests for your famous pork sandwich.
Serves: 6 Prep time: 20 minutes, plus overnight in the fridge Cooking time: 180 minutes
Ingredients 1.5kg pork belly 2 star anise 1 5cm piece of cassia bark, or cinnamon 1 tsp cloves 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns 1 tbsp fennel seeds 1 onion 1 leek 2 carrots Salt
- Lightly toast the spices in a dry sauté pan and grind to a powder with a pinch of salt.
- Score the skin of the pork and pour boiling water all over it. This will help dry it out.
- Pat dry with kitchen towel and rub in the spice mix, then leave uncovered in the fridge overnight.
- Heat the oven to 220°C.
- Chop the onion, leek and carrots. Put them in a roasting tray, then put a rack over them and the pork on that.
- Cook for 25 minutes, then turn the heat down to 130°C and cook for a further two and a half hours. Check the skin is crisp. If not, turn up the heat to 220°C and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.
- Leave the pork to rest a while, then tear apart and serve in bread with spring onion, lettuce, mustard and smoky chilli sauce.