Pork belly with pickled plums, onions, tarragon and mint

Pork belly with pickled plums, onions, tarragon and mint

Nathan Outlaw's Home Kitchen
David Loftus

This dish dates back to when I opened my first restaurant. At that time, pork belly didn’t appear on every menu and the butcher was almost giving it away – a real advantage when you need to be careful! Conveniently, most of the preparation is done the day before. You could skip the curing of the pork belly, but it does make a significant difference to the end result. The pickled plums have many uses – try adding them to a simple salad, for example. You can pickle apples and pears in the same way too.


Quantity Ingredient
2kg side of pork belly
3 onions, peeled and halved

For the cure

Quantity Ingredient
100g fine sea salt
100g caster sugar
25g ground cumin
25g smoked paprika

For the pickled plums

Quantity Ingredient
4 large firm, ripe plums
200ml white wine vinegar
200ml water
50g caster sugar
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
4 star anise
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the garnish

Quantity Ingredient
olive oil, for cooking
12 spring onions, halved lengthways
mint leaves
tarragon leaves
mustard and cress


  1. To cure the pork belly, mix the salt, sugar, cumin and smoked paprika together in a bowl and sprinkle all over the meat, making sure it is evenly covered. Wrap in cling film, place in a container and leave to cure in the fridge for 12 hours.
  2. For the pickled plums, quarter the plums and remove the stones, then place in a container (that will also take the pickling liquor). Put the wine vinegar, water, sugar, bay leaves, peppercorns and star anise in a pan, heat to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer. Pour the simmering pickling liquor over the plums to completely submerge them, then cover with cling film. Leave to pickle for 12 hours.
  3. When the pork is ready, preheat your oven to 180°C. Wash off the cure, then pat dry. Place the halved onions in a large roasting tray, sit the pork belly on top and put into the oven. Roast for 1 hour, then turn the oven setting down to 120°C and cook for a further 2 hours. Once the pork belly is cooked, lift it into another tray and leave to cool. Reserve the onions and 100ml of the fat.
  4. Wipe out the roasting tray and place over a medium heat. Add the reserved onions and warm through, stirring a few times. Tip the onions into a food processor and blitz until smooth.
  5. When the meat has cooled slightly, cut off the crunchy rind with a small knife. Put the pork belly into the fridge for 3–4 hours to firm up.
  6. To make the dressing, pour half of the plum pickling liquor into a pan and simmer until reduced and syrupy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. To serve, heat a large non-stick frying pan (or two if you can’t fit the meat in one pan, cutting the belly in two) and add some of the reserved fat. When hot, add the pork belly skin side down and cook for 3 minutes until the skin is caramelised. Turn over and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to rest in a warm place.
  8. Heat up the frying pan again and add a little oil. When hot, fry the spring onions until golden and beginning to soften; remove to a warm plate.
  9. To serve, cut the pork belly into 1cm slices, toss briefly in the hot pan, then arrange on 6 warmed plates. Add the pickled plums, spring onions and a dollop of puréed roasted onions. Scatter over the herbs and cress, and finish with a trickle of dressing.
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