A little blog about food with recipes, reviews, commentary, and honesty.

I also offer event catering and private chef services; check out Earls Barton Eats! for more details.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Puttanesca with Belly Pork and Chilli

We don't need to talk about the origins of the puttanesca sauce do we? We're all adults here...

Regardless of origins some of you will be looking at the title of this dish and thinking "But puttanesca does have chilli in it?". Well yes and no; it all depends on the region of Italy your puttanesca comes from. I have specifically included chilli in this recipe, and in the title, because it plays a very important role. The heat from the chilli cuts through the fat of the belly pork and the salt of the other ingredients a treat, so it thoroughly deserves a mention in it's own right. 

And yes, this is a recipe which involves belly pork but that is also quick to prepare and cook (about 30 minutes in total, but even quicker if you use fresh pasta). Here we're cutting the chunks of pork really small and quick frying them until the meat is crispy on the outside but the fat is still soft. 

This isn't actually entirely my recipe; it's inspired by a dish served by my favourite Italian restaurant in my home town (which is sadly no more). They served puttanesca with belly pork as a speciality dish, I first ate it when I was about 14 and it was wonderful. 

Ingredients to serve 2: 

300g of belly pork
100ml of passata
1 fat clove of garlic, sliced
1/2 a tsp of dried chilli flakes
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
50g of black olives, sliced
1 tsp of Nonpareille capers (drained and rinsed if in brine)
2 tbsps of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Dried tagliatelle, spaghetti, or fettucine pasta, cooked to al dente according to packet instructions
Olive oil
Ground black pepper
Grated parmesan to serve (optional)

Firstly put the water onto boil for cooking the pasta. Then put a non-stick sauté (or frying) pan onto a medium heat, ready for the pork. 

Remove the rind from the belly pork (Don't throw it away! Save it and roast later to make pork crackling) and cut the meat into 1cm square cubes. If your knife isn't as sharp as you'd like it to be this might be a bit tricky, so cut the pork into larger pieces and chop it smaller after it's cooked. Drizzle a little (only a little) olive oil into the sauté pan and add the pork. Cook on a medium heat, turning regularly, for 6-8 minutes until the pork is cooked through and is a bit brown and crispy on the outside. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside on a plate. 

Your water should now be boiling so add the pasta, a pinch of sea salt, and cook for around 8-9 minutes (for dried). 

While your pasta is cooking you can make the puttanesca sauce. Put the sauté pan back onto a medium heat; you don't need to add any oil as it will have the fat from the pork. Add the sliced garlic and chopped anchovies and cook for about a minute, taking care that the garlic doesn't burn. The anchovies will melt into the oil slightly, but to help them along just mash them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Next add the capers, olives, chilli, passata, and a good grind of black pepper and bring to the boil. I like bursting the capers into the sauce with the spoon so that they release all their flavour. You won't need to add any salt to the sauce because of all the salty ingredients. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes, until it's reduced and luscious. 

When the pasta is done turn off the heat and remove the pasta from the water with a pair of tongs and put them straight into the sauce; this way the pasta transfers a little of it's starchy cooking water into the sauce and makes it shiny and stick to the pasta better. Add the chopped parsley and toss the pasta together with the sauce. Serve with any extra bits of pork, olives, and capers spooned on top and a little parmesan if you need more of a salty kick.