There’s something truly mouth-watering about succulent roast pork, topped with a thick crunchy layer of crackling. This is winter ‘comfort food’ at its very best; just the thing to eat in front of a roaring fire when all outside is icy & unforgiving.
During these long, cold & dark evenings, food fulfils a greater role than sustenance alone. The heart and soul both crave a break from the grey monotony; and food provides this – it satisfies and nurtures, keeping the chill at bay and bringing a sense of warmth to more than just the stomach alone! And the cook is the provider of this relief. There’s a great joy in the hearty fare of winter, and preparing food like this is a way of showing love and care for friends & family. The appreciation & gratitude it receives is more than ample reward; as are the empty plates, scraped clean in indication that ‘you’ve done well’ and your efforts were worthwhile!
On a low-carb diet however, food can sometimes lack this feeling of filling, substantial warmth. All too often, the dieter will fall back on quick dishes of green vegetables and salad; both delicious in their own right, but ill-suited to the ravages of winter and the simple, robust fare it requires!
On a ketogenic diet, fat provides the principal sense of satiety, so pork-crackling can be tucked into without guilt or fear of piling on the pounds! Diabetics and those on a paleo-regime can equally reap these rewards, as can those with an intolerance to gluten, because this dish contains no wheat or carbohydrate beyond the natural fibre-based cellular-carbs in the celeriac itself.
Start by bringing the pork to room temperature on a plate in the kitchen for an hour or so before cooking. Pat the surface of the meat dry and season the skin liberally with rock salt and black pepper. Place a heavy-based pan on the hob and heat a little butter and oil until it’s good and hot, then add your pork, skin-side down, enjoying its splutter of protest as the meat hits the pan.
Continue to seal this on the hob for a few minutes on each side until all is golden and brown; then add a roughly chopped onion and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic. Once these have had a couple of minutes of high heat, pour on a glug of white wine or dry vermouth to lift the flavour from the bottom of the pan, then top up the liquid with chicken stock (or water and stock-cubes) until the meat sits waist-high in liquid. Now simply transfer the pan to a hot oven to roast for an hour or so, until the skin is deliciously crisp and caramelised.
Whilst this is in the oven, prepare your celeriac. Peel ‘the big ugly’, then dice it into 1cm chunks. In a sauté-pan heat a little more butter and oil and add finely sliced onion and a roughly chopped leek. Cook these until translucent, then tumble in your diced celeriac & crushed garlic, stirring well to prevent it sticking. Cover the pan’s contents with chicken stock and leave to reduce, stirring occasionally until the liquid has all but evaporated.
At this point, lift out a piece of celeriac and (giving it a good blow) test the vegetables for tenderness and seasoning. We want it so that the celeriac is ‘melt in the mouth’ and tenderly soft. If there is still resistance, add more water and continue to reduce as before until the desired texture is reached.
Once the texture is as we want it, take your pork out of the oven to allow it to ‘rest’. Cover the joint with a double layer of tinfoil to prevent it getting cold, then you can start on your spinach.
Rinse this well, then add it to the pan, retaining whatever water is still clinging to the leaves. Stir this in, then allow to cook for a further 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted thoroughly and all water is staved off. I never cease to be amazed at how much spinach shrinks down in volume. My only point of comparison is my food budget at the end of the month! It’s always equally surprising how that diminishes so quickly; leaving me with a mere fraction of what I started with!
When all is cooked, stir a knob of butter through the vegetables and grate on a fine shaving of parmesan cheese to add a salty counterpoint to the richness of chicken-stock and leeks. Serve up your pork onto a pre-heated plate and spoon the vegetables to one side, garnishing the lot with freshly chopped herbs.
Cut the cracking into chunks and eat with your fingers, enjoying each crunch as it comes! Truly delectable in every way!
Browse this and other recipes by picture on my pinterest page: country walks in ketosis pinterest.
Thanks for reading and bon ap!