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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Melissa Thompson

Melissa Thompson’s recipe for pimento pork belly with vegetable rice

Melissa Thompson’s pimento pork belly with vegetable rice
Melissa Thompson’s pimento pork belly with vegetable rice. Photograph: Matt Russell/The Guardian. Food and prop styling: Kitty Coles. Food assistant: El Kemp.

This dish is rooted in Jamaican stewed pork, but I’ve ratcheted up the pimento (or allspice) so it really sings. Fragrant and multi-layered, the spicing pairs brilliantly with pork belly, while the green seasoning – a paste made with herbs, aromatics and alliums that’s common across the Caribbean – adds great flavour. The rice is tasty and convenient; frozen mixed veg work well in it, too, as do other vegetables such as pumpkin or squash, green beans and peppers.

Pimento pork belly with vegetable rice

Freeze fresh thyme in a plastic bag to stop it going off. Once frozen, the leaves helpfully fall off and gather in the bottom of the bag, from where they can be scooped out, while the stalks can be used to flavour soups and stews.

Prep 20 min
Marinate 1 hr+
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

For the pork belly
2½cm piece fresh ginger (about 20g), peeled and roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small bunch fresh coriander
1 small bunch fresh parsley
2 tsp thyme leaves
4 spring onions
, trimmed and roughly chopped
½ white onion, peeled
⅓ red pepper
, pith and seeds removed
1 scotch bonnet chilli (if you prefer less heat, remove and discard the seeds and pith)
1 tbsp salt
Vegetable oil

A splash of cider vinegar
1kg boneless pork belly slices
, skinned and cut into 5cm pieces
1 tbsp ground allspice berries
½ tbsp ground black pepper
4 tbsp brown sugar

350ml chicken stock

For the vegetable rice
Vegetable oil
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
½ white onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
200g long-grain rice, washed
3 medium carrots (about 250g), trimmed and finely chopped
200g garden peas (frozen are fine)
200g sweetcorn kernels (again, frozen are fine)
165g coconut milk
250-300ml vegetable stock
5 thyme stalks
½ tsp
allspice berries
Salt, if required

First, make the green seasoning. Put the ginger, garlic, herbs, onions, red pepper, scotch bonnet, salt, two tablespoons of oil and the vinegar in a blender and blitz smooth.

Put the pork in a bowl with the ground allspice and pepper, and rub in. Add three tablespoons of the green seasoning, toss to coat, then leave to marinate for an hour (or cover and put in the fridge overnight). Refrigerate any leftover green seasoning and use it within a week – it works well as a quick marinade with all kinds of fish, meat and vegetables.

Put two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat, then fry the pork in batches for about five minutes each, until golden brown all over, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Transfer the browned meat to a bowl and repeat with the remaining pork.

Scrape everything from the pan into the bowl and wipe it clean with a paper towel. In the same pan, heat the sugar until it melts, then watch carefully as it caramelises and turns from golden to dark brown and bubbling. Return the pork to the pan and stir to coat. Add the stock, mix well, cover and cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes.

While the pork is cooking, make the rice. Put two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan on a medium heat, then add the spring onions, white onion and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes to flavour the oil, then stir in the rice and all the vegetables, until they’re well coated. Add the coconut milk and stock (the liquid should cover the rice by about 1½cm), then add the thyme stalks and allspice berries, as well as salt if needed. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked. Off the heat, fluff up with a fork, cover again and leave to steam for 10 minutes.

Once the pork is cooked, lift off the lid and cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce reduces and turns dark and glossy. Turn off the heat, rest for five minutes, then serve with the vegetable rice.

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