Only the best belly’ll do for James. “You need a pork belly that’s high quality, free range and not too fatty,” he says. “We coat it in a dry rub of crushed cumin, coriander seeds, bay leaves, salt and black pepper, then let it rest in the fridge overnight.”
James confits the belly at 85°C for 12 hours. He removes the skin, cuts it into strips, deep-fries it at 200°C, then crisps it up even further in the oven to make crackling. For a shortcut, deep-fry confit strips of whole belly until the skin puffs up.
Because, what is a fall-apart tender pork belly without a side of beer-battered, deep-fried onions, right?
Upping the flavour factor, James makes a jus by caramelising onions with brown sugar, then adding home-made pork stock, sherry and brandy and slowly reducing it until syrupy and glossy.
Taking good ol’ mash to the next level, James incorporates the flavour of apples. “Red apples are the best to use as they’re a lot sweeter than green apples,” he explains. “Peel the apples, then core and slice before roasting in a hot oven with a few blocks of butter. Pass through a drum sieve, then mix into the mash.”
Why use salt as seasoning when you can use bacon dust? James creates his by deep-frying wild-boar bacon, then blitzing it in a blender and drying the crumbs under the grill.
Find Coobs, 4th Avenue, Parkhurst, Johannesburg; or call them tel: 011 447 0710, or online here: coobs.co.za.