Nigel Slater's Crisp Pork Belly, Sweet Peach Salsa from Ripe is a fabulous surprise of a recipe. The warm, vaguely Asian spice blend rubbed into the belly may not seem an obvious complement to a Southwestern-style peach salsa, but a quick glance through the ingredients reveals commonalities: cilantro, lime, and chile all play their parts in both cuisines, and peaches themselves are one of America's favorite imports from China. Not to mention that once the peach salsa is piled on top of thinly sliced, quiveringly rich belly, it's hard to imagine doubting Slater's genius.
Why I picked this recipe: Crisp pork cracklings plus rich belly meat and bright peach salsa equals a guaranteed win in my book.
What worked: Everything about the belly—from the spicy marinade to the crisp skin—was spectacular. I could eat it for days.
What didn't: The three tablespoons of oil called for in the salsa seemed excessive served next to such a rich cut of pork. A slight drizzle would be plenty.
Suggested Tweaks: Any sweet-tart fruit would work well in the salsa: mango and pineapple would be particularly complementary. And if just the thought of a 400 degree oven makes you sweat, this salsa would work fine alongside a grilled chop or two.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard to give away.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.