Slow-cooked pork with pesto and pearl barley risotto

Preparation: 45 minutes    Cooking: 4 hours    Serves: 6


For the pork:

  • 1 hand of pork (or pork shoulder). Also known as the hand and spring, the hand is the lower bit of the shoulder, on the bone.

  • 8 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns

  • 150ml cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp juniper berries

  • Salt

For the pesto:

  • 65g watercress, roughly chopped

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts

  • 50-75ml olive oil

  • 50g finely grated parmesan

For the red wine sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 4 banana shallots, chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

  • 2 sprigs thyme

  • 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 600ml red wine

  • 600ml beef stock

  • 1/2 tbsp cold butter

For the risotto:

  • 400g pearl barley

  • 2 banana shallots, finely diced

  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped

  • 2 tbsp cold butter, divided

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 250ml white wine

  • 1 litre chicken stock

  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan

  • Large handful watercress

  • Salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 150°C. Place the bay leaves and peppercorns in the bottom of a casserole dish or roasting tray large enough for the pork. Place the pork on top, skin side up. Pour over the cider vinegar and 100ml of water. Put into the oven and slow-roast for 2.5-3 hours, checking every hour and adding more water if necessary.

While the pork is in the oven, prepare the pesto and red wine sauce. For the pesto, place the watercress, garlic, Parmesan and pine nuts in a food processor and puree. Drizzle in the olive oil, pulsing for a few seconds at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Pour into a bowl and season to taste.

For the red wine sauce, sauté the shallots with the oil over a high heat for about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and thyme and continue cooking for a further 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the vinegar and reduce to a syrupy consistency. Add the red wine and cook until reduced by two thirds. Pour in the beef stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until reduced by two thirds again, leaving around 350ml. Remove the garlic and thyme, season to taste and whisk in the cold butter.

When the pork is falling away from the bone, remove from the oven and take off the skin. Leave to rest for 40 minutes covered with foil.

While the meat rests, make the risotto. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat half the butter and the oil. Sauté the shallots and garlic with a pinch of salt for about five minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the barley and cook for a further two minutes, stirring to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the white wine and stir until completely absorbed by the barley. Pour over 3/4 of the chicken stock and simmer on low for 30 minutes or until the barley is tender, stirring occasionally and topping up with chicken stock if required.

Remove the risotto from the heat, then stir in the Parmesan, fresh watercress and the rest of the butter. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

To serve, ladle the risotto into large bowls. Drizzle with watercress pesto, top with the shredded pork and finish with red wine sauce.

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