Pork Belly Braised with Little Creatures Pale Ale with Cabbage and Stoemp

I was sucessfully badgered to join three friends doing this year’s Avon Descent to do a paddle through the “Tea Trees” – a 20km stretch of an immature river winding sharply through pointy branches and rocks.

3 hours in the middle of winter paddling, head butting my way through branches and falling off a log-like surf ski that eventually filled up with water. I had two things on my mind, a Weezer song and healing winter dinner.

I was going to do a bastardisation of a cassoulet but it was all too hard in my state. Instead I settled on pork and decided to braise it, inspired by something tasty I’d had at the Subi Pub and constant recent socio-political pinging. Went to the butchers and was getting the “we’ve got fillet” and “not much left” routine. Persisting, I said it was going to be braised with beer and there was a “why didn’t you say so” moment. We ceased being client/merchant and became equals – he told me he had some pork belly out the back. Out it came – “with or without bone?”, “With bone” – approving nod. He told me, lovingly, how he was going to trim it. For good measure I told him the rabbits looked great and I’d be back for one later.

The meal was based around a standard braising technique plus a quick skip around the net to see if I was on the right track. I chose Little Creatures Pale Ale as it’s a relatively sweet beer and I’ve been enjoying bacon with maple syrup a lot of late.


The pork was scored with a bit of salt rubbed on the top. I largely chopped a few aromatics – 1 leek, 2 carrots, and a stick of celery put them in the cast iron casserole dish with a little butter and put the pork belly, cut into two pieces, on top.

This went into a 190C oven until the pork was lightly browned on both sides. Then it was back onto the burner. 1.75 bottles of Pale Ale went in. Don’t worry, my wife (bless) knew I might be sad, so she got me a 6 pack rather than just the two I asked for. And added half a cup of chicken stock to bring the liquid half way up the meat. I added a bouquet garni and filled the pot with thinly sliced cabbage. Bought the pot up to a simmer, reduced it to an ever so gentle simmer, placed the lid on, and came back two hours later.

Took the pork out of the dish. I was unhappy with the “crackle” so I put them under the griller while I did the rest of the preparation. Cabbage and leek was taken out and kept and the rest was strained with the carrot and celery binned. The broth was kept on the burner in very token gesture to reduction.


I was disappointed that this is just a fancy Belgian way of saying mash – as a noun it would make a great verb and Wrestlers who dig exotic wordplay should take note. The mash was just boiled Royal Blue potatoes with buttermilk. According to the very useful Essentials of Cooking byJames Peterson, which I also used as a guide for the braise, it shouldn’t be done with a processer as it glugs up the starches, so I went back to old masher.


Stoemp as an island surrounded by a sea of broth with a sea pasture of cabbage and leek…that’s enough of that…pork on top. Fair compensation for a grim morning but would recommend reducing the broth a little further and darts as a sport. The flavour was strong enough and made a soup with the potato – beer soup, ponder that.

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  1. Jeanne’s avatar

    Yum yum yum. Sounds like comfort food extraordinaire. Cassoulet is one of the things I keep promising myself I will try one of these days – but then I end up making an omelette instead as it’s just easier… ;-) But this sounds like a less ambitious alternative! Now that it’s summer (allegedly!) over here, I must really motivate my other half to join me in an early-morning raid on Smithfields market – all the butchers get their meat from there and it is one of the few places to find good quality meat & interesting cuts at reasonable prices. This is the home of whole beef fillets that hubby stuffs with smoked oysters and barbecues!

    Oh and well done on your foolhardiness… erm, I mean commitment in finishing the Avon Descent!

  2. FXH’s avatar

    It seems a bit tame compared to this cute American porker being roasted whole July 2004

  3. FXH’s avatar


    Go there to see how to roast/ BBQ a suckling pig.

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    Jeanne- finish Ha!, this was just one-sixth of the whole thing. I think Sunday’s effort put me off any desires to give the race another go. I’ll be handing oout bananas and saying “‘carn fellers only another 30km” this year.

    Francis -first link had me scratching my head for some subliminal political commentary, but second one works. Sorry mate, I know it’s tame but if it’s a whole pig, it’s wild pig or nothing, heartworm be damned, and anyway, the .44’s in at the shop for a service.

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