Pork belly baklava from 1821
Fill a large stockpot with water and place pork belly in. Bring to boil and boil for one hour. Remove pork belly and place into a bowl or container with white vinegar and allow to soak for one hour.
Place pork belly skin up on a baking/wire rack into a baking tray. Criss-cross score the skin lightly being careful not to cut too deep into the skin and then rub sea salt crystals all over skin.
Place in oven at 200C until skin is crispy. Once crispy set aside in fridge to cool for as long as possible (up to 6 hours). It gives the pork belly enough time to set which makes it easy to portion and rip off the skin/crackling. Once chilled using a filleting knife cut around the skin to where it joins the pork and slowly work around the edges working your knife underneath the crackled skin. You may be able just to peel the skin off in one whole piece if you work the knife nicely between the layer of crackling and the hardened fat layer. Once done you can slice the pork belly into thin strips about 2cm thick like a strip of pancetta. Set the skin aside for now.
To prepare the date/pistachio filling rehydrate pitted dates in boiled water until soft. Strain, pat dry and then blend in processor until smooth. Crush pistachios (try to get some different textures, some fine and some a little more chunky). Mix pistachios , date puree and the Dijon mustard together. Season with salt and pepper. If you want a more nuttier date/pistachio mix layer add more pistachios to your liking.
· 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
· 2 box thick sheet filo (Antoniou brand is best)
· Date pistachio mix
· Pork belly slices
· 500g butter
To assemble the pork belly, melt butter. Open up filo and place flat on dry surface with a very slight moist tea towel to cover. Butter your baklava tray (20cm x 30cm) liberally. Place a sheet of filo on the base of the tray. It should pretty much fit in that size tray. If not make sure the filo doesn’t come up the edge but you can overlap the layers so it covers the base. Make sure anytime you overlap you always butter between sheets. The buttering is very important in this process. Repeat this 5 times. Six layers of filo on the base. Next layer out the pork belly strips so it covers the filo. Once again, fit in so it’s a level layer.
Next repeat with another five sheets of filo with liberal buttering between each layer. Repeat again with another layer of pork as above. Repeat with another five sheets filo. Next layer is the date/pistachio mix. Evenly spread over filo layer. Another layer of filo. Layer of pork belly. Layer of filo. Layer of pork belly. Then finish off with another layer of filo with 6 sheets like the bottom. Butter the top liberally and then chill.
· 500ml water
· 500g pitted date
· 5g mastic powder
· 100ml extra virgin olive oil
· 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
· Salt and pepper to season.
To prepare the date mastic sauce, place all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to simmer and simmer for about 1 hour. Always stir to make sure the dates don’t sink to bottom and burn. Then using a stick blender or a food processor blend all together until smooth.
When baklava is cool cut into top layer of filo and make a diamond pattern. You can cut down through the top layer of filo. This will make the top layer rise so you can get that flaky finish. Cut pork crackling into diamond shapes to fit within the pattern. Place in a preheated oven at 200Cand bake until the top layer is golden brown. Brush with melted butter when it comes out of oven. Serve with warmed date mastic sauce.