This was delicious, the pork was meltingly tender and the beans were soft and yummy and I love cavolo nero. The whole thing worked perfectly.
Pork Belly, Beans and Greens
500g dried cannellini beans
3 bay leaves
1.2kg belly pork, bones out
6 little sprigs thyme
1l vegetable stock
200g cavolo nero or other dark cabbage
Soak the beans in deep, cold water overnight. In the morning, drain them, tip into a very large saucepan, add three bay leaves, cover with water and bring to the boil. Remove and discard any froth that floats to the surface with a draining spoon, then partially cover with a lid and turn down to a lively simmer. Leave the beans to cook for a good 45-60 mins until almost tender.
Peel and chop the onions, then soften them in a little oil in a large, solid roasting tin over a low to moderate heat, adding the whole thyme sprigs and a grinding of black pepper. Let them take their time, so the onions are truly soft.
Preheat the oven to 220C. Drain the cooked beans as soon as they are almost tender, and tip them into the onions and thyme. You should include the bay leaves or, if they look tired, add a couple of new ones. Pour in the stock.
Using a heavy kitchen knife, slice the piece of pork belly into eight squares. Salt the skin generously, pushing the grains down into the slashes on the surface. Place the pieces snugly, but not quite touching each other, into the beans, making certain that the pork stands proud of the beans. Bake for 20 mins until the crackling is looking pale gold and lightly crisp.
Lower the heat to 160C and continue cooking for an hour and 15 mins. The pork should be crisp on top, soft but not meltingly so. Remove the pork to warm plates.
Place the roasting tin over a moderate heat, shred the cabbage and stir into the beans and cook for a couple of minutes. Finish with salt, stirring it into the beans. Serve with the pork.