Slow cooked pork belly from James Whelan Butchers

I always like to preach the benefits of shopping local. When it comes to what I eat and drink, I’m the sort of person who likes to go slightly out of my way for the better things in life. Particularly when it comes to meat, the supermarkets won’t get my business. I prefer local, high welfare, preferably free range, organic meat from a passionate farmer or butcher. It’s better for the animal, it’s better for Ireland, and it’s better for me.

That’s why as soon as I saw how passionate Tipperary butcher Pat Whelan was about his offering, I just had to ask him for the lend of one of his food prep videos. This is the proper way of cooking pork belly, which makes for a seriously gorgeous alternative to the standard roast. Feel free to add additional side dishes.

The wine match

Merlot gets a hard rap these days, but I would encourage anyone who is still not convinced to keep experimenting, first with blends and then a few single variety Merlots. This slow cooked pork belly is proper Sunday food for me, so Merlot dominated Bordeaux reds spring to mind.

Again, if you’re not convinced, keep trying. Now more than ever, Bordeaux has more accessible and modern styles available at great value, the vast majority going terrifically well with food, even if it has all the trimmings in terms of root vegetables and so on.

First up, 58 Guineas Everyday Claret does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a solid everyday wine that suits any occasion, whether it involves food or not. Secondly, Château Les Deux Cèdres is one I believe is built for food as you might find it a little restrained and too dry without it. It would really come into its own with this type of food.

Lastly from Bordeaux, I can’t neglect one of our most popular wines, Château Bauduc Clos des Quinze, which has a pretty tasty price tag at the moment. The tannins are very mellow and beautifully integrated with the right balance of acidity. Enjoy with or without food.

Pat is one of the pioneers of online retailing in Ireland. Shop online:

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