When he’s not busy in the kitchens of Harvest Restaurant or The French Connection Bistro, you can find Chef Matthew Gordon in the air or in the mountains, indulging his passion for flying helicopters and mountain biking. This celebrated chef, with over 28 years of experience, has worked with some of South Africa’s top chefs, and in some of the country’s leading kitchens. After beginning his career at the Carlton Hotel, Matthew completed his chefs training with Manfred Muellers at what was then the Wits Hotel School in Johannesburg. He’s since headed up kitchens at the Sandton Sun and Mount Nelson Hotels, was the first South African chef to appear at The James Beard House in New York, and started his first restaurant in Franschhoek in 1992. Today, he is the consulting chef for Laborie’s acclaimed Harvest restaurant in Paarl as well as owning The French Connection Bistro in Franschhoek. His approach to food is fresh and locally-inspired, using home-grown and free range ingredients where possible, and he is known for his beautifully plated dishes that offer diners classic flavours with a modern edge.

Slow-cooked pork belly with Chinese master stock glaze, Asian greens stir-fry and Nam jim

1 kg pork belly
1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock
400g mirepoix mix, carrots, onion, celery and leek
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Master stock

1.5 litres chicken stock
275ml soy sauce
50ml rice wine vinegar
20g brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 star anise
1 piece cassia bark
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 cardamom pod, cracked
2 oranges, juiced and zested
2 fresh red chillies, split
100g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
200ml honey

Nam jim

1 bunch fresh coriander, washed and chopped
30ml fish sauce
50g sugar
3 fresh limes, juiced
1 green chilli, chopped

Stir fry

80g red onion, sliced
150g mange tout, julienned
150g bean sprouts
150g baby corn, quartered lengthwise
100g bok choy, shredded
100g tatsoi leaves
150g noodles, blanched
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Pea shoots for garnish

  • Place the pork belly, mirepoix, peppercorns and bay leaves in a roasting pan and cover with the stock. Cover the roasting pan with tin foil and place into an oven pre-heated to 140°C for 3 hours and slow cook. Check that the belly is tender and has rendered most of the fat. Allow to cool, then place another weighted roasting pan on top and refrigerate until set hard. Portion the belly into equal approximately 200g blocks. Score the top of each piece and place in a roasting pan to heat up before serving.
  • For the master stock, combine all the ingredients, bring to the boil and then simmer gently for one hour. Strain through a muslin or oil filter.
  • For the glaze, caramelise the honey in a pan, then add the strained master stock and reduce until it can coat the back of a spoon.
  • Combine the ingredients for the Nam jim and check the seasoning.
  • Warm up the pork in an oven at 180°C and when ready to serve, brush with the glaze and finish under a grill.
  • Stir-fry the vegetables in a hot wok with a mixture of sesame and sunflower oil, adding the noodles when the vegetables are nearly cooked (do not over-cook). Assemble in a bowl, placing the stir fry in first, pork belly on top (brushed with a little more glaze) and top with the Nam jim.
  • Put a small ladle of the master stock around the vegetables and garnish with pea shoots (or coriander if unavailable). Eat and enjoy.
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