The Cornwall-based chef opts for a Seychelles send-off
I would have my last meal in the Seychelles. My mum is from the islands, and I’ve only been once in my life, as a small child. I met my mum’s family – my grandmother and my cousins, and it has always been my dream to go back.
I remember the giant tortoises and the bluest of seas – it was like the old Bounty advert! There were also huge rocks on the roadside … I remember sliding down one and burning a hole in my shorts.
I’d want to be on the beach, with just Emma, my wife, at sunset. I know it’s a bit cliched, but it would be incredibly special to eat on the beach, just as the sun is going down.
We would start with fresh crab, served with mayonnaise on sourdough toast.
And then we would move on to Emma’s roast pork belly: she makes it atop a bed of red and white onion and apple, with roughly chopped fresh sage and a good amount of extra virgin olive oil. It’s the perfect mixture of soft, juicy and crispy.
With that we would have carrots with star anise, broccoli with olive oil and rock salt, roast potatoes with turmeric, and leeks and cabbage with a little cumin, streaky smoked bacon and a generous helping of creme fraiche.
To finish I’d want Gary Rhodes to make his bread and butter pudding – a vanilla custard poured on to layers of white bread with sultanas, and baked in a bain marie, so it’s cooked like a creme brulee. It’s just amazing. A bit like Marco Pierre White with Pierre Hoffman’s pigs trotters, I pay homage to it: it’s on my menu at Number Six.
I’d have G’Vine gin, served with Fever‑Tree tonic and slices of pink grapefruit over lots of really good ice. Just the one drink, that’s all I’d need.
I would definitely need music – a real Café del Mar-style house mix; really chilled, good vibes. I’d love it to be mixed by Danny Rampling.
Emma and I would also make a mix from the iPod we used on our wedding day. I can’t think of anything better.
Paul Ainsworth’s pork belly recipe
Ask your butcher for the top end of the belly – 2kg max – and to score the top.
2 white onions
2 red onions, quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Fresh sage, roughly chopped
4 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 Take your pork belly out of the fridge and bring it up to room temperature. Set the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7.
2 Put the onions, apples, garlic, and sage and season with salt and pepper on a large oven tray.
3 Now for the pork belly. Put the pork on a clean work surface, skin-side up, and score across the skin with a small sharp knife, roughly 1cm apart – cut right through to the fat.
4 Rub the rock salt into the scores, turn the belly over and season both sides with the salt and black pepper. Don’t leave too much salt on top of the skin, as it can become too salty.
5 Now, put the pork on the tray with some of the onions and apples underneath and some surrounding. This will give you a mixture of soft, juicy and crispy bits! Finish with a glug of oil.
6 Now, put it into the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, take it out and give it a good rattle, shake and baste. Now put it back in the oven at 160C/325F/gas mark 3 and let it do its thing for 2 hours.
Leeks and cabbage
8-10 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, diced
1-2 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 tsp cumin
A little stock
2 large leeks, washed and sliced
1 large green cabbage, outer leaves discarded, inner leaves cut into strips
Pinch of sea salt
Black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp full fat creme fraiche
1 Fry the bacon in a large pan until nicely coloured and almost crispy. You could add a little butter or olive oil to prevent sticking, if necessary. Add the cumin and cook for 2 minutes.
2 Add a little stock and the leaks, steam for about 4-5 minutes, or until wilted.
3 Now add the cabbage and a knob of butter, then simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, until wilted.
4 Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Finish with the creme fraiche, stir over a low heat until all brought together.
Paul Ainsworth’s last meal: ‘My wife Emma’s roast pork belly ... It’s the perfect mixture of soft, juicy and crispy’
- Paul Ainsworth is chef-owner of Number 6 restaurant in Padstow