Ultimate Hogwich

The idea of making ‘ultimate sandwiches’ has been brewing in my head for a while now; hell, I started already by making the meatball sub, the best chicken sandwich of my life and the po’ boy of dreams. Since then I’ve been, well, distracted, but when I was recently sent a sous vide machine to play around with, I knew it was time to get it involved. It had to be a meaty sandwich, it had to be extreme, and it had to be made in the Sous Vide Supreme.

I wanted to start with pork so I went down to the new butcher in Peckham, Flock and Herd, and bought a frankly massive piece of pork belly – 3kg. No idea why. The plan was to vac pack it, which is GREAT fun by the way; the first thing I vacced was two tomatoes and a cucumber – I’m sure you can imagine the arrangement. Very mature. Anyway, so I would smother the belly with fennel, chilli and garlic, roll it up like a porchetta, pack it and sous vide it for, ideally, 36 hours. Seems like a long time doesn’t it? It is. I wasn’t going to argue with Serious Eats however, which is where I found the appropriate cooking time and temperature; this is long enough for all the connective bits in this famously gnarly cut to break down into lovely gelatinous goo.

Complete with nipples…

My butcher’s knots need a little work…

So the sous videing was sorted but what to do about crackling? Long slow water bathing isn’t going to achieve that and we all know that crackling is the best bit; what good would the ultimate pork sandwich be without crispy pig fat? This is where the Serious Eats recipe really comes into its own, suggesting that the crackling is achieved by deep frying. Yes. Is deep frying a porchetta excessive? Yes. Is it very unhealthy? Yes. Does it achieve the perfect crunchy crackling we’re looking for? Definitely. So on the inside we have 36 hour (well, 30 actually; I didn’t fancy eating it at 4.30am) cooked ultra soft and succulent pork belly and on the outside the kind of satisfying crunch that can only ever be achieved by plunging meat into a wok full of hot oil and frying the shit out of it. Incredible.

Two versions of the sandwich were made. The first time I tried to be all posh about it, making a fresh mustard seeded slaw and a chilli flecked quince sauce to drizzle; the latter complements the hog in the same way as apple sauce but with a  more interesting fragrance. Piled on to a soft white loaf it was good, but it just wasn’t right. I’d deep fried the pork for goodness’ sake; there was something just too damn clean about the rest of the sandwich.

Round 2. Amendment number 1 = different bread; I’d wanted to keep things British but in the end caved to the superior sturdy chew of ciabatta. Amendment 2 = pimp my shop bought coleslaw, yo. Yeah, that’s right, a mayo laden coleslaw was mixed with shredded spring onions, wholegrain mustard and a little lemon juice until it was just, well, pretty tasty actually. The quince sauce had to stay but needed a filth injection which came in the form of hot sauce and plenty of it (No Joke to be precise – it has the fruity notes to fit with the quince), plus all the glorious golden jelly from the outside of the sous vided pork. Now we were talking. Almost. The pork was sliced and then…guilty eyes met eager ones…a suggestion was made…the next thing I know I’m deep frying individual slices of the pork belly. That’s right, a second deep frying; more surface area to get good and crisp.

Ultimate Hogwich was born.

Ultimate Hogwich (I got like a million sandwiches out of this plus some of the best instant noodle pimpage I’ve ever achieved; recipe to follow)

This is by no means a quick job; 30 hours is definitely the longest I’ve ever waited for something to cook, but it was worth it. The sous vide machine is immense fun and the results are incredible; I can’t stop thinking about what to try next. The recipe can of course be made by just cooking the pork belly without a sous vide machine. Radical.

1 boneless pork belly, about 3kg in weight
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon hot chilli flakes
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
String to tie the pork belly

Heat the sous vide machine to 68.5C (Serious Eats suggested 68.3 but my machine wouldn’t have that) and start prepping the pork. Lay it out flat, skin side down and score the flesh in a diamond pattern. In a dry pan, toast the fennel seeds and black peppercorns until fragrant, moving the pan about over a low heat so they don’t burn.

Grind the fennel seeds and peppercorns in a pestle and mortar, then sprinkle all over the pork belly flesh. Sprinkle the chilli flakes over the pork too, add the bay leaves and grate over the garlic using a microplane grater. Use your hands to work everything into the pork.

Roll the pork and use string to tie it tightly into a roll. Mix 1 tablespoon salt with the bicarbonate of soda and rub this all over the surface of the porchetta. You may then need to cut it into two pieces in order to vac pack it – I did.

So…vac pack it and once the sous vide machine has reached temperature, lower the pork in. Cook it for erm, 30 hours or even 36 if you are more organised than me. Once that’s done, remove the pork and plunge it into a sink full of iced water for 15 minutes, then remove from the bags, and save all the lovely gelatinous stuff round the edge. This is precious. Pat the pork dry, heat your oil for deep frying and really, really carefully, lower it into the oil. The pork should be halfway submerged, not totally. It will need about 5 minutes each side, during with time you should carefully spoon the oil over the exposed side. Just be bloody careful constantly, basically.

Then it just needs a final patting with kitchen paper before resting for 5 minutes and slicing.

For the quince sauce and coleslaw: melt a couple of tablespoons quince paste with some of the pork jelly and some hot sauce to taste. For the coleslaw, mix some shop bought coleslaw with lemon juice, spring onions and some wholegrain mustard. Pile the whole lot into a ciabatta and add a cheeky extra dash of hot sauce if you fancy it.

Category: Main Dishes, Meat, Sandwiches | Tags: , , , , , 36 comments »

36 Responses to “Ultimate Hogwich”

  1. Jonathan

    This is ridiculously brilliant. If anyone ever creates a more amazing sandwich I’ll be in shock. All hail the Helenwich.

  2. Helen

    Ha ha! I knew I could count on my fellow sandwich fanatic…

  3. Chloe

    I’d totally wait 30 hours for one of those. Amazing!

  4. Helen

    Cheers m’ dear!

  5. Jo

    Reading this at 10.30 at work with no snacks is a terrible idea. This sounds so bloody good. I went to Flock and Herd the other week, nice bacon!

  6. Helen

    yeah I think it’s fab (Flock and Herd I mean). Charlie is ex Ginger Pig as you may know. Fantastic meat. Must get some bacon!

  7. Magoo

    This looks truly amazing. I now have a plan for this weekends consumption of filth…

  8. Donald Edwards

    I think the dairylea lunchable scampi fry combo was better

  9. Helen


  10. Alicia (foodycat)

    Uh-mazing. What does the bicarb do?

  11. Helen

    It makes the skin more crispy

  12. sam b.

    You had me at “frying the shit out of it.” That looks just so ridiculously good.

  13. Helen

    I believe that’s a proper technical culinary term.

  14. Lizzie

    Melon what are you doing to me??? Holy mother. I wish to god I wasn’t so hungover last Sunday. I would have smashed the shit out of this. DAMMIT.

  15. Helen

    I know! Boo sticks. I’ve been eating it for a week.

  16. Robert

    I admire your dedication to good food. It’s truly a genius! Are you planning on a cafe/food stall?! I’m not going to make it myself but I’ll be happy to buy it.

  17. Helen

    Ha! Well I’d love to but I’m currently doing a PhD which is pretty time consuming…

  18. Richard Elliot

    Loving the dedication to pork sandwich! I’ve only attempted to sous vide once. I didn’t have a sous vide machine so cobbled together a sauce pan, sandwich bag and themometer. It was quite a lot of hassle as I couldn’t stray too far from the kitchen!

  19. Helen

    Hmmm yes there’s a lot to be said for the machine method ;)

  20. Helen

    Admiring your resourcefulness though…

  21. Selena

    OMFG….i am actually drooling. Amazing

  22. Stephen

    A long time cooking for sure but I’d imagine eaten very quickly. I’ve seen the sous vide machines demonstrated but never actually had something cooked by this method. I feel I’m missing out now.

  23. Helen

    yeah, I mean they’re obviously used a lot by restaurants and not so much at home. i was sceptical but you know what? The results were actually incredible.

  24. Mr Noodles

    To be fair, the 0.2C temperature difference doesn’t seem to have too much of an adverse effect!

  25. Grace

    Helen, I’ve been reading for ages and this is the first time commenting. Not because I don’t love all your writing and recipes because by God, I do(your kofta curry is a regular). But HOW, in your list of “ultimate sandwiches”, could you forget the original ultimate sandwich which is: the chicken sandwich you made using the leftover chicken and oil from the 40 cloves of garlic recipe?! Don’t you know that sometimes when I’m hungry and still at work (like now) I go and look at pictures of that sandwich and get sustenance just from seeing it?! For shame.

    This also looks amazing btw!

  26. Helen

    Yeah, pretty sure I got away with it ;)

  27. Helen

    Oh. Em. Gee! Right, I’m editing the post…

  28. Paul

    I was pretty amazed how good pork chops were when I cooked them in the water bath the other week. I was so incredibly close to cooking the serious eats porchetta recipe as well I have to say it sounds amazing. After 30 hours what texture did the fat get to???

  29. Liz Thomas

    Oh! Wow!

    I would love to make this but no vac pak and no sous vide. Guess what I want for Christmas!

    I bet it tasted wonderful and that jelly looks amazing!


  30. Helen

    It was really, really soft. wibbly. Perfect. The meat stayed so damn juicy as well. Amazing.

  31. Helen

    If you got one for Christmas you could sous vide a turkey!

  32. Alastair

    Your Hogwich looks absolutely delicious! Very creative!

    Best regards!


  33. Helen


  34. Russell

    You ledge. You utter, utter ledge.

  35. Hungry

    holy crap – that sounds/looks amAZing!

    “holy crap – that sounds amazing” is my response to at least 90% of your recipes, followed by hunger pangs that remain unsated by any other food… Damn you Helen, damn you and your pictures and your mouth watering writing.

  36. Helen

    Ha ha! Awww bless ya. And thank you nice lady.

Leave a Reply

Back to top