Braised Pork Neck in Cabbage with White Bean Pistou

Pork Balls and Cabbage in a Bean Pistou
A tricky technique to master but well worth the effort!


The recipes on the blog here are all for home cooking.  I’ve tried to avoid overly tricky dishes – the idea was to give you something a little different to the usual cook book standard choices. I hope you enjoy them.

This is another one of my one-pot wonders; life is too short for washing dishes.   Although this one demands a little attention from you budding chefs, the result is sublime and the smells seeping through the door will test your willpower no end – I dare you not to lick the oven!

The absolute best thing about this dish is that leftovers can be chilled and used later in the week. Chop, bung together and reheat in stock for an amazing rustic nostalgic soup,

This week Fiona and I are lucky enough to have been invited to a night on the town.  There will be a few friends coming back to ours and I cannot think of a better dish to get everyone back on an even keel!  Prepare this the night before and serving is a piece of cake – you and your guests will be… well, as happy as a pig in cabbage!

Braised Pork Neck in Cabbage with White Bean Pistou

1k boneless pork neck
Pinch of five spice powder
50g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large savoy cabbage
250g dried haricot beans, soaked overnight
3 cloves garlic halved with the germ removed
2 carrots peeled and halved
2 onions peeled and halved
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of thyme
2 fresh bayleaves
2 rashers of grilled bacon
1.5 litres of chicken stock fresh or with stock cubes
2 tablespoons double cream
Handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon of toasted pinenut
1 tablespoon of finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


Have ready your large pan with a tight fitting lid – one that will be good for the hob and oven. Place on the hob and melt the butter until lightly browned in the olive oil.  Season the pork neck all over with plenty of salt, pepper and the five spice and carefully brown all over this may take up to 15 minutes.  Remove the pork and immediately add the vegetables, garlic and herbs and cook for a further 5 minutes allowing them to caramelise slightly; add the beans, bacon, bay leaves and stock, place the pork back into the pan. Very slowly bring up to a simmer, place a lid on the pan and braise slowly in a moderate oven for approximately 2.5 hours, check half way you have enough liquid, add boiling water if need be.

Meanwhile make the pesto by simply placing the last 4 ingredients into a food processor or hand chopping finely; add a pinch of salt and reserve for later.  Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, blanch until softened in boiling salted water and immediately cool in iced water. Dry off and remove centre stalk and cut neat whole circles of each leaf big enough to wrap your pork inside.  Once the pork is ready allow to cool then roughly chop it into a bowl.  Gently massage with some of the stock and roll into balls.  Place a square of cling film on a board, add an upturned cabbage leaf and on top of this, a ball of pork (in the middle).  Wrap the cabbage firmly around the pork, trim any excess cabbage and secure with the cling film into a ball and tie to hold.

Remove the vegetables and herbs from the beans, add the cream to 1 pint of stock and reduce slightly; reserve the remainder. Chop the vegetables into the sauce and add enough beans to thicken. Warm the cabbage parcels in a pan of water, remove the cling film and top with the basil pesto as shown. Enjoy!

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