Braised Pork Belly with Apples and Cider

From Julie Van Rosendaal

2015 Jan/Feb

Apples and cider make a popular pairing with braised pork – the long, low cooking time gives the meat a chance to become tender, and the apples wind up soft and slurpy. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes, to catch the drips.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork belly (about 1-1/2 lbs)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • cooking oil
  • 2 onions, halved and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into eighths
  • 2-3 c. apple cider (hard or soft)
  • small handful fresh sage or a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme

Directions:

Pat the skin side of the pork belly dry and score it by running a sharp knife across it at 1-inch intervals, then do the same in the opposite direction. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Set a heavy roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of oil. When the pan is hot, put the pork in skin-side down and cook until deep golden and crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Put the onions and apples in the bottom of the pan and pour over enough cider to cover them. Place the pork on top, skin-side up; add a bit more cider if necessary so it comes about halfway up the pork. Scatter the fresh herbs around the belly and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 2-1/2 hours. Turn the heat up to 450°F and cook for another 20-30 minutes, until crisp on top. Slice and serve the meat with the soft apples and onions and drizzle with the pan juices. Serves 4-6.