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Crispy Cider-braised Pork belly

Crispy Cider-braised Pork belly

Preparation Time

20 minutes

Cooking Time

3 hours 30 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Large carrot roughly chopped
1 Onion roughly chopped
Few celery sticks roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves smashed
Spring fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
500ml good quality cider
Small splash of cider vinegar, plus extra to season
1l fresh chicken stock
1.2kg piece unscored boneless pork belly
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Apple mash and mustard cabbage to serve

Method

Day 1: Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Place all the ingredients except the pork and sunflower oil in a flameproof pan that will fit the pork snugly – a casserole dish is ideal. Season, bring everything to the boil then turn down the heat and slide the pork into the pan. The pork should be totally submerged – if it isn’t, top up with water. Cover the dish with a lid or tight tent of foil and place it in the oven for 3 hrs undisturbed.

When the pork is cooked, leave it to cool slightly in the stock. Line a flat baking tray with cling film. Carefully lift the pork into the tray and make sure you get rid of any bits of vegetables or herbs as they will end up pressed into the pork. Cover the pork with another sheet of cling film and cover with a flat tray or dish – the tray must be completely flat as any indentations will be pressed into the pork. Weigh the pork down with another dish or some cans and leave to cool in the fridge overnight. Strain the juices into a jug or small saucepan, cover and chill.

Day 2: Unwrap the pork and place on a board. Trim the uneven edges so that you have a neat sheet of meat. Cut the meat into 4 equal pieces and set aside until ready to cook. Lift off any bits of fat from the braising juices and tip what will now be jelly into a saucepan, then bubble down by about two-thirds until starting to become slightly syrupy. Add a few more drops of vinegar, to taste.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan until hot, then turn the heat down. Add the pork to the pan, skin-side down – be careful as it has a tendency to spit. Sizzle the pork as you would bacon for 5 mins until the skin is crisp. Flip it over and cook for 3-4 mins until browned. Place a small pile of cabbage on the side of each plate and sit a piece of pork on top. Place a spoonful of mash on the other side of the plate, drizzle over the sauce and serve.

Recipe Tips

Apple Mash
Bring 2 large, peeled and chopped baking potatoes to the boil and simmer for 10 mins. Add 1 large peeled, cored and chopped Bramley apple and simmer for 5 mins. Drain and return to the pan through a potato ricer, or mash. Over a low heat, beat in 100ml/3½fl oz double cream and a knob of butter. Season and serve.

Mustard Cabbage
Quarter, core and finely shred 1 small Savoy cabbage. Cook in boiling water for 3 mins, then drain and refresh under cold water. Place cabbage in a pan with 3 tbsp double cream and 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard and reheat. Season and serve.