Cider Braised Pork Belly

7 Aug

So apologies for the crappy photo – it was dark and there was an audience and I hate being that wanker who takes photos of her food. But. THIS WAS DELICIOUS! …As long as you have some time on your hands.

I wanted a pork roast to take away for our Christmas in July weekend – I knew we’d drive past all the apple orchards on the edge of Sydney and it seemed a no-brainer. But alas! There were no big loins available and the hipster at my fancy free-range pork place in Redfern talked me into BELLY instead. It was just insanely yummy and succulent and not super fatty (well, not in a bad way). Are you ready for the very complicated recipe?

Take your belly and slice a rough grid pattern into the fat on the top. This is the trickiest bit, especially if you’re at a holiday house and forgot to bring your own knife. You’re supposed to take care not to slice deep enough to hit flesh, just fat.

Place the pork in a roasting pan with some chopped up apples, onion and garlic, and pour over a bottle of dry apple cider (the boozy kind), until meat is almost completely covered. Rub plenty of salt and some fennel seeds into the fatty top, and place in a slow oven, about 160c. Then wait about 3 or 4 hours, checking every now and again to top up with more cider as required. In retrospect, it might be a good idea to scoop some of the liquid pork fat out halfway through and replace with cider. This was almost more confit pork than braised pork because of the amount of fat my belly released.

OH BELLY!

Anyway, after about 4 hours I pulled it out. It was still holding its shape nicely, not all melty and stringy like a shoulder would become. But of course, no crackling skin. Hmmmmm. Dilemma. The hipster butcher suggested flipping the belly and frying off the skin in a pan at the end but that didn’t seem right. So I popped the whole thing back under the hot grill. Magic ensued! I guess because the skin had spent 4 hours drying out, it was perfectly primed to bubble and sizzle and puff up into the kind of crackling that dreams are made of.

You can thank me later.

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