After a most delightful trip to Brodway Market on Saturday, indulging in the beautiful market food and enjoying cider by the river whilst people strummed their guitars and exchanged tea for hugs, we decided to have a wee dinner party at home, in the cosy hub of our flat, to hide away from the vicious winter chill that has fast dawned upon us. The cut of choice was pork belly. I have been meaning to do it now for some time but never seem to get rouund to it. Nonetheless,  it was a roaring success.

Having recently been leant the ‘Flavour Thesaurus’  (Niki Segnit) by a friend, and having frantically flicked through it during a night of fearful insomnia, I decided that I would go down the apple/cardamon route. I adore cardamon and use it in perhaps more things than I should, some quite peculiar, but it has that wonderfully fragrant smell and taste that seems to lift certain things into other things which are ameliorated quite magnificently! This is not to say that the pork was without flavour. Au contraire. But it worked well and went down a treat!

The piece that I bought was big and heavy and gloriously marbled. The butcher scored it for me and off we went on our merry way, back to Brixton and excited about the feast that was about to ensue.

Pork Belly – 2kgs
3 white onions, sliced
3 cooking apples, cut into eigths
A handful of cardamon pods, seeds removed from pods and roughly crushed in pestle and mortar
6 cloves of garlic, whole but slightly sqashed to release the juices
Four carrots, cut into thick batons
Some olive oil
750ml cider (can be from a can but good country cider is a bonus)
Maldon sea salt and black pepper

In a bowl, toss the onions, garlic, apples, carrots, cardamon with a glug of oil and some salt and pepper to season. Place these in a roasting dish so that they cover the whole surface, a bed for the pork to lie on.

Rub a little bit of oil on the upside fatty layer of the pork and then run lots and lots of sea salt into it, making sure that it really gets into all the crevices. Make sure that, apart from the samll amount of oil, the top stays otherwise completely dry. Place the meat on top of the vegetables and then place in a pre-heated oven, that is as hot as it will go (250C).

After 10-15 mins (or when the fatty skin has started to puff up), lower the temperature to 170C and cook for a further one and a half hours. After that, gently draw the roasting dish out and pour the cider around the outside, so that it covers the veg but does not touch the top of the meat. Cook for a further hour.

By now, the crackling on top shoudl be really crispy. Remove from the oven and place on a chopping board. The easiest thing to do is to remove the cracking, carve the pork belly into decent sized, rustic chunks and put some crackling on top and the vegetables with the cider make for a perectly delicious sauce!

Serving suggestion:
This time round, I served the pork belly with mashed butternut sqaush and broccoli. That was brilliant but really, the world is your oyster. You know what you like so you’ll know what works best!