Crisp Belly Pork with Caramelised Apples

To satisfy 'at least eight human bellies'

  • 1 whole pork belly , boned and trimmed
  • whole garlic bulbs, halved
  • 4 sprigs of sage
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 litre dry cider
  • 8 Granny Smith apples
  • 60g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • Baking paper and foil

Crisp Belly Pork with Caramelised Apples

In a large roasting tray scatter the sage leaves, salt and pepper, olive oil and garlic halves. Place the pork belly in the tray skin-side up, season and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Pour ½ litre of the cider around the pork and cover with baking paper and then foil. Bake for 2 hours at 160°C/Gas 3. Check every 30mins and add more cider if drying up. Remove from the oven and increase the heat to 190°C/Gas 5. Uncover the pork and return to the oven for 30mins to crisp up. Lift the pork into a clean tray and leave to rest for 20mins. Now place the original tray on a low heat and add the remaining cider. Bring up to the boil then pour into a saucepan, through a sieve to catch the garlic and sage. Simmer this liquid until reduced by a third.

While all this is going on, find time to peel and core the apples and cut them into quarters. Melt the butter over a medium heat, add the apples and coat with the butter. Sprinkle the sugar over them and turn up the heat, cooking until the apples caramelise.

Cut the pork into eighths. To get really good crackling, put the pieces under a blazing hot grill for a short period (don't take your eyes off them or you'll find they've burned), slice the portions into thick chunks and serve with the sauce and caramelised apples.

Serve with a mature demi-sec Vouvray, new world chenin or, designer cider.

From The Wright Taste (Gomer Press, 2008), by food writer and restaurant critic Simon Wright.

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