#1 – 48 Recipe Challenge: Recipe 15: Pork Belly Braised with Apples and Cider
This month’s recipe includes another new (to me) ingredient: pork belly. I’ll admit to being a bit of a wuss when it comes to cuts of meat and tend to simply head for the easiest to deal with – chicken breasts, mince, pork tenderloin, braising steak etc… Anything with bones in or needing much doing to it tends to be put into the ‘too difficult’ box. But, for Father’s Day I thought I’d push the boat out and experiment a bit and since I know Dad loves pork belly, this recipe (which I tore out the of Telegraph Magazine years ago) seemed a great place to start.
I got my lovely local butcher to slice the pork belly for me (still wimping out!), so the first job was to sear the pieces. After searing all sides I was pleased to see the fat bubble up and crisp, resembling crackling. After that it was a simple chop veg and assemble job before the casserole did its stuff in the oven for a couple of hours.
I served it with some braised red cabbage and new potatoes. Not the easiest dish to present so it looked a bit of a state on the plate but it tasted pretty good.
Pork and apple is a classic combination for a reason. It was also a great dinner party dish; prep done well before anyone arrives and doesn’t matter if it sits around in the oven. The only thing I was disappointed with was that braising the pork softened the fat again, so instead of being crispy like crackling it was flabby and soft. Perhaps I should have expected this, but I didn’t realise that braising the pork belly after crisping the fat would have that effect. Because of that, I probably wouldn’t make this exact dish again because when I’ve eaten pork belly in restaurants it’s the crispiness I’ve loved. I’m happy enough to experiment with pork belly again though, but next time I’ll ensure that the belly isn’t in the sauce for too long!
So, scores on the doors:
Ease of Preparation – 8/10 (not a whole lot to do except cut things up and put them in a casserole)
Flavour/Taste – 7/10 (the pork and apple combo is always a winner but I felt it needed crispy rather than soft pork)
Healthiness – 2/10 (pork belly is not a healthy option!)
Turns out it’s actually a Delia Smith recipe. If you’re interested, here it is (although personally I think it’s not her best work):