Winter has its good points…. no really it does! What about a hearty roast of succulent pork belly with crisp crackling and apples baked in their skins that make themselves into self-contained, apple sauce? This recipe delivers a great result and it’s so easy. All it requires is the best pork belly and some quality oven time.
Accompany with a fresh, fennel and mint salad with a zesty lemon juice and olive oil dressing – this is a great match for the rich meat. A big bowl of steamed kale or other greens alongside, simply dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and it’s a perfect winter feast.
Our friendly wine consultant from the excellent Oxford Wine Company, recommends a Beaujolais such as Fleurie, or a lighter Côtes du Rhône. If you prefer a white, a Clare Valley (South Australia) Riesling would be ideal.
1.2kg pork belly – Check that it is high welfare, ethically farmed
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
6 granny smith or other cooking apples
800g of Jerusalem artichokes
Sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bulb of garlic, cloves unpeeled
1 glass of Riesling (or wine of choice)
Turn the oven to the highest temperature you can get it to. Using a sharp knife, score the skin down to the meat but not into the flesh. Cut close together lines in one direction only. Place the meat in a roasting dish.
Rub the skin of the pork belly with half of the olive oil and the salt. Drizzle over the remaining oil and really rub it in.
Score a line around the circumference of each apple – this stops them from bursting during cooking. Put the pork into the very hot oven for 10-15 minutes or until the skin of the belly starts to bubble and is golden brown.
Remove and scatter the artichokes around the meat as well as the prepared apples sitting stalk end down. Throw in the thyme and the unpeeled garlic cloves. Add a glass of wine – you can choose either red or white.
Turn the oven temperature down to 170°C/325°F/gas 3 then roast for 2.5 hours. Check after 1.5 hours and continue cooking until the meat easily pulls apart.
Note: If the apples or vegetables are cook too fast, remove and set aside. Add back in the last 10 minute of cooking.
Take the meat out of the oven when cooked and rest in a warm place.
Serve thick slices or remove and divide up the crackling and pull the meat apart with a fork and share. Make sure everyone gets a whole baked apple to compliment the meat.
A bowl of fresh, fennel salad and some steamed greens is all you need alongside.