Pork belly. What does it conjure up in your mind? For me, its meltingly tender, juicy meat and, if I’m lucky, crispy, caramelised crackling.
This is our favourite way to have pork belly, slowly braised in the oven with a marinade of caraway seeds and garlic, alongside practically stewed apples, soft potatoes and caramelised onions.
Its based on Nigella Lawson’s beer braised pork knuckles but I’ve never actually cooked pork knuckles before. I’ve tried this recipe using a pork loin roast, which is great, but there is just something special about the belly of the pig. Its the extra layers of fat keeping the meat moist.
This is a lovely wintery meal to cook on a weekend when there is plenty of time for the pork to slow cook and for your house to smell amazing. My kids enjoy it but they are a little fussy about the apples! They love their apples but find the idea strange that you can cook apples with meat. I’m sure in time they’ll be converted!
Inspired by Nigella’s recipe for Beer Braised Pork Knuckles
2 teaspoons sea or pink salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 kilo pork belly or pork roast
2 onions, cut into rounds
2 red apples, cored and quartered
4-6 potatoes, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups boiling water
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celcius. If you are using pork belly, rub the salt, garlic and caraway seeds into the meaty underside of the belly – not the skin-side. If using a piece of pork roast, rub the salt, garlic and caraway seeds all over the roast. (You can use a mortar and pestle to grind the caraway seeds together with the garlic and salt if you wish).
Arrange the onions on the bottom of a roasting pan or pot and sit the pork on top. Cook for 30 minutes.
Take the pan out of the oven and nestle the potatoes and apples around the pork. Pour 1 cup of stock over the potatoes and apples. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees celcius, put a lid or some foil on the pan and cook for 2 hours.
Spoon the cooked potatoes and apples out of the pan and keep warm. Pour the remaining cup of stock into the pan (not on the pork skin), uncovered, for another 30 minutes.
If you are cooking pork belly, now is the time to make crackling. I usually do this by removing the pork from the pan, placing it on a roasting tray then grilling it in the oven to crisp up the skin.
Put the pan with the onions and pork juices onto a medium heat on the stove and add two cups of boiling water to de-glaze the pan and make a gravy.
Serve with extra vegetables.