- 2kg piece boneless and skinless pork belly (ask your butcher to keep the skin for the crackling potato cake, see 'Goes well with')
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…
- 5 dried bay leaves
- 25g butter
Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…
- 3 carrots, roughly chopped
The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…
- 400ml cider
Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples. Apple orchards were…
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
The day before you want to eat, lay the pork belly skinned-side down, season generously, scatter over the fennel seeds and crumble over 3 of the bay leaves. From the widest side, roll into a tight log and use some butcher’s string to tie at regular intervals. (You could take some fennel seeds and bay to your butcher and ask them to do it for you.)
Heat oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3 1/2. Melt the butter in a large, shallow flameproof casserole dish or ovenproof sauté pan. Brown the pork all over (this will take a good 15 mins), then remove from the pan and add the vegetables and remaining bay leaves. Cook for about 10 mins until starting to colour. Nestle the pork among the veg. Pour over the cider and bring everything to a simmer, cover and cook in the oven for 2 hrs.
When the pork is ready, leave to cool a bit, then remove the pork from the braise and chill. Strain the sauce into a jug and chill. Fish out the bay leaves and blitz the veg to a purée in a food processor. Tip into a bowl and chill.
On the day, heat oven to 220C/ 200C fan/gas 8. Cut the pork into six rounds. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the pork, then put in the oven for 20 mins, turning halfway through, until crispy. Meanwhile, remove the solidified fat from the top of the braising juices, simmer until syrupy and reheat the purée. Serve everything in the middle of the table or smear some of the purée across plate, sit a piece of pork on top next to a burnt butter cabbage wedge, a piece of potato cake and some crackling (see 'Goes well with', right). Pour over some of the sauce and serve.