Good quality pork belly like we’ve used in this recipe from Taste Tradition near Thirsk is glorious in its unctuousness – especially when time is taken to prepare and cook it for the plate. Cook it too fast you won’t get the depth of flavour. And it will be too chewy, putting you off for life!
This recipe is a wonderful celebration of pork, and marrying it with Ampleforth Abbey cider truly is a match made in heaven….
Confit pork belly, vanilla and cider reduction and spiced cider shot
800g pork belly, with skin, bones removed
100g aromatic confit salt (see below)
2 litres rendered duck fat
Half a garlic bulb cut round the girth
6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
Aromatic confit salt
100g coarse sea salt
Half cinnamon stick
2 garlic cloves
4 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
Small bay leaf
1 star anise
4 coriander seeds
Vanilla and cider reduction
750ml Ampleforth Abbey cider (or similar)
300ml clear apple juice
1 vanilla pod, slit along its length
500ml rose veal stock (or brown chicken stock) – TRUE Foods near Ripon do excellent ones
500ml Ampleforth Abbey cider
2 slices orange
Eating apple, cut into wedges
A little sugar
For the confit salt, place all the ingredients in a mortar and pound well until crushed and aromatic, or use a grinder – a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices is good. Keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks
Rub the aromatic salt all over the pork belly, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 24 hours to marinate
Preheat the oven to 110C. Rinse the pork belly of the salt and pat dry. Slowly heat the rendered duck fat in a heatproof roasting pan or large casserole, then add the pork, garlic and herbs, ensuring the meat is completely submerged.
Cut a piece of baking parchment the size of the pan to make a cartouche and place on the surface. Do not cover the pan.
Bake for around 4 hours – when it is done, you should be able to push the handle of a spoon through the meat with little resistance.
Allow the pork to cool a little then carefully turn it skin side down and remove any pieces of cartilage. Weight the pork down between 2 baking sheets – I use two clean house bricks wrapped in heavy duty foil – and chill overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the pork belly from the fridge and cut into neat squares with a sharp knife. In a heavy-based non-stick frying pan, cook until the skin starts to colour. Transfer to the oven, smearing the skin with a little salt and butter, and cook for 5-10 minutes until the meat has warmed through and the skin is golden.
For the vanilla and cider reduction, place all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to 200ml or until thick and syrupy.
For the spiced cider, place all the ingredients in a pan and warm through gently for about 20 minutes. Do not boil. Strain and keep warm. Serve in handle shot glasses.