This Hairy Bikers recipe has got to be my favourite dinner party recipe. It tastes amazing, has wow factor and most importantly, is very easy to make with the oven doing most of the work for you. Which I think is important when you are entertaining. The point is to spend time with your family and/or friends, not to spend the whole time in the kitchen.

Even though we normally have a ‘cold’ Christmas lunch (due to the Perth summer heat at Christmas), I couldn’t resist making this for our family lunch this year. The pork just melts in your mouth, with the wonderful contrast of super crackly crackling. And the apple cider sauce is just beautiful with it.

Pork belly

Pork belly with apple and sage

Serves 4-8 (depending on size of the pork belly)

You will need two baking/roasting trays for this recipe, with one able to go on the stovetop.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 – 2 kg pork belly (bones removed, skin scored)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 6-8 sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons plain flour
  • 200ml cider

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C fan forced (240C).
  2. Dry the pork belly skin with kitchen paper. Mix together the thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub this mix over the pork and skin (both sides).
  3. Place the pork in a flameproof baking tray (this will need to go on the stovetop later to make the sauce) and add a small amount of water to the tray (this helps make the sauce, making sure to keep the skin dry).
  4. Roast for 30 minutes until the skin is crisp. Reduce the oven to 160C fan forced (180C) and cook for another hour.
  5. Mix the apples, onions sage and a little pepper together and place in the middle of the second baking tray.
  6. Remove the pork from the oven (after the hour at 160C fan forced) and place on top of the apple mix. Ensure all the apple mix is under the pork so it does not burn. Return to the oven and cook for a further hour, until the meat is tender.
  7. Meanwhile, skim any fat from the cooking juices and place over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then slowly add the cider and 100ml of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened slightly. Strain through a sieve into a small saucepan and season to taste. Set aside until needed.
  8. Remove the pork from the oven and check the crackling. If it hasn’t gone crisp, remove the skin from the pork and return to the oven on a tray/rack and increase the oven temperature back to 220C fan forced. Cook for a further 15-30 minutes until crisp (check regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn). My old oven has  cold patches, so I find I always need to do this in my oven.
  9. Rest the pork for 30 minutes prior to carving (if you have removed the crackling you can cover with foil to keep warm). Serve with the apple mix and reheated gravy.

Source – The Hairy Bikers Pork Belly with Apple and Sage