This dish works best if you start it 24 hours in advance.
Ask your butcher for pieces of pork belly that are between 5–7.5cm (2-3in) thick. The best ones come from the front belly for a good balance of meat and fat.
The way to tell is to look at how much lean meat is layered with the fat and choose a slab that’s about 50/50 lean to fat and ensure that it is well trimmed down.
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1.5kg (3lb) pork belly, boned and rolled
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1.2 litres (2 pints) beef stock
- 600ml (1 pint) cider
- 600ml (1 pint) freshly pressed apple juice
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 1 tsp softened butter
- 4 tbsp clear honey
- 2 star anise
- Wilted spinach, to serve
- Honey & ginger sauce, to serve
- Creamy mashed potatoes, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 160˚C (325˚F/gas mark 3). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the pork belly and brown all over, turning regularly with tongs.
- Transfer to a casserole dish. Add the carrots and onion to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, until golden brown, stirring regularly to ensure they cook evenly.
- Tip the vegetables over the seared pork belly and stir in the beef stock, red wine, apple juice, garlic and herbs.
- Cover tightly with a lid or foil and bake for 3 hours, until the pork belly is meltingly tender. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 1 hour in the braising juices, then remove, cut the string and wrap twice in foil.
- Reserve the braising juices to use in the sauce. This is all best done 24 hours in advance. To reheat the pork belly, put a large frying pan on a medium heat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and the butter.
- Cut the pork into 12 even-sized slices and arrange in a single layer in the heated frying pan – you may have to do this in batches. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until just golden.
- Transfer to a place and keep warm. Add the honey, soy sauce and star anise to the pan and allow to bubble down for 1-2 minutes, until syrupy.
- Return the pieces of pork belly to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes basting regularly, until sticky and caramelised.
- To serve, place 2 slices of the caramelised pork belly on each warmed serving plate and add some wilted spinach.
- Spoon the honey and ginger sauce alongside the pork belly and serve the mashed potatoes in a separate warmed dish.