Making slow cooked pork belly is easier than you might think, but it is still bound to impress your family and friends. Slow cooking transfers pork belly, a relatively cheap cut of meat, into a succulent and juicy dish with a crisp, crackled top for that extra crunch. Don't be put off by the long cooking time, the work you have to do is minimal and then you just let your oven take care of the rest. We've taken the classic combination of pork and apples and paired our pork belly with a smashing cider gravy. To make your own gravy all you need to do is combine a few simple ingredients and the result will be far better than anything you could buy in the shops.
- 1.75kg boneless pork belly, scored
- 2tsp fennel seeds, finely crushed
- 1tsp peppercorns, crushed
- 1 onion, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled and bashed
- 1tbsp olive oil
- ½tsp flaked sea salt
- 500ml chicken stock
- 250ml cider
- 1tbsp plain flour
The day before, sit the pork, skin-side up, on a roasting rack in the sink. Slowly pour a boiled kettle of water over the skin – do this for a couple of mins. Repeat, then pat dry.
Turn the pork over and rub with the crushed fennel seeds and peppercorns. Put on a plate, skin-side up, uncovered, in the bottom of the fridge overnight.
Heat the oven to 220C. Put the onion and garlic in a roasting tin, add the pork, skin-side up, and rub with oil and sea salt. Pour in boiling water up to 1cm and top it up as the meat cooks. Roast for 30 mins, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C.
Add the stock and cider. Cook for 1 hour 15 mins. Increase the oven temperature to 220C and cook for 30 mins, until the crackling is crisp.
Leave the pork to rest for 10 mins. Strain the cooking juices through a sieve into a jug, squashing any onion and garlic through. Pour into a gravy separator and pour off as much pork fat as possible.
Heat the stock in a pan until simmering. Mix the flour and 1tbsp pork fat and whisk into the stock. Simmer for 5 mins, until thickened. Season to taste.