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This slow cooked pork dish is a wonderful winter warmer and is suitable for any occasion, from dinner party to weekday dinner.
- 850g pork belly
- 80g shallot (2) or onion (½)
- 100g carrot (2)
- 60g celery (1 stick)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 500ml cider
- 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- greaseproof paper
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
- Preheat the oven to 180°c.
- Peel the carrots and shallots and chop them with the celery into roughly 2cm pieces.
- Lightly crush each clove of garlic still in their skins.
- Remove the skin from the pork meat, roll up the pork and tie it with string.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, season the pork with salt & pepper and fry it until it is brown all over (Tip: use barbeque tongs to turn the meat over).
- Remove the pork from the pan, put in the carrot, celery and onion and fry them for 2 minutes.
- Put the vegetables into a pot large enough to hold the pork (the pot must have a lid) and put the pork on top of them. Then put in the herbs and pour in the cider and stock.
- Place a piece of greaseproof paper larger than the diameter of the pot on top of the liquid and put the lid on.
- Put the dish into the oven and cook it for 2 hours.
- Remove the dish from the oven, take the pork out of the dish, and pour the liquid through a sieve into another pan, discarding the vegetables.
- Put the pan over a high heat and boil the sauce until it has reduced by a quarter (about 5 minutes). If the sauce is too thin, thicken it with some beurre manié or any other commercial thickener.
- Cut the pork into thick slices and serve. We served it with a parsley mash potato and sautéed savoy cabbage. We garnished it with a piece of crackling made by roasting the skin in an oven at 250°c for 20 minutes before turning the oven down to 200° and roasting it for a further 1 hour.
- Braising is a similar process to stewing, the difference is that you are cooking a single, large piece of meat. With braising, the meat sits on top of the vegetables to prevent it sitting on the bottom of the pan, this ensures that the meat is surrounded by liquid and cooks evenly.
- Browning the meat first, ensures that the meat has a good colour at the end of cooking and also caramelises the natural sugars in the meat which enriches its flavour (known as "the Maillard reaction").
- Putting greaseproof paper on the surface of the liquid helps prevent evaporation from the pan and, if the level of the liquid fall below the top of the pork, it will also help to keep the meat moist.
- Traditionally, braised meat was served with the vegetables from the pot, however, after several hours of cooking, much of their flavour will have been extracted into the sauce, so freshly cooked vegetables are much nicer.