Braised Pork Belly with Apples

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. pork belly, skin on, washed and patted dry
  • 24 oz. hard apple cider, like Lambic or Doc’s (or a sweeter beer if you don’t have cider)
  • 2 T juniper berries (if you can’t find these, substitute 1 bay leaf and 1 T carraway seeds)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T mustard seeds
  • 1/8 c apple cider vinegar
  • 20-30 oz. chicken stock (stock is better than broth here)
  • 1/4 c Calvados or American Apple Brandy
  • 1 apple- gala or fuji

Instructions

  1. To make the cure: add hard cider, mustard seeds, juniper berries, salt and sugar to pot.  Heat to just boiling and salt and sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Score the skin of the pork belly with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern.  Add curing liquid and pork belly to large bag (and vacuum seal if you have a sealer).  Cure in refridgerator overnight, up to 24 hours, turning bag once in a while to redistribute juices.
  3. Remove pork belly from curing liquid, wash quickly to remove curing spices and pat dry.
  4. Sear pork belly in grapeseed or olive oil on all sides- high heat, about 2 minutes per side.  Put on plate to allow fat to drain some.
  5. Add stock, cider vinegar, Calvados, and pork belly to slow cooker.  Braising liquid should not reach the top of the pork belly but should come just under the top.  Add more or less stock depending on size of slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. (You can also braise in a dutch oven on the stove for 2-4 hours until tender).
  6. Remove pork belly, reserving 1/2 cup of braising liquid.  Pat dry again and then sear in grapeseed or olive oil again on all sides.
  7. For the apple- peel, core, and slice the apple. Add to small pot with reserved braising liquid and cook until tender.  Add ground clove and a little nutmeg if desired.

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