Pigs in the orchard – Perfect Roast Pork

Pork in CiderThey say that keeping pigs in the orchard is good both for pig and orchard. The pigs get to eat any fallen fruit while keeping the soil in good condition and keeping pests at bay. One side benefit of this practice is that the pork meat from the orchard kept pig takes on a subtle apple flavour (or so they say). 

Not having either a pig or an orchard, I decided to infuse some pork belly with a nice apple flavour. Here’s how I produced Twice Cooked Cider Pork with Apple, Onion and Garlic. To cook this you will need:

  • A 1.5 kilo (3 lb) pork belly
  • 500 ml or a pint of good dry cider
  • 2 cooking apples
  • 2 onions
  • a bulb of garlic
  • Sweet potatoes to serve

By the way, you need to start this a day and a half before you intend to eat.

Pork in Cider

Gratuitous raw meat and large bottle of drink shot. I was tempted to grill the pork and drink the cider.

The first thing you need to do is to have a bit of blowtorch fun. I suspect that one does not HAVE to do this but it made sense to me. I got my small blowtorch (the Creme Brulée one not the paint remover one) and burnt the hairs off the skin.

Pork in cider

I suppose one could just shave the thing, given that we are going to pour a kettle of boiling water over it later.

Next, I poured a kettle of boiling water over the skin. This seizes the skin and generally tightens things up.

Pork in Cider

I have to admit, it does not look very appetising at this stage.

I then cut through the skin and fat of the pork with a sharp (very sharp) knife.

Pork in Cider

Using a very sharp knife makes this easy. Using a blunt one makes one feel like a pathologist working on a former politician.

Next I placed it in a roasting dish and poured a pint of cider over it. I added a few Star Anise  to add some additional flavour.

Pork in Cider

I left it soaking in this for a day and a half. Plenty of time to absorb the apple flavour of the cider.

At this stage, I brought it to the boil on the hob and cooked the pork in the cider for half an hour, turning it occasionally. Actually, I only turned it once as I nearly ruined what is left of my manhood by splashing hot cider on my (very manly) apron. Next, I dried it and rubbed it all over with coarse salt and black pepper (the pork).

Pork in Cider

Rubbed all over with salt and pepper. It really does not look too nice a this stage either.

The next shot has very little to do with the post. It is a little bit of last-minute innovation. It features two microwave racks put together to act as a roasting tray over my Le Creuset oven dish. It worked really well.

Pork in Cider

Necessity is the mother of invention. Perfect pork holders.

Into the oven with it. First at a very high (possibly too high by the colour of the end result) oven for 20 minutes. Then I turned it down to a more manageable 160 degrees C for two hours. With half an hour to go, I removed the soon to be patented wire racks and placed the meat on two halved cooking apples and two halved Spanish onions.

Pork in Cider

The last half hour of cooking completed resting on apples and onions with a few cloves of garlic thrown in for fun.

This yields beautiful flavoursome meat that melts in the mouth. It was so well cooked, it was difficult to carve without it falling apart.

Pork in Cider

The crispy skin hid the fall-apart meat.

Aromas of apple, pork, garlic and onion were pressuring me to eat rather than take pictures. The cooking apples had disintegrated and I was able to spoon them onto the  plates along with the onion and garlic cloves. A day and a half in the prep but worth the wait.

Pork in cider

Roasted pork does not get much tastier than this. The apples absorbed a lot of the pork fat and flavour.

I knocked back a couple of glasses of cider with this delicious meal. It seemed like the right thing to do. If you’re lucky enough to have your own pigs in your orchard, you won’t need to do all this. If not, it’s worth the effort.

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Latest comments
  • That looks like a lovely piece of pork! I can’t help thinking that you’d get very happy pigs if they lived in the orchard 😉

    • Happy as a pig in…. an orchard, perhaps?

      • I imagine that’s the way they see it 😉

  • I could eat that right now! Mmmmm, so delicious and my favourite cut of meat!

    • Slow cooked it is very tasty indeed. A day and a a half is pushing it though.

      • Overnight – then reheat when required? I might just have to cook this at the weekend!

  • Gorgeous roast.

    • Thanks Rosemary. The garlic and apple were excellent though both were laden with fat.

  • Looks fab. We have a recipe for Asian pork belly cooked low and slow… love it.

    • I do a version with soy and 5 spice called Diamond Cut Belly of Pork. It is delicious. I would eat it more often but for the fat content. Mmmm fat content….

  • Very nicely done, Conor. Pork belly is such a wonderful choice for a roast. I like the twice cooked techniques and love the color you got on the skin. Pork and apples go so well together. I’m sure this was delicious!

    • It fell apart and was melt in the mouth. The apple and garlic helped make me a hero on the day.

  • Fantastic Conor! And nicely timed, just before lunch. I find your posts the perfect way to work up a good appetite.

    • Thanks Brian. I now have to leave the office and get a sandwich…

  • This looks amazing Conor! Two questions: What is a hob? And, is the flavor of the star anise similar to just anise?

    • Hi Barb, the hob is the cooker top (I use gas). Yes. The star anise is the seeds in their pod.

  • Beautiful cut!

    • Cheap and with sauce. A little like myself.

  • Absolutely beautiful — in every stage!

    • Thanks Adam. It was worth the day and a half prep.

  • *Sniggers* at the manhood thing.
    Very nice pictures. Winner recipe. I want now.

    • Thanks Sanjiv. I would have been happier with a slightly less blackened end result but hard to do after soaking it in the cider. Very tasty if I say so myself.

  • Great recipe, Conor! I don’t think I’ve ever had pork with apple before, so that’s something to try. Can you believe I never prepared pork belly before I started blogging? I was already hungry before I started reading this, so I’m really glad I’m almost home…

    • Thanks Stefan. I plan to try it with apple juice instead of the cider at some stage. It may be more appley, if there is such a word. You have to marry them up. Cooking apples and pork are an awesome combination. Add in some ginger and garlic too.

      • Thanks for the idea, I think apple juice will work better as I was thinking about doing the first cook sous-vide (not really surprising, is it…). Ginger, garlic, and perhaps sage as well?

        • Sage would (will) be excellent. No sous-vide surprise here. 🙂

  • By rights that meat should be dry as a bone (my spare ribs were like dried out leather even though i pretended they weren’t) – so it must be soaking it for a day and a half that does the trick? As for the colour it looks just fine!

    • I reckon it’s the soaking and the incredible skill of the chef that did it. Keeping the joint in one piece will be a big help as the layers of fat render down and help keep things moist. They also make the apple sauce awesome but not very slimline. Very open of you to admit to a dry ribs fail.

      • Those suckers were drier than a Nun’s knickers.

        • I will never eat a rib cooked by you. In fact, I may never eat a rib again…

  • I cooked a pork belly on the BBQ last summer and served it as an appetizer. You should have seen the people tearing into it! Can’t beat pork 🙂

    • You will have to invite me over. I could do with some BBQ pork right now!

      • Me too for that matter! I am beginning the crazy wind-up for the American Thanksgiving which is next Thursday. Going to have a house full of people to cook for starting tomorrow. I will need some serious cocktails come the 25th when it is all done with.

  • Conor, you might be interested in the orchard pork that Llewellyns out in Rush are doing. I just dropped them an email and they said they’d let me know when it’s ready; afaik, the pigs will be slaughtered some time in the next few weeks so you’d want to get your skates on.


    • Brilliant. Thanks for that Stef. I have a brother living out that way and he might collect for me too!

      • Yeah, hope you get some! Can’t wait to cook with it.

  • What a gorgeous pork roast. Something like this is totally worth the wait. That shot of the roast sitting above the apples and onions — I’ll be dreaming about that all day.

    • It does look pretty tasty but it still had a while to go to get perfect!

  • If only we could all have pigs and orchards…

    • Too true. I enquired today with the genuine orchard pigs people mentioned above in Stfano’s comment. Hopefully, I can get some to try.

  • Your first photo is a knock out! What a great dinner you had! Although I would be just as happy with that entire skin all to myself if allowed.

    • Too late! It was delicious, crispy, porky and appley (if there are such words).

  • We don’t have an orchard (the deer at all the young trees we planted years ago), but we are thinking of getting some pigs. Goodness, I wish I was having this for dinner!

    • It was pretty good. I am cooking a pork steak stuffed with mango, chili and parsley this evening. It is a total leap of faith. I will post about it later. Hopefully it works too.

  • my mouth watered looking at these pictures… looks amazing!

    • Hi Danni, Try it. It’s easy, if a little lengthy in prep.

  • Personally, I use the take the paint off/ solder the pipes blow torch. The kitchen one makes me frustrated and angry with it’s lack of umph.
    I love how the glazed crispy skin holds the meat together.
    We do have an orchard and I’ve considered looking for piglets. Now I’m feeling a little more motivated.

    • My kind of woman. I’ll bet you make a mean creme brulée. My ‘other blowtorch’ is an electric one. No use at all.

  • Love a gratuitous meat shot and all those wonderful seasonings! Pork belly is a favourite in these here parts and truly yours look delicious. Cider and apples, match made in heaven…divine!

    • Thanks Alice, it was pretty good, if you will pardon the self praise.

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