They 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.
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.
Next, I poured a kettle of boiling water over the skin. This seizes the skin and generally tightens things up.
I then cut through the skin and fat of the pork with a sharp (very sharp) knife.
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.
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).
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.
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.
This yields beautiful flavoursome meat that melts in the mouth. It was so well cooked, it was difficult to carve without it falling apart.
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.
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.