Crispy Pork Belly with Braised Apples and Cabbage
In this recipe, inspired by Michael Dietsch’s recipe on Food52, the brightness of hard cider cuts through the decadent fattiness of braised pork belly. Be sure to choose a piece of belly that’s got a good mix of fat and meat. For a leaner option, you may substitute boneless pork shoulder for the belly.
Recipes by Mary Reilly | Photos by Dominic Perri
The most traditional way to enjoy hard cider is in a glass, of course. But it can also be a key ingredient in your fall menus.
When selecting ciders for cooking, choose one that you’d enjoy drinking. If you have any hard cider that’s gone flat, it’s a perfect candidate for one of these dishes.
If you’d prefer, you can use sweet cider (nonalcoholic) in place of all or some of the hard cider called for, just note that since it’s sweeter, you will need a little less of it.
Yields 4 servings.
2 pounds pork belly, skin off
16 ounces hard cider
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3-inch sprig fresh rosemary
4 cloves peeled garlic
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into thin slices
2 cups chicken stock (use pork stock if you have it)
4 cups (about 1 pound) shredded cabbage
2 cups sliced apples (2 to 3 apples)
½ cup chopped parsley
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Cut belly into 4 equal pieces.
Put the pork, cider, salt, sugar, mustard, rosemary, garlic, and onion into a slow-cooker on the low setting. Pour the stock in until it’s nearly, but not, covering the meat. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the meat is tender and melting. (If you don’t have a slow cooker, place the ingredients in a Dutch oven or other oven-safe vessel. Roast, covered, at 275℉ until meat is tender and melting, 4 to 6 hours.)
Carefully remove meat from the cooker and lay on a double thickness of paper towels. Gently dry the meat with the towels. Spoon as much fat as you can off the braising liquid.
Heat a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lay the pieces of belly, fat side down, into the skillet. Let the belly rest in the pan over until the bottom is crisp and golden. It will release from the pan easily when it crisps up. Carefully remove the belly from the pan and keep warm. (You can skip this step if you are cooking pork shoulder.)
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of rendered fat from the skillet and add the cabbage, apples, and 2 to 3 cups of braising liquid to the pan. Cook over the medium-heat high until the cabbage is tender. Taste the liquid and add salt and pepper if desired. Stir in parsley. Place the cabbage and apple mixture onto 4 serving plates. Top each plate with a piece of belly. Spoon a little braising liquid into each plate.