The first time I ever had pork belly was at the Ad Lib, a restaurant in Glasgow back in September. To say that I was dumbfounded by how good it tasted would be an understatement. It seems to be relatively tricky to find in the States – at least in non-specialty stores in my area, and I’d been unable to shake it from the back of my mind since I came home. As good fortune would have it on a recent trip to Marks & Spencer (a somewhat posh department / food store here), two lovely pork bellies sat on the 1/2 price meat shelf just waiting for me to scoop them up. After some quick research on how to best prepare them, I set out on my pork belly adventure. I made homemade applesauce while the pork was cooking. Store-bought applesauce will probably be too watery for this application unless you try to reduce it a bit on the stove. The homemade sauce is quite simple to prepare and just takes a bit of time. This is a great recipe for making on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
For the pork belly…
- 1.5 lb (0.7 kg) pork belly
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp dried sage
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp honey
For the applesauce…
- 4 apples (I used Pink Lady but any will do)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tbsp butter
- Score the fat on the top of the pork belly lengthwise. Sprinkle liberally with salt, rub into the score marks and place back in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 275F (140C). Line a baking baking dish or tray with foil.
- Smash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife. Place the pork belly onto the baking dish with the fat facing down. Spread the smashed garlic cloves onto the meat. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and the dried sage. Turn the pork belly over so the fat is facing up. Add about 1/2″ of water to the pan.
- Bake for 2.5 hours at this temperature. Meanwhile, prepare the applesauce by peeling and dicing the apples. Put the apples and cinnamon in a medium sized pot. Add about 1/4 cup of water. Cover with a lid (but crack it so that steam can escape) and cook on low for about 45 minutes or until the apples are very soft – exactly how long depends on the type of apples used. At the end, add the lemon juice and butter and mash the apples to the desired consistency. I like mine a bit chunky.
- After the pork has been in the oven for 2.5 hours, remove it from the oven and increase the temperature to 425F (220C). Mix about 1/3 cup of the applesauce with 1 tbsp honey and spread over the top of the pork. Return to the oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown.
- I served mine with extra applesauce and kale chips. So good!