So many recipes to try, so little time to do it in... Life had just made a turn to crazy in the past few weeks and even though I was doing well with cooking and taking picture of my creations, posting has proven to be a challenge. I'm going to try and make up for a lost time and post some of the dishes I've made recently, starting with Slow Braised Honey and Cider Caramelized Pork Belly. So, pork belly is not necessarily on my diet plan these days, but I saw this recipe and couldn't resist. It's fairly hands off as the most of the time spent is braising in the oven. When selecting pork belly make sure there is as lean as you can possibly find it as the sauce will absorb most of the fat. If you feel that there is too much fat, refrigerate it overnight and remove the solidified fat from the top. The recipe calls for beer cider, not cider vinegar, so be sure that you use the right ingredient. I was able to find beer cider in liquor store fairly easily. The honey makes the sauce sweet on its own, but paired up with mashed potatoes balances the flavors very nicely.
Slow Braised Honey and Cider Caramelized Pork Belly
* 3.5 lb (Organic) pork belly, with rind removed but the fat on
* 2 large white onions, peeled, halved and sliced
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 qt Beer cider
* 5 oz Clear honey
* 1 Beef stock cube
* 1 Star anise
* 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
* 4 Sprigs fresh thyme
* Sea salt
1. In a frying pan, dry-fry the onions until caramelized.
2. Heat an ovenproof cast-iron pan. Season the pork belly and dry-fry on both sides, fat side first, until golden brown, ensuring that all sides of the meat are sealed. Remove from the pan and set aside to rest for 3-5 minutes. (Most of the fat should have been released during this stage.)
3. Preheat the oven to 350°c.
4. Lay the onions on the pork fat residue in the ovenproof pan and cover with the pork belly.
5. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the braising liquor. Pour over the pork belly and cook in the preheated oven for 2 hours.
6. Occasionally remove from the oven and baste the pork with the reducing sauce, this will help to build up a lustrous glaze when finished.
7. Remove from the oven, lift the meat out of the pan to rest for 10 minutes and set aside. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon.
8. Carefully reduce the remaining liquor to the consistency of a sauce.
9. Serve with olive oil mashed potatoes.