Pear or apple cider is a perfect match when braising a piece of succulent pork belly. Combined with the honey it makes a great balance against the richness of the meat.
1½ kilogram piece, boneless, skin on pork belly (we use Freedom Farms)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, thickly sliced
1 carrot, thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
2 tablespoons well flavoured honey
1 x 330 ml bottle pear or apple cider
1 cup chicken stock
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
lemon juice to taste
Preheat the oven to 150˚C.
Heat the oil in a wide ovenproof casserole or sauté pan. Season the pork and brown on both sides. The skin will only be lightly coloured and won’t be crisp. Transfer to a plate.
Add the onion, carrot, garlic, rosemary and fennel seeds to the pan, season and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the honey and let it bubble up then place the pork, skin side up, over the vegetables. Pour in the cider then add enough stock to come halfway up the side of the pork but not right up to the skin. Bring just to the boil then cover tightly and place in the oven. Cook gently for 2 hours until very tender and a skewer slips through the meat easily. Transfer the pork to a plate and cover loosely to keep warm.
Place the casserole on the stove top and bring to the boil. Taste and add the lemon juice a little at a time until it has a balanced sweet/sour flavour. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until reduced and syrupy. Strain into a jug, discarding the vegetables. Slice the pork into fingers or squares and serve with plenty of the sauce. We served ours accompanied with mashed potatoes mixed with grain mustard, cream and butter and hot cooked silverbeet.