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Author Notes: I've been wanting to take on pork belly, the kind bud of pork, for some time, so when the pork and apple cider theme came up it seemed like a perfect opportunity. Since this is my first pork belly I looked around for inspiration. I picked up the idea for adding spices from Zen Can Cook (http://www.zencancook.com/2009/10/pork-belly-buns/); I used Sichuan peppercorns and black cardamom to add a smoky flavor. But since crisp, roasted pork fat is so righteous I used Jamie Oliver's technique (http://www.foodielifestyle.com/2009/09/07/jamie-olivers-pork-belly-recipe/). I swapped in fennel fronds in place of celery and carrot to carry through the anise flavor. - Adriana
Spiced Pork Belly
- 4 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 tablespoon sichuan peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 pounds pork belly
- 1 bunch fennel fronds removed from bulb
- 1 red onions, halved
- 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves
- The day before: toast spices (only 1 of the cinnamon sticks) together in cast iron pan just until they start smoking.
- Grind all spices in spice grinder (or in a coffee grinder; clean afterward by grinding 1/4 cup rice).
- Combine spices with 1 tablespoon of the salt and then rub over all sides of pork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
- The next day: preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse spices from pork.
- Pierce fat all over (avoid piercing the flesh below) and rub salt into incisions. Turn over and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast fat-side down in a large pan for about 30 minutes, until much of the fat has melted and skin on top is crackling. Then turn down oven to 350 degrees and roast for another hour.
- Remove from oven and move pork to a plate. Stir vegetables in melted pork fat, add remaining three cinnamon sticks, and place pork on top of vegetables. Baste with fat and roast another hour.
Apple Cider Glaze
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1/3 cup vermouth
- Remove pan from oven and gently move pork to a plate. Cover with foil and set aside.
- Drain fat from pan and place over stove burner. Discard just the fennel fronds and the cinnamon sticks.
- Put roasting pan with remaining vegetables on the burner. Pour liquids and simmer, scraping the bottom to pick up the bits. Stir constantly as sauce thickens for about 45 minutes.
- Strain the sauce. Smoosh as much of the juices out of the vegetables as you can by pressing them against a mesh strainer. Taste before salting.
- Shred and serve with mashed root vegetables or brown rice. You can also use some of the melted pork fat to cook some greens as a side.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Pork with Cider