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Author Notes: This recipe starts with a long brine in apple cider and spices, to layer flavor early in the process. I then layer in more apple flavor in the braising liquid by adding apple brandy and cider vinegar. I specify American apple brandy because it's fruitier than Calvados, which tends to be more nuanced and subtle. —adashofbitters
- 1 3/4 - 2 pounds pork belly
- 22 ounces hard apple cider
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons juniper berries, freshly ground
- 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil, separated
- 4 cups chicken or pork stock
- 1/4 cup American apple brandy (for example, Laird's)
- 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
- 4 cups shredded cabbage
- 2 cups sliced apples
- If pork belly still has skin on one side, score through skin in a diamond pattern, to allow brine to penetrate into meat.
- Combine apple cider, salt, sugar, mustard seed, and juniper berries in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer to dissolve salt and sugar, and remove from heat.
- Place brine and pork belly into a plastic bag. Store in refrigerator for 8-24 hours. Turn the bag over two or three times to redistribute brine.
- Remove belly from brine, rinse off any spices that cling to it, and dry it well with a paper towel.
- Heat 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil in a skillet over high heat. Add belly and sear on all sides.
- Allow belly to cool, then add it to a slow cooker. Divide belly into two or more portions, if necessary, to fit. Add stock, apple brandy, and apple-cider vinegar. Liquid should not cover belly, so use less stock if necessary.
- Cook on low heat for 6 or more hours, or until internal temperature of pork reaches 160° F.
- Remove pork from braising liquid. Cut into serving-sized portions. Heat remaining grapeseed oil over high heat and sear belly pieces on all sides.
- Place cabbage and apples in a saucepan. Ladle enough pork braising liquid over cabbage and apples to cover. Braise until just soft.
- Serve pork over braised apples and cabbage.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Pork with Cider
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