Slow Cooker Pork Belly with Braised Apples and Cabbage

November 20, 2009

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

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 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
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. If pork belly still has skin on one side, score through skin in a diamond pattern, to allow brine to penetrate into meat.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove belly from brine, rinse off any spices that cling to it, and dry it well with a paper towel.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil in a skillet over high heat. Add belly and sear on all sides.
  6. 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.
  7. Cook on low heat for 6 or more hours, or until internal temperature of pork reaches 160° F.
  8. Remove pork from braising liquid. Cut into serving-sized portions. Heat remaining grapeseed oil over high heat and sear belly pieces on all sides.
  9. Place cabbage and apples in a saucepan. Ladle enough pork braising liquid over cabbage and apples to cover. Braise until just soft.
  10. Serve pork over braised apples and cabbage.

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