Simon King, chef/proprietor at restaurant 1861, near Abergavenny, shares his recipe for pork belly braised in cider.

NOW that the days are so much shorter, and the changing of the clocks not far away, our thoughts turn to warming food. Roast potatoes, roast meats, stews and comforting puddings all hit the spot.

I am a big fan of slow cooking meat as you can buy a cheaper cut, and turn it into something delicious by allowing it to cook slowly in wine or cider.

Making the most of the less pricey pieces of meat is hugely important if you are feeding a family or a large crowd of friends.

Lamb shanks, for example, turn into a sweet and succulent dish if they are cooked long and low for 3-4 hours. They go well with wine or port, and a few foraged elderberries.

Alternatively, opt for something lighter, by cooking them with white wine and citrus fruits. Orange and lamb make a very delicious combo, as the tartness of citrus is the perfect foil for the fattiness of lamb. The trick with this kind of cooking is to take your time. Turn up the heat to hurry things along, and you run the risk of the meat being tough, when the whole point is that it should be as soft as butter.

Pork belly is another delicious dish when treated right. Cider and pork is a great traditional combination - lob in some sage, or an apple, and you can’t go wrong I prefer to use a sweet cider, as the softer flavour goes well with belly pork, but dry cider works fine too, if that’s what you have in the house.

With most recipes you can mix and match to suit your store cupboard – just don’t forget long and slow!


Pork belly braised in cider

2lb piece of boneless pork belly

1 pint sweet cider

1 pint water

Small bunch of fresh sage

10 whole black peppercorns


1pt double cream


Place the pork belly in a deep baking tray with the cider, water, sage, a pinch of salt and the peppercorns. Cover with a lid and place in a pre heated oven at 140 degrees or gas mark 3 for 3 to 4 hours or until tender. Allow to cool.

Place a tray and a heavy weight on the pork and place over night in the fridge. The next day remove the pork from the braising juices, keep half of the juice to reheat the pork, with the remainder bring to the boil and reduce by half, add the double cream, reboil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until a nice sauce consistency is achieved, season to taste and strain.

Meanwhile, remove the skin from the pork along with any excess fat, cut into portions and reheat in the braising juices. Serve with mashed potato and seasonal vegetables, finish with the cream sauce.