Roast spiced belly pork with apples ginger and soy

The flavours in this dish are inspired by Filipino pork adobo*.The Filipino adobo is a cooking process or technique where meat, seafood or indigenous vegetables are braised in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar, along with aromatics such as garlic, onions, Szechuan peppercorns,spices,curry powder and bay leaves.
As many and as diverse are the islands and dialects in the Philippines as are the many ways adobo is prepared.I opted to use pork belly in my adobo as I like its melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, but you could easily substitute pork shoulder which, although a leaner cut, has enough ribbons of fat to bring equally delicious results.
I used pineapple juice, apple vinegar and whole apples to cut through the richness.
Some might prefer this with more sauce, while others would prefer it simmered dry. Others like it slightly tangy, while some prefer it on the salty side. This version is how I like mine, with beautifully seared pork, a rich and thick sauce to spoon over the meat, and enough grease to warrant a visit to a cardiologist.

Roast spiced belly pork with apples ginger and soy
Prep 15 min
Cook 2 hr 30 min
Serves 4

1 whole pork belly joint (800-900g), boneless
Flaked sea salt
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
12 garlic cloves, peeled
40g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
tsp mild curry powder

tsp ground cumin
3 bay leaves
90ml soy sauce
250ml chicken stock
250ml unsweetened pineapple juice
70ml apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp szechuan peppercorns, crushed
3 medium Pink Lady apples (400g), cored and cut into quarters
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Heat the oven to 185C (165C fan)/365F/gas 4½. Use a small, sharp knife to score the skin of the pork in a cross-hatch pattern spaced roughly 1½cm apart, then rub a teaspoon of flaked salt into the skin, push it down into the slashes.
Put the oil in a large ovenproof saute pan on a medium-high heat, then fry the onion, stirring, for three minutes, just to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, star anise and bay leaves, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly coloured – another three minutes. Add the soy, stock, apple juice, vinegar, sugar and black peppercorns, and bring to a simmer.
Take off the heat and lay in the pork, skin side up, taking care not to get the skin wet (it should not at any stage be submerged in liquid). Transfer to the oven, roast for 90 minutes, then remove and arrange the apples around the pork, stirring gently to coat them in the sauce and again taking care not to get any liquid on the skin. Return to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the apples have softened but still retain their shape, and the pork is deeply golden.
Gently lift the pork on to a board, leave to rest for 10-15 minutes, then cut into 1½cm-thick slices. To serve, transfer the contents of the saute pan to a serving dish with a lip, lay the pork slices on top and sprinkle with the spring onions.

Adobo*Adobo or Adobar is the immersion of raw food in a stock composed variously of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic, and vinegar to preserve and enhance its flavor. The Portuguese variant is known as Carne de vinha d'alhos. The practice is native to Iberia, namely Spanish cuisine and Portuguese cuisine.


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