A luxurious dinner for two, with rich, caramelised pork belly slices, creamy fondant potatoes and both sweet, smooth and tart and crunchy apple. You can absolutely use any store-bought apple sauce you’ve got in the fridge here but making your own batch to have on hand couldn’t be simpler – or more delicious. The pork is best marinated overnight, but a couple of hours will work at a push too.
300g pork belly strips
2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
50g cranberry sauce
25ml apple cider vinegar
½ tablespoon brown sugar
1 sprig sage, leaves picked
½ teaspoon coriander and fennel seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the apple sauce:
3 Bramley apples
Pinch of cinnamon
Juice of ½ a lemon
For the fondant potatoes:
2 large potatoes (a firm, creamy variety like Desiree would work well)
1 tablespoon olive oil
40g unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
150ml vegetable stock
1 red, seasonal apple
Juice of ½ a lemon
In a dry pan, toast the coriander and fennel seeds over a medium heat for a few minutes. When they start to smell wonderful, tip them out into a mortar and pestle and lightly crush. Once cool, add to a bowl with the pork belly strips, garlic infused olive oil, cranberry sauce, sugar, sage leaves and salt and pepper. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.
To make the apple sauce, peel, core and finely slice the apples. Add them to a large pan with the sugar and butter. Cook over a medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until the apples are meltingly soft. Stir through the cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon to taste.
When you’re ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan, gas mark 4. Pour the marinade into a small oven dish and nestle the pork belly above it. Cook for 25 minutes, then turn the slices over, baste with their juices and cook for another 20 minutes, or until the pork is dark golden and piping hot throughout. Because of the sugar in the marinade, it can burn easily – so keep an eye on the pork and baste often.
While the pork is cooking, make the fondant potatoes. Peel the potatoes and cut the ends off of each, so that you’re left with two thick round chunks of potato that lie flat on both sides. Add the oil and butter to a frying pan over a medium-low heat and when melted, add the potatoes. Lightly brown the potatoes on both sides, then add the bay leaf and pour in the stock. Make a cartouche by cutting a piece of parchment paper into a circle and screwing it up into a ball. Unscrew it, run it under the tap to dampen and place over the potatoes. Simmer the potatoes for 30-35 minutes, or until tender.
To serve, core the red apple and chop into matchsticks. Squeeze over the lemon juice and stir to combine. Divide the pork belly between two plates and add the fondant potatoes, drizzling over any remaining marinade or buttery stock. Add a spoonful of apple sauce and the chopped apple.