There’s been just enough chill in the air in the evenings to encourage me to get the slow cooker out. Other than my beloved Thermomix, the slow cooker is hands down the one appliance I can’t do without in the colder months. I love throwing a few things together in the morning and returning later in the afternoon to find a perfectly cooked casserole or Osso Bucco.
I’m also a fan of cooking pork belly in the slow cooker. Sure, there’s nothing like a crispy, roasted bit of belly but if need dinner pronto, then I can’t go past some Japanese simmered pork (Buta No Kakuni) to serve up with udon noodles. Buta No Kakuni is normally cooked on the stovetop but I get a fantastic result using the slow cooker too. Best of all, I don’t have to be around :)
I adore Japanese flavours but I’d always been interested in trying a different pork belly recipe with the slow cooker. One such recipe involved apple cider and since I had a bottle of Rekorderlig’s Orange-Ginger cider on hand, I gave it a try last week.
I’ve used cider before in cooking meat, most notably for ribs marinade and as an ingredient, cider is pretty ideal for its meat tenderising property, as well as for adding flavour and the right amount of sweetness. Rekorderlig has some fairly sweet ciders in its range but Orange-Ginger is just right, both for cooking meat and enjoying with a meal (hint: make sure you have two bottles on hand!).
I prepared some pieces of pork belly/spare ribs (about 5 or 6 pieces will serve two people easily) by browning them in the pan with a sliced onion and two crushed garlic gloves. I removed the pork belly and rinsed them under hot water to remove any excess fat as per Japanese simmered pork. It’s not necessary to do this but pork belly is pretty fatty so it’s not a bad idea either.
Next, I placed the pork belly into my slow cooker and poured 1/2 cup of chicken stock and enough cider to cover over the meat. I added the browned onion and garlic, salt and pepper and let the magic begin. I let the pork belly cook on the Low setting for about 6 hours (adding some slices of apple after 5 hours) and turned the slow cooker off.
Once I was ready to serve, I made up some cider glaze by reducing 1/3 cup of cider with 2 tablespoons of sugar. You can add some fresh ginger and a piece of of orange rind while cooking down if you like the extra zing but as hubby isn’t a huge ginger fan, the subtle flavour imparted by the Orange-Ginger cider was enough. I then placed the pork belly on an oven tray, brushing the glaze over it and put the meat under a hot grill until nice browned and sizzling.
Serve with some mash or steamed greens, and a glass of Orange-Ginger cider :)
Are you in Perth next weekend, love food and love Rekorderlig? I have a double pass to Taste of Perth and tickets to the Rekorderlig Cider Bar. Just visit my Facebook page and like the relevant post. I will be picking a winner on April 30, before 1pm AWST.