1 tsp cumin seeds
4 star anise
1 tsp fennel seeds
11/2 tbsp salt
1.5kg deboned thick pork belly, skin on
12 eschalots, peeled
12 garlic cloves
6 golden delicious or granny smith apples
1/3 cup (75g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup (60ml) cider vinegar
lemon cheeks, to serve
1 Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Coarsely grind cumin, 3 star anise, fennel seeds and salt with a mortar and pestle. Score skin of pork and rub in ground spice mixture. If possible, do this several hours beforehand and leave in fridge to help draw out excess moisture and produce a really crisp crackling.
2 Place pork, skin side down, in a large heavy-based roasting pan. Roast for 11/2 hrs, until almost cooked through. Add eschalots and garlic, and turn pork skin side up. Increase heat to 240C or 220C fan and roast, basting regularly with pan juices, for another 30 mins, until skin is crisp. Remove from oven and rest in a warm place for 10 mins.
3 While pork is cooking, peel apples and, leaving them whole, remove cores and slice off tops and bases. Heat a medium frying pan on medium and add butter. Place apples into pan, flat sides down, and caramelise gently for 2-3 mins each side, until light golden. Sprinkle with brown sugar, and scatter over cinnamon, cloves and remaining star anise. Allow to bubble and melt for 1 min, and add vinegar, then sultanas. Cook for another 5 mins, until apples are tender and sauce is syrupy.
4 Thickly slice pork and serve with apples, eschalots, garlic and lemon cheeks..
• ork belly is at its melting best when cooked slow. Try reducing the initial oven temperature to 160C or 140C fan and cook for an extra 40 minutes.
• Make gravy while the pork is resting. Heat pan on medium. Add 1/2 cup white wine, scraping sediment from base. Simmer until reduced by two-thirds. Crush eschalot a little and pour in a cup of good chicken stock. Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes, until reduced by half. Add fresh thyme.