Wondering what you can do with pork belly? Well here is a great pork belly recipe idea! Turn it in to these delicious Apple Cider Roasted Pork Belly Sandwiches, served on crusty buns and topped with fresh apple and arugula dressed in a mustard and apple cider vinaigrette. And let me tell you, it’s all kinds of delicious.
This apple cider roasted pork belly cooks up wonderfully flavourful as it roasts bathed in apple cider. The top is left exposed to create a cap of crisp crackling. The pork belly is then sliced up, drizzled in a bit of the reduced cooking juices and served on a bun topped with an apple and arugula salad. The finishing touch is a sprinkling of chopped, crispy crackling.
You can make the pork belly ahead and refrigerate it, covered well, so it doesn’t dry out. Simply slice and dress your sandwich when you’re ready to eat. No need to re-heat the pork belly, although you can if you like. It is probably nicer at closer to room temperature, than cold, so taking it out of the refrigerate for 20 minutes before eating is a good idea.
Cook’s Notes: Apple Cider Roasted Pork Belly Sandwiches
A cast iron skillet is the perfect cooking pan for this dish, as it’s shallow, but deep enough to hold the cider. It will also go beautifully from oven to stove-top. Alternately, you can use two pans, one for the oven and one for the stove-top. The only tip I would have is to use a pan that is not too much bigger than the pork belly. If your pan is too big, you will have to use a lot of cider to fill it up.
I used crusty ciabatta rolls here, but a softer roll is also nice, as the juices soak in to it in a lovely way. Any roll that you enjoy eating is just fine. You can enjoy plain or toasted.
When it comes to condiments, you can dress your rolls with just a smear of butter. Mustard or mayo are always good choices. If you’re adventurous and you have some on hand, apple butter would be delicious.
Apple Cider Roasted Pork Belly Sandwiches
- 2 lb. piece of pork belly
- 4 cups apple cider
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 medium apple peeled, cored and thinly sliced
Apple Arugula Topping:
- 1/2 medium green apple unpeeled, cored and sliced
- 3 handfuls arugula
- 3 Tbsp. oil olive or vegetable
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. grainy or regular Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 4 Crusty rolls or buns
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Prepare the pork belly: Pat pork belly dry. With a sharp knife, score the top skin diagonally by cutting lines in one direction about 3/4 inch apart, then cutting lines in the opposite direction in the same manner, to make a diamond pattern all across the top skin. Be sure you don't cut too far down. You only want to score the skin and fat layer and not the meat underneath. Season top with salt and pepper and place in a greased skillet or oven-safe baking dish, skin side up.
Pour enough apple cider in the pan so that it rises up the pork belly just to the point where the fat layer begins (the fat layer directly under the top skin.
Place in preheated oven and cook for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 F. Remove pork belly to a cutting board. Place skillet with juices on the stove-top. (*Note: there is a lot of fat in the drippings. If you like you can spoon some of it off and discard, leaving just a bit and the syrupy stuff at the bottom. If it's really syrupy, you can loosen with a splash of apple cider, as well.). Add the thinly sliced, peeled apples and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.
Using a sharp knife, remove most of the top fat/crackling layer from the pork belly. Cover remaining pork loosely with tin foil to keep warm. Place the fat/crackling layer on a foil lined baking sheet and place in 450 F. oven until the top is golden, blistered and crispy. Remove to a cutting board and once cooled a bit, chop in to small pieces.
Prepare the salad topping by combining the arugula and apple in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil, apple cider vinegar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over apple and arugula to moisten. Set aside.
To serve: Slice the meat portion of the pork belly in to thin slices and drizzle with a bit of the pan sauce. Place 3 or 4 slices of pork belly on prepared rolls*. Top with arugula apple salad. Top salad with a sprinkling of the chopped crackling.
*You can toast the rolls or not. Butter if you like or maybe try a spread of apple butter, mustard or mayo. As you like.