Mulled Cider Roasted Pork Belly

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Mulled cider roasted pork belly makes a great turkey alternative at Christmas. Tender, crispy & served with pear puree, this one’s hard to beat!

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mulled cider roasted pork belly

This pork belly ticks all the boxes! It’s insanely tender, has super crispy crackling & is slow cooked in mulled cider for extra flavour. What’s not to like!

Mulled cider roasted pork belly makes a perfect alternative to classic roast turkey at Christmas. Plus, it goes perfectly with all of our Christmas trimmings! From goose fat roast potatoes to cheesy brussel sprouts & pigs in blankets. Or if you’re after a different course altogether, we’ve got a wide range of festive recipes over in our Christmas section….

What You’ll Need

To make four generous portions…

  • Pork Belly (1.5kg)
    Ask your butcher for a 1.5kg boneless pork belly with the skin left unscored. If the loose bones are included with your pork, sit them under the belly when you slow cook it.
  • Cider (500ml)
    Use any cider for this! I used a pineapple Rattler, which is from Cornwall.
  • Mulled Cider Flavourings
    To flavour the cider, you’ll need a cinnamon stick, a star anise, black peppercorns, bay leaves & an orange.
  • Pears (5)
    Five conference pears makes enough puree for four portions of pork belly. If you’d prefer to make more, the puree recipe can be doubled.
  • Butter (50g)
    Adding some unsalted butter to our puree adds flavour & richness.
  • Caster Sugar (80g)
    Pears tend to be quite sweet so we only need to use a small amount of sugar in our puree.
  • Brandy/Calvados (1 tbsp)
    Used to deglaze the pan after cooking the pears in butter. Either brandy or calvados will work here.
  • Vanilla Paste (1 tsp)
    A small amount of good quality vanilla paste is used to flavour our pear puree. Adding this after cooking, adds more flavour.

How To Make Mulled Cider Roasted Pork Belly

The full, printable recipe card for this pork belly can be found at the bottom of this post!

Step 1 – Slow Cook The Pork Belly

Before starting this recipe, you’re pork belly should have had any bones removed & should have been left uncovered in the fridge, overnight. If you’re pork belly came with the bones included, you can sit the belly on top of them in the roasting tin, to cook.

First, take a large roasting tin & line the bottom with baking paper. Next, add in the pork belly (skin side up) & season the skin with table salt.

Pour 500ml of cider into the tin (don’t get any on the skin) then add in orange, a cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves & black peppercorns. Place a piece of baking paper on top of the pork (this stops the foil sticking to the skin) then cover the tin with foil.

Cook the pork in a 150°c/130°c fan (302°f/266°f) oven for 3-3½ hours, until the pork belly is tender then remove the foil & leave to cool for 30 minutes.

mulled cider pork belly

Step 2 – Pressing The Pork Belly

Next we’re going to be pressing the pork belly overnight, which gives it an even thickness all over. To do this, wrap the pork in a double layer of clingfilm then place into a baking tin. Place another tin (the same size) on top of the pork belly & weigh it down with something heavy (this should weigh at least a couple of kilos. Tins of tomatoes or bags of sugar work well).

Let the pork cool at room temperature until cold enough to go in the fridge then refrigerate overnight.

Step 3 – Roasting

Once cooked, the pork belly will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days & will need roasting before serving, to crisp up the skin. To do this, place the belly (skin side up) on a rack in a roasting tin then coat the skin with a tablespoon of veg oil. Cover the skin with Maldon sea salt then roast at 240°c/220°c fan (464°f/428°f) for 30-40 minutes, until the pork is hot & the skin is super crispy!

Ready to roast…

To Serve

Let pork rest for 10 minutes or so then cut into portions. This could be slices or chunks, it’s up to you!

Serve with a spoonful of pear puree & a generous amount of Christmas gravy.

How To Make Pear & Vanilla Sauce

This puree style sauce is super easy to make & comes together in less than 20 minutes!

To make, peel & core five conference pears then cut the flesh into chunks. Cook the pears in butter until nice & brown then deglaze the pan with brandy (or calvados) & stir in some caster sugar. Keep cooking until the pears have broken down then remove from the heat & stir in a teaspoon of vanilla paste.

Next, blitz the sauce with either a jug or stick blender then pass through a sieve, into a bowl. Leave to cool then serve!

What To Serve With Pork Belly

In this recipe, we’re serving our mulled cider roasted pork belly with a homemade gravy & a pear & vanilla sauce. This makes a fantastic alternative to turkey at Christmas & can be served with any of the side dishes from our Christmas trimmings section. We have recipes for classic sides like goose fat roast potatoes & Yorkshire puddings to cheesy brussel sprouts & sausage & bacon stuffing!

Cooking Pork Belly In An Aga

With all of my recipes, I include cooking instructions for conventional ovens, fan ovens & also Agas.

To slow cook the pork in an Aga, place the roasting tin on the bottom set of runners in the baking oven then place a cold plain shelf two runners above. To roast the pork belly, cook it in the roasting oven on the second from top set of runners for 30-40 minutes.

Equipment Used

Please note that these are affiliate links & I may make a small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. For more information, click here.

More Christmas Recipes To Try!

If you have enjoyed this mulled cider roasted pork belly recipe, it would mean a lot if you could leave a review & rating!

Mulled Cider Roasted Pork Belly

Mulled cider roasted pork belly makes a great turkey alternative at Christmas. Tender, crispy & served with pear puree, this one's hard to beat!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Chilling Time12 hours
Total Time16 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: English
Servings: 6 People
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Large Roasting Tin
  • 2 Baking Tins
  • Medium Saucepan
  • Jug/Stick Blender
  • Wire Rack For Roasting

Ingredients

Slow Cooked Pork Belly

  • 1.5 kg Boneless Pork Belly
  • ½ tsp Table Salt
  • 500 ml Cider
  • 1 Orange
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 6 Cloves
  • 1 Star Anise
  • ¼ tsp Black Peppercorns

To Roast

  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Maldon Salt

Pear & Vanilla Sauce

  • 4 Conference Pears
  • 1 Lemon, Juiced
  • 50 g Unsalted Butter
  • 80 g Caster Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Brandy/Calvados
  • A Pinch Of Maldon Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Paste

To Serve

  • 500 ml Christmas Gravy See Notes

Instructions

Slow Cooked Pork Belly

  • Dry the pork belly's skin with kitchen roll/paper then place onto a plate & leave in the fridge overnight, uncovered.
  • The next day, preheat an oven to 150°c/130°c fan (302°f/266°f).
  • Line the bottom of a large roasting tin with baking paper, set the pork belly on top, skin side up then sprinkle the ½ tsp of table salt all over the skin.
  • Next, pour the cider around the pork belly, making sure not to get any on the skin.
  • Cut the skin off the orange then add into the cider along with the bay leaves, cloves, star anise & peppercorns. Juice the orange & add a tbsp of juice into the cider as well.
  • Place a sheet of baking paper over the pork belly then cover the roasting tin with tin foil.
  • Cook for 3-3½ hours, until the pork is tender. If you insert a food probe or skewer into the meat, it will feel incredibly soft.
  • Take the pork out of the oven, remove the tin foil & top piece of baking paper then leave to cool for 20 minutes or so (it should be cool enough to handle but not completely cool).
  • Next, wrap the pork belly in a double layer of clingfilm then place into a baking tin. Place another tin on top then weigh it down with something heavy*.
    *Anything heavy will work (tins, bags of flour, etc.), as long as it weighs at least a couple of kilos.
  • Let the pork press at room temperature until cool enough to go in the fridge then refrigerate overnight (whilst still weighed down).

Pear & Vanilla Sauce

  • Peel & core the pears, cut into chunks then pour over the lemon juice & set aside.
  • Place the butter into a saucepan then set over a medium heat.
  • Leave to melt then add in the pears & cook until they start to colour, 3-4 minutes.
  • Add in the sugar, brandy/calvados & salt then lower the heat & cook until the pears are soft enough to puree, 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat & leave to cool slightly.
  • Stir in the vanilla paste then blitz the sauce in a jug blender or with a stick blender until smooth.
    Pass the puree through a sieve, into a bowl then leave to cool. Refrigerate until needed.

Roasting The Pork Belly

  • Preheat an oven to 240°c/220°c fan (464°f/428°f).
  • Take the pork belly out of the fridge then remove the weights & unwrap the clingfilm.
  • Place the pork into a roasting tin (skin side up), on a wire rack then coat the skin with 1 tbsp of veg oil. Sprinkle a generous amount of Maldon salt all over the skin then roast the pork in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the crackling is golden brown & crispy.
  • Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes, cut into thick slices then serve with the pear sauce.
    A sharp, serrated knife works best for slicing!

Notes

1. Cooking In An Aga – To slow cook the pork, place the roasting tin on the bottom set of runners in the baking oven then place a cold plain shelf two runners above. To roast the pork belly, cook it in the roasting oven on the second from top set of runners for 30-40 minutes.
2. Pork Belly – Ask your butcher for a 1.5kg boneless pork belly (unscored). If the removed bones have been included with your pork, sit the pork belly on top of them in the roasting tin, to slow cook.
3. Cider – Pretty much any cider will work for this recipe. I used pineapple Rattler from Cornwall.
4. Pressing – When pressing, make sure that the weight is pressing the pork belly flat.
5. Storage – Once cooked & pressed, the pork belly will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Once roasted, it should be eaten immediately. 
6. Gravy – This pork belly goes great with our Christmas gravy recipe. 500ml will easily serve four portions of pork… 

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