Pork Belly with Apple Cider Jus

Rodolfo Contreras

The Wright at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC

This playful pork belly appetizer features some disguised garnishes; your guests will be pleasantly surprised when they take a bite.


Pork Belly:

  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 whole allspice
  • 1 whole clove
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 pounds pork belly
  • 1 1/2 Granny Smith apples, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Apple-Rosemary Purée:

  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Apple and Potato Garnish:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and halved
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Sea salt to taste


To make the pork belly, toast the coriander seed, fennel seed, peppercorns, allspice, and clove in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Grind the spices in a spice or coffee grinder. Combine the spices with the salt and sugar. Score the pork belly and rub with the spice mixture. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Remove the belly from the refrigerator, wash off the spice mixture, and let come to room temperature. Place in a large Dutch oven and add the apples, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaf, chicken stock, and wine. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the pork is very tender.

Remove from the oven and take the pork out of the pot. Skim the fat from the remaining pan juices. Reduce the juices over medium-high heat until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar. Reserve the jus in the refrigerator.

To make the apple-rosemary purée, tie the clove, star anise, and cinnamon in a cheesecloth sachet. In a medium pot on high heat, cook the sugar until it is golden caramel in color. Carefully add the wine. (It will steam.) Add the spice sachet and apples; cook over low heat until very tender and there is not much liquid left in the pot, about 10 minutes. Discard the spice sachet.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the rosemary. Cover and let infuse for 10 minutes. Strain the butter. Transfer the apples and butter to a food processor and purée until smooth.

To make the apple and potato garnish, use a melon baller to carve small balls of out of the apples and potatoes. Heat a tablespoon of the canola oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the apple balls and sugar. Cook until golden brown. Add the wine and cook until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a sauté pan. Add the potato balls and cook until they start to become golden. Add the butter, garlic, and rosemary and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Slice the pork belly into 2 x 1-inch rectangles. Sear the slices, fat side down, in a hot pan until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the pork belly to the Dutch oven holding the apple cider jus; place the pot in a warm oven and heat until the slices are warm to the touch.

To serve, place a dollop of apple-rosemary purée on a plate. Top with a slice of pork belly. Garnish with three balls each of apple and potato. Drizzle with apple cider jus. Finish with sea salt.


12 to 14 servings as an appetizer