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    Pork and Cider Hotpot

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    Pork and Cider Hotpot

    Belly pork is a very inexpensive cut of meat, but enormously rewarding if you treat it to long, slow cooking: this helps it release its flavoursome fat and become beautifully tender. Simmering it gently in the oven with cider and a few herbs creates a rich, deeply savoury dish that's somehow greater than the sum of its parts. The onions are crucial – make sure you get them really soft and floppy before you add the pork, and they will contribute a beautiful sweetness to the finished stew. A little mustard added at the end helps to define all those mellow flavours, making this a true winter warmer.

    • Preparation time: 20 minutes
    • Cooking time: 120 minutes
    • Total time: 2 hours 20 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 20 minutes

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients

    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 large onions, peeled and very finely sliced
    • 1kg belly pork, skin removed and fat trimmed, cut into 2cm cubes
    • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
    • 1 bay leaf, torn in half
    • 500ml dry cider
    • 1½ tsp English mustard

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, ovenproof casserole over a medium-low heat. Add the onions, season well and cook, stirring often until really soft – at least 15 minutes. Don't let them brown.
    2. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat with the remaining oil and brown the pork, in batches, seasoning it as you go. It should be nicely caramelised all over. Add the pork, and any juices it has released, to the soft onions, and stir well. Add the thyme and bay leaf and pour in the cider. It should just cover the meat. Bring to the boil then cover the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours.
    3. Taste the juices, season to taste, stir in the mustard, and serve with plenty of fluffy mashed potato to soak up the juices. I also like serving this with apple slices, lightly fried in butter – they work beautifully with the rich pork.

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    Drinks recommendation

    When your kitchen's full of the cider-apple aromas of this hotpot, it would be sacrilege to serve this dish with anything else.

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