Crisp pork belly with apple gel, apple pickle and celeriac puree

Crisp pork belly with apple gel, apple pickle and celeriac puree

Dig In!
Mark Roper

This dish sounds really technical, but it’s not. Pork belly takes a bit of time to cook as you have to render the fat and you want the crackling to be crunchy. Even though you render, or melt, the fat, the dish is still very rich, but the apple gel and apple pickle balance the flavour.


Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon vegemite
500ml beef stock
500ml apple juice
375ml guinness beer
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and bruised
3 granny smith apples, 2 halved and 1 peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
2 onions, quartered
1kg pork belly, skin scored
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
50g popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eschalots, peeled and halved
40g butter
crushed pepperberries, for garnish (optional)
fennel seeds, for garnish
nasturtiums or other edible flowers, for garnish

Apple gel

Quantity Ingredient
100ml apple cider vinegar
100ml apple juice
1 teaspoon agar agar

Apple pickle

Quantity Ingredient
60ml apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 granny smith apple, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice

Celeriac puree

Quantity Ingredient
40g butter
1 eschalot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 celeriac, peeled and grated
125ml vegetable stock
60ml milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (or 150°C for a fan-forced oven).
  2. For the pork, dissolve the Vegemite in a small amount of the beef stock and pour it into a deep roasting tin with the remaining beef stock, the apple juice and Guinness. Add the garlic, halved apples and onions.
  3. Rub the pork skin with 2 teaspoons of the salt and lay the pork belly on top of the apples and onions, skin side up. Roast the pork, uncovered, until tender, about 2 hours.
  4. Change the oven to the grill setting on high and grill the pork for a few minutes, moving the pork to a higher shelf if there is room, until the pork skin is crisp, about 5 minutes. If you don’t have an oven grill, turn the oven to the highest setting and cook, uncovered, for a few minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and strain and reserve the pan juices. Set the pork aside, covered loosely with foil, to rest. Discard the garlic, apples and onions.
  5. Meanwhile, for the apple gel, place the cider vinegar and apple juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, add the agar agar and whisk to combine. Boil for a further 2–3 minutes until the agar agar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a 20 x 30 cm flat tray. Set aside in the refrigerator until set, about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the set gel from the refrigerator and transfer to a small food processor. Blitz until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve. Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 5 mm plain nozzle and set aside in the refrigerator.
  7. For the apple pickle, place the cider vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Place the diced apple in a bowl. Pour the boiling liquid over the apple and set aside to pickle for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Place the unpopped popcorn kernels in a saucepan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon oil. Cook, covered, until the kernels just begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard (or eat!) the popped popcorn. Place the unpopped kernels in a small food processor. Add the remaining salt and blitz to a powder. Pass through a sieve to discard any large pieces. Set aside.
  9. Place the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the eschalot halves, cut side down, and cook for 3–4 minutes. Add the butter, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  10. For the celeriac puree, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the eschalot and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the celeriac and stock and cook, covered, until tender, about 12 minutes.
  11. Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add the milk and process to a smooth puree. Season, set aside and keep warm.
  12. Place the reserved and strained pan juices from the pork in a saucepan over high heat. Allow to boil until thickened and reduced, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  13. To serve, spread some celeriac purée on each serving plate. Slice the rested pork and place a slice on top of the puree. Add an eschalot half and some apple pickle, then pipe on some gel. Sprinkle with the popcorn powder and garnish with some of the diced apple, pepperberries (if using), fennel seeds and nasturtiums. Season to taste and serve.
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