Browned slices of pork belly and apple wedges were stewed in applesauce and a myriad of herbs and seasonings. By the time the pork was tender, the apple wedges had softened and the apple juice had mixed in with the applesauce. The fruit’s natural sugars have caramelized at that point too. And what’s the cooked pork and apple stew like? Beautiful.
Beautiful like how?
Like this: You get wonderfully textured pork (the result of browning before stewing) coated with a lightly sticky and glistening sauce. For best results, include a piece of apple with every spoonful (forkful for you Westerners) of pork. That way, you get that indescribably sumptuous interplay of meat and fruit that’s you are not likely to ever forget.
One pan cooking: pork and apple stew
- Rinse the pork belly and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- If you don't want to cook the pork with the skin, cut off the skin and reserve for another dish (don't discard!).
- Cut the pork belly into slices about three-quarters to an inch thick. If the slices are too long, you may cut each into halves. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Melt the butter in a pan. Arrange the pork slices in a single layer in the pan. Over high heat, sear on both sides until nicely browned (a light crust should form on the surface of the meat).
- Add the onion slices, ginger, apple wedges and raisins. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the onion slices are slightly softened, and the apple wedges are lightly browned along the edges.
- Pour in the applesauce and balsamic vinegar.
- Add the tarragon and marjoram, and a bit more salt and pepper. Stir the contents of the pan.
- Cover the pan. Set the heat to low and slow cook the pork and apples for 45 minutes to an hour. The actual cooking time depends on the quality of the meat and the thickness of the slices. If the liquid runs dry before the pork is done, pour in water, a quarter cup at a time. Taste the sauce occasionally too and adjust the seasonings, if needed. You may need to add sugar if the apples you used are on the tart side.
- There will be very little sauce by the time is dish is cooked. And what little sauce there is should be thick. If that's what you're seeing, then, you cooked the dish right. It's a stew, not a soup, after all.
- Arrange the pork slices in a serving platter. Scatter the apple wedges, onion slices and raisins on top and on the sides. Spoon whatever sauce there is over everything. You may optionally sprinkle in some chopped parsley before serving. The pork and apple stew is good with either rice or bread.