Slow Roast Pork Belly With Leeks and Apples

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: If possible, begin a day ahead so that the pork is seasoned and rests uncovered in the refrigerator. This will help evaporate moisture from the skin to ensure that it roasts up to be super crisp. You’ll want to drain off the fat from this roast as it cooks. Store the fat in a covered container in the refrigerator and use it to sizzle potatoes, stir-fry vegetables, etc. From Beth Dooley.

• 3 to 3 1/2 lb. boneless pork belly

• 8 garlic cloves, cut into slivers

• 1 tbsp. crushed fennel seeds

• Generous pinches salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 2 leeks, white part only, sliced

• 2 large tart apples, cored and cut into chunks

• 2 c. hard cider

Directions

The day before cooking, score the skin of the roast in a crosshatch diamond pattern, being careful to cut through the thick layer of fat, but not into the meat. (You also can ask the butcher to do this for you.) Work the garlic cloves into the scored skin and then season the roast with the crushed fennel, salt and pepper. Place on a roasting rack set over a plate, uncovered, in the refrigerator, overnight.

Before cooking, remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the pork, skin side up, on a roasting rack set over the roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees, return the roast to the oven and continue roasting for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan and drain the rendered fat into a covered container. Add the leeks and apple to the roasting pan along with the hard cider. Continue roasting until the meat is very, very tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. If the pan seems dry, add more hard cider, 1/2 cup at a time. Toward the end of cooking, increase the heat to 400 degrees to completely brown the skin, about 10 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes before carving. (If a thick layer of fat remains between the skin and meat, gently cut it away and discard while retaining the crisp skin.) Serve with the roasted leeks and apples spooned over the meat.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 440 Fat 28 g Sodium 450 mg

Carbohydrates 23 g Saturated fat 10 g Total sugars 13 g

Protein 21 g Cholesterol 90 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ fruit, ½ carb, 3 high-fat protein, 1 fat.