The Cottage Smallholder

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Danny’s Belly of Pork slow roasted on a bed of Bramley apples recipe

Danny was upbeat as he swung his car into the space front of the butcher’s shop.
“Let’s stop mourning Fred’s old shop closing and enjoy the search for a new butcher. It could be fun.”

The Chicken Lady had reminded me that there was a good butcher in Fordham, a fifteen minute drive from Cheveley. This shop specialises in free range local meat. Some of their cattle graze on the stud farms that surround our village.

We stepped over the threshold past a long fringe of spiced beef and hunks of biltong.  This was an unusual sight in a village butcher’s shop in the heart of a small Cambridgeshire village. We were surprised to learn that there is a relatively large population of people from southern Africa in these parts.

“I’d like to buy a whole belly of pork, please.”
“We have just one left!”
The joint was much smaller than those that we bought from Fred’s and the same price (£10). But this was organic, free range, locally sourced pork. As we had some old friends coming for supper on Sunday evening we dived in and bought it. At 2.3 kilos (bones in), we discovered that this would have fed six hungry people with second helpings. The ordinary pork belly shrinks a lot when roasted. Are the ordinary joints injected to plump them up?

The recipe below is D’s standard recipe but he added the twist of slicing some cooking apples from the garden laying them in the nest beneath the joint and adding some raspberry vinegar to the cooking juices underneath the joint for the last hour or so. The plan was to make an apple sauce by spooning the mush from underneath the meat into a blender, minus apple skin. Somehow that step was forgotten as the wine and conversation flowed.

The cooking apples and vinegar tenderised the meat still further and kept it succulent.  As the belly weighed more than double the joint in the original recipe, he thought that it might need more time but four hours was fine.

He put the cooked joint under a low grill for a few minutes to encourage the crackling to bubble. It tasted amazing. Melt in the mouth and full of flavour. If in funds, we’d now buy free range pork belly for a roast every time or save up if we needed to.

I can’t wait to try bacon cured from free range pork. It would still be much cheaper than the ‘decent’ bacon available in the shops. I reckon that it might not shrink so much when it’s cured and smoked.  I’ve ordered an ordinary pork belly and now plan to buy a hunk of free range to compare and contrast.


Danny’s Belly of Pork slow roasted on a bed of Bramley apples recipe
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 4 hours
Total time: 4 hours 15 mins
Serves: 4-6
  • These quantities are for a 2 kilo (approx) joint. Halve them for a 1 kilo joint.
  • I – 2.5 kilo joint of belly of pork
  • 15-20 leaves off a sprig of rosemary
  • 3 large cloves of garlic sliced (or 3 small for a smaller joint)
  • 2-3 cooking apples (ideally Bramleys) cut into 1 cm slices (skin on but not the cores).
  • 2 tablespoons of raspberry vinegar
  • Enough foil to form a nest for the joint to sit in
  1. Place the pork, crackling side down, in roasting pan. Distribute the rosemary and garlic evenly over the base of the belly. Then add your layer of sliced apple. Place the foil over and press it down so as to keep the herbs and apple layer snugly in place.
  2. Turn the whole lot over, crackling side up, and form the foil into a snug nest, with walls, around the joint, leaving the crackling exposed and ensuring that the fat from the crackling will drip into the foil nest.
  3. Roast at 140c (fan) for 3 hours and then turn down to 130c (fan) for another hour (4 hours total).
  4. These are our fan-assisted oven temperatures
  5. so you may wish to adjust for a conventional oven, but not by much I think. Maybe +10% maximum.

The oven temperatures are for a fan assisted oven, adjust as necessary. If you are cooking on an Aga, use the slow oven but you may need to put the joint into the high oven for ten minutes at the end to get the crackling to bubble and crisp, or pop it under the grill.
The purpose of the foil nest is to prevent the juices from drying out and to ensure that the base of the joint cooks in its own juices.

  Leave a reply


  1. Need some info about curing our own ham/bacon from our cornish lop ladies.saw an article on this site afew weeks ago but our printer was down at the time and it’s taken a while to replace it.

  2. Ingle’s in New Cheveley Road used to claim the ‘carriage trade’ in Newmarket (butcher’s one side presided over by Gordon Ingle and his son and grocery the other which was the preserve of his wife and daughter). The shop is now a private house and Mr and Mrs Ingle have long retired but their son Eric is, as far as I know, continuing to work in the trade making sausages for Eric Tennant in The Rookery (Guineas shopping centre) in Newmarket. Eric is probably Newmarket’s most successful butcher – and a mean trumpet player too! This is probably much too ‘local’ for your worldwide readership but thought you’d like to know that there was once more to Newmarket than Waitrose and Tesco! The independent traders weren’t helped by the fact that in the days of yore some of Newmarket’s trainers expected everything ‘on account’! How times have changed.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Liz

    Great to hear your local tips! Thank you.

    Amazing that there used to be seven butcher’s shops in Newmarket. Really pleased that Fred won the prize 🙂

    Must check out Eddis’ pork butchers in Ely. If they sell good meat they are worth the trip. The Carter Street (Fordham) Butchers are pretty impressive to date.

    Hrllo Julie

    I really love both Danny’s belly of pork recipes that he has published on this site! Thanks so much for your feedback. Much appreciated.

    Always spot on especially as I am not doing the cooking on a Sunday!

  4. julie watts

    Have cooked your pork belly recipe three or four times since discovering your recipe / website (would have it more often but my arteries and hips wouldn’t forgive me!). Foolproof and delicious every time. Many thanks.

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