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Serves: 6

1.5kg Piece of Belly Pork

2tsp Five Spice Powder

1tsp Black Peppercorns, crushed

4tbsp Local Honey

1tbsp Maldon Salt

2 Bramley Apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3tbsp Apple Vinegar

750g Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed

150ml Local Cider

Locally produced pork is an ideal meat for early spring, as its lighter flavour and texture goes so well with the last of the winter’s vegetables – I serve it with braised spring cabbage and, as here, caramelised sweet potatoes. And despite its trendy new image as the chefs’ favourite, belly remains a well-priced choice and a talking point, as not everyone has tried it yet. If you can’t find belly, try pork shoulder cooked the same method

  1. Pierce the skin of the pork all over with a skewer then pour a kettle of hot water over it and pat dry with kitchen paper. Mix together the five spice powder, peppercorns, half the honey and salt and rub all over the belly pork. Leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C, Gas 6. Place the pork, skin side up, on a rack set over a roasting tin filled with hot water. Roast for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 170C, Gas 3. Cook the pork for a further 2 – 2½ hours.
  3. Remove the pork from the oven, pour off any fat and add the apple slices and sweet potatoes to the pan. Toss in the juices and sprinkle with the remaining honey. Pour the apple vinegar over the pork, baste with the juices and then return the pork to a really hot oven at 230C, Gas 8 for a further 15 minutes until crisp and golden.
  4. Remove the pork from the oven and place on a serving dish with the roasted apple slices and sweet potatoes. Add cider to the pan and scrape up the juices. Simmer to reduce by half then sieve and serve with the pork in thick slices.

Local food tip: Look out for rare breed pork to get the best flavour for this dish. I got my belly pork from Farmer Palmer who raise their own traditional breed pigs locally in Kent. They sell through farmers’ markets and a few local butchers – see their web site.

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