Stuart Archers roast pork belly with pickled apple, mushroom, asparagus & lemon mash

Stuart Archer is a research chemist turned MasterChef UK 2016 Finalist. He is currently experimenting with lots of new recipes and running a private dining service across the Midlands and Yorkshire. Visit for more!



  • Pork belly
  • 1 x 800 g pork belly
  • Fine Sea salt
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 Granny smith apples
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 2 white onions
  • 8-12 sprigs thyme
  • 500 mL bottle of medium-sweet cider
  • Pickled Apples
  • 150 mL Cider vinegar
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 50 mL water
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp black pepper corns
  • ½ tsp black pepper corns
  • 2 braeburn apples
  • Accompaniments
  • 12 small carrots
  • 450-500 g mashing potatoes
  • 3-4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Lemons 200 g
  • Seasonal wild or shitake mushrooms
  • 1 small leek
  • Large bunch asparagus


Pork belly

  • Preheat the oven to 230 deg. C (fan).
  • Pat the pork belly dry with kitchen paper, then deeply score the skin in a criss-cross pattern. Rub sea salt into the skin, making sure to work it into the scores, as this ensure the skin dries when cooking giving you good crackling!
  • Grind the fennel and mustard seeds in a pestle and mortar, and rub onto the bottom and sides of the pork.
  • Place the pork on a rack above a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 50-60 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on it- you want the skin to start crackling up but not to burn. If it starts to blacken, turn the heat down to 150 deg C fan.
  • Turn the oven down to 150 deg C (fan).
  • Core and quarter the Granny smith apples, quarter the fennel bulb and the onions. Remove the pork from the oven, take it off the rack, and drain the fat from the tray.
  • Place the chopped veg and the thyme in the bottom of the tray, pour over the cider and carefully place the belly skin-side up on top of the veg.
  • Place back in the oven and cook for a further 2 hours. Take care the liquid doesn’t all boil away – top up with a little water if necessary.
  • Once the pork is cooked (a fork will slide in and out of the meat easily), remove the tray from the oven, and carefully lift the pork onto a plate.
  • Cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  • To make the sauce, place all the vegetables and juices from the tray into a blender and liquidise.
  • Pass this mixture through a sieve into a clean saucepan (use a ladle to push it through if it’s slow), season well and keep warm until serving

Pickled apples

  • Make the pickling liquor by mixing the cider vinegar, sugar and water together in a pan and bringing to the boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the fennel seeds, pepper corns and thyme and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Once cool, core and chop each Braeburn into 6 pieces
  • Immerse in the pickling liquor and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour
  • Accompaniments
  • Scrape the skin of the carrots. Brush them with a little olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper.
  • Place in a roasting tray in the oven for the last hour of the pork cooking time.
  • Peel the potatoes (I used black potatoes in mine for their wonderful purple flesh, however any good mashing potato is great!) Roughly chop and boil the potatoes until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes, then pass through a potato ricer if you have one – don’t worry if not, just use a potato masher and thoroughly mash them!
  • Add 3 tbsp olive oil to the potatoes and return to a low heat, stirring constantly until a smooth, slightly creamy consistency is obtained, adding more olive oil if necessary
  • Add the zest from both lemons and the juice from one. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. The remaining steps can be done while the pork is resting
  • Slice the tips off of the asparagus, then finely slice the stems.
  • Finely slice the leek and and cook on a medium-low heat in a little olive oil until very soft and translucent. Add the chopped asparagus and cook for another 4-5 minutes
  • Leaving the mushrooms whole, fry them in olive oil on a medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally

To serve

  • Slice the pork belly into 4 portions. Place to one side of the place, with a good portion of the potato next to it.
  • Spoon the asparagus around the sides of the pork, placing the mushrooms and carrots on top of the asparagus
  • Add a generous helping of sauce and serve!stuart archers pork belly image



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