Whisky, sage and maple pork belly with buttery caramelised apples

June 5, 2020 (Last Updated: May 30, 2020)
Whisky, sage and maple pork belly with buttery caramelised apples

Your weekend just got tastier!

Recipe by Claire Ferrandi

Photograph by Dylan Swart

Whisky, sage and maple pork belly with buttery caramelised apples

Serves: 4
Total Time: 3 hrs



  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • 600 – 700g pork belly, skin scored
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • handful fresh thyme
  • 660ml/2 bottles cider
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • handful fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 6 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and cut into cubes pinch salt

  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • handful fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 60ml (¼ cup) whisky
  • 90ml fresh cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste



For the pork belly, preheat the oven to 200°C.


Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large, shallow stove-to-oven pot/casserole dish (with a lid for later use) placed on the stove over high heat. Season the pork belly all over, then brown all sides of the pork to seal in all the juicy moisture of the meat. Remove the pork from the pot/casserole dish and set aside. Keep the pot/ casserole dish on the stove.


Reduce the heat to medium and place the 2 tbsp butter, the fennel seeds and dried chilli flakes in the same pot/casserole dish. Stir to combine, then fry for about 2 minutes. Add the onion, celery and 5 peeled garlic cloves, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the thyme and cider, and cook for 10 – 15 minutes over high heat until the alcohol evaporates and the liquid reduces to ½, and then add the maple syrup.


Return the pork belly to the pot/casserole dish, skin side up. Transfer to the preheated oven and roast, covered with the lid, about 1 hour or until soft, then roast, uncovered, for a further 30 – 40 minutes to crisp up the crackling.


For the caramelised apples, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pot over medium heat, then fry the sage leaves until crispy. Remove from the oil and set aside until needed. Add the 1 tbsp butter to the olive oil and once it begins to sizzle, add the apples and sauté until golden brown and soft. Season with a pinch of salt.


For the sauce, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, chopped sage and the 2 minced garlic cloves until golden brown, then add the whisky and allow to reduce, about 10 – 15 minutes, until ½ the liquid remains/the alcohol has cooked off. Add the juices and onion mixture from the roasted pork belly to your saucepan.


Finish the sauce by adding the cream and 1 tbsp butter, while stirring continuously, 5 – 10 minutes to combine. Season to taste. Remove from heat. The sauce can either be sieved or served rustic style with the pieces of onion, celery, sage and garlic included.


To serve, slice the roasted pork belly, arrange the caramelised apples around it and place the whisky sauce alongside.

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