Hot-smoked pork belly with cider, apples and marjoram

Hot-smoked pork belly with cider, apples and marjoram

Grill Smoke BBQ
Kris Kirkham

The classic combination of pork, apple and cider has been around for years. It is said that this culinary triumvirate first came into being in Normandy, where all three elements are in plentiful supply. When I was young, my parents would cook pork chops with grilled apples and cider gravy, and I remember thinking how exotic and interesting the dish was (I think it’s still rolled out in the Tish senior household on special occasions). You’ll need to start this recipe the day before.

There’s only one non-negotiable in this book… and that’s serving this pork with Smoked mashed potato.


Quantity Ingredient
1.2kg boneless pork belly, skin on
1 quantity see method for ingredients
4 small apples
1/2 bunch marjoram, leaves picked, to serve
sea salt
black pepper

for the cider glaze

Quantity Ingredient
100g dark brown sugar
50ml cider vinegar
500ml dry cider


  1. Using a very sharp knife, score the skin of the pork belly in criss-cross fashion. Place the pork in a non-reactive bowl or container, then pour over the brine and 3 litres of water. Leave for 7–8 hours in the fridge.
  2. For the cider glaze, place the sugar and vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan and heat on the stovetop until the sugar has dissolved. Pour in the cider. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until thick and syrupy. Reserve and keep warm.
  3. Light the barbecue and set for direct/indirect cooking. Place the lump of wood onto the ashen charcoal to start smoking.
  4. Lift the pork out of the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the meat all over with some of the glaze, then place skin-side down on the grill in the direct heat zone. Cook for 3 minutes before turning and cooking for 3 minutes on the other side. Transfer the pork, skin-side down, to the indirect heat zone. Place a water tray in the direct heat zone. Baste the pork with the glaze, then close the lid (the temperature inside the barbecue should be about 170–175°C; regulate with the vents, if needed) and cook for 1 hour before turning and basting the pork again. Cook for another hour, then turn and baste again.
  5. At this stage, check if the water tray needs topping up, and add a fresh batch of coals from the chimney starter and another lump of wood. Place the apples on the grill around the pork and cook with the lid closed for a further hour, then baste the pork again. Check to see if the pork is very tender – it should be soft enough to cut with a spoon. If not, keep cooking and basting for another hour or so. To be on the safe side, use the temperature probe to check the internal temperature of the pork, which should be around 75°C.
  6. Finish with a final glaze, then remove the pork from the barbecue and leave in a warm spot to rest for 20 minutes. The apples can come out at the same time as the pork, as long as they are nice and soft.
  7. Cut the pork into into four thick slices, and serve each one with an apple and a sprinkle of marjoram leaves.


  • You’ll also need a lump of hardwood, a chimney starter, a water tray and a temperature probe.
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