500g/1lb 2oz pork belly, skin removed and reserved
200ml/7fl oz cider
knob of butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
For the polenta
500ml/18fl oz chicken stock
400g/14oz quick-cook cornmeal
75g/2½oz mature Cheddar, grated
75g/2½oz blue cheese (such as Stilton or gorgonzola), crumbled
75g/2½oz Emmental, grated
75g/2½oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
For the braised fennel
4 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
For the fennel crisp
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
Scatter the onions, garlic and bay leaves over the base of a roasting tray.
Grind the whole spices to a powder using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Rub them into the pork belly, then lay it on top of the onions. Cover with foil and roast for 3 hours. Set aside to rest.
Increase the oven temperature to 230C/210C Fan/Gas 8. Put the pork skin on a flat baking tray, season with salt and place another baking tray on top of it. Roast until crispy. Set aside.
Pour the cooking juices from the pork tray into a small saucepan and place over a high heat. Add a little cider (you may not need it all) and reduce until syrupy. Whisk in a little butter and balsamic vinegar. Set aside and keep warm.
To make the polenta, bring the stock to a gentle boil and whisk in the cornmeal a little at a time. Turn down the heat and let the polenta bubble gently for about 5 minutes. Add the three cheeses and beat in the butter. Set aside.
To make the braised fennel, heat the butter in a frying pan and braise the fennel slices in the butter until soft. Set aside.
To make the fennel crisp, heat a deep-fat fryer to 180C (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended). Fry the fennel for 3 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with sea salt.
To serve, place a spoonful of polenta onto the serving plate along with the braised fennel and top with the roasted pork and a piece of the crackling. Garnish with the fennel crisps and serve the cider gravy alongside.