Brined, braised, and beautiful: Tuck into the Clifton’s pork belly

The Clifton's pork belly. Photo: Tom McGovern The Clifton’s pork belly. Photo: Tom McGovern

Matthew Bousquet hasn’t been in Charlottesville for very long—the Michelin-starred chef from San Francisco was hired to head up the kitchen at the newly reimagined Clifton hotel this summer—but he’s already discovered the city’s secret sauce: our abundance of fresh, local ingredients.

This fall, Bousquet is particularly glad to use Autumn Olive Farms’ pork in a cider-braised belly dish.

“Featuring Autumn Olive Farms is always a joy for me as this is one of the first Shenandoah products I discovered upon moving here,” Bousquet says. “Clay and Linda Trainum have done amazing things with their Berkabaw heritage pork, some of the best pork with which I have worked.” Welcome to Charlottesville.

The Clifton’s Cider-Braised Pork Belly


1 cinnamon stick

3 star anise

1/2 tbs. coriander

1/2 tbs. fennel seed

1/2 tbs. black pepper

1 cup kosher salt

1 cup white sugar

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs thyme

3 tbs. rosemary

3 cloves garlic

Place 5 to 6 pounds of belly in the brine and let rest in fridge for 24 hours before cooking.

Braising liquid:

1 gallon apple cider

1 1/2 cup mirepoix (onion, leek and carrot, roughly equal amounts of each), roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Remove belly from brine and rinse. Place fat side up in a deep casserole dish, add mirepoix vegetables and pour in cider until half way up the side of the belly. Place in oven and baste every half hour until fork tender. Cut into portions and serve immediately with desired accompaniments (roasted butternut squash, carmelized Saunders Brothers apples, spoonbread, and the like).