National Geographic Traveller (UK)
TRADITIONAL WELSH CIDER (PGI) TRADITIONALLY REARED PEDIGREE WELSH PORK (TSG)
From roasted hogs with apples in their mouths to chops served with sweet, apple sauce, pork and apples have been happy table companions for centuries. It’s not surprising, then, that cider — be it sweet, dry or sparkling — works well with pork dishes, and not just in them, but alongside them, too.
Traditional Welsh cider has PGI status, meaning every batch is made entirely in Wales from first-pressed juice of homegrown cider apples. The country’s current cidermaking revival is being led by producers such as Old Monty Cider, which has been producing a small selection of awardwinning single variety and blended ciders in Montgomery, Powys, since 2006. The ciders, which are available in varying levels of sweetness, are made from cider apples including michelin, dabinett and harry masters jersey, all of which are grown at the Old Monty Orchard and handpicked, pressed and matured using traditional methods.
Old Monty is just one of several lauded cider producers operating in Wales today. At Hallets Cider, ex-engineer Andy Hallett, who began making cider as a hobby, produces some 100,000 litres each year at his hill farm in South Wales. Though not made using the PGI-certified method, his award-winning ciders are created from 100% pure Welsh apple juice that’s fermented, carefully blended and then aged in a variety of casks.
Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork, which was awarded Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) status in 2017, comes from Welsh pigs that have been reared according to a traditional rearing method that allows for a more natural growth rate than other more conventional commercial systems of pork production.
Since the pigs are allowed time to mature, their meat develops a distinctive flavour that intensifies during the minimum of two days the carcasses are required to be hung before being sold. Traditionally reared pedigree Welsh pork has a light pink or rose colour and a high fat content that produces tender, succulent meat.
Cider works beautifully with a variety of different pork cuts and dishes, as well as pork products such as terrines or pork pies. Choose a sweet apple cider to complement a homely pork and apple casserole or contrast with a salty ham hock or gammon roast. Meanwhile, a dry or medium dry cider would make a wonderful accompaniment to slowcooked pork belly by helping to cut through the fat.
WHERE TO START: Old Monty Cider can be purchased at The Castle Kitchen coffeeshop in Montgomery and at the Gower Heritage Centre. Hallets sells bottles, cases and bag-in-boxes on its website. oldmonty.co.uk halletsrealcider.co.uk