Extra portions: Cider pot-roasted pork belly

Cider Pot-Roasted Pork Belly with Bramley Apples and Cherry.
Cider Pot-Roasted Pork Belly with Bramley Apples and Cherry.

If you lived at the Vickery residence, you’d certainly be spoilt for choice at dinner time. As well as This Morning chef Phil Vickery’s tasty bread and butter puddings (made using his dad’s recipe) and apple crumbles, you’d also be treated to his wife Fern Britton’s peerless potatoes.

“My wife does a brilliant roast, and the best roast potatoes in the world,” says Vickery, 52. “Even after so many years cooking, I still can’t get them like hers.”

The TV cook, who is busy writing a cookery book about British game, is currently supporting a Bramley apples campaign, celebrating the juicy British fruit.

Last month, he launched The Great Bramley Bake In, a nationwide search to find the best Bramley apple recipe, with foodies posting their fruity offerings on the Bramley Apple Facebook page.

The winning dish will be decided by public vote, taking place on the social media site from March 14-23.

Vickery may not have his TV presenter wife’s knack with spuds, but there’s no time for chips on his shoulder in the kitchen when the four children are all at home.

While most of the time, the kids (twins Jack and Henry, and Grace, from Britton’s previous marriage, and youngest daughter Winnie) can’t be “bothered” to whip up meals for the family, Vickery has noticed that when there is a compelling reason to, they do step up to the plate.

“I think the lads thought it was quite cool to cook for mates and prospective girlfriends,” he explains. “The girls are pretty good at cooking.”

But the rest of the time, it’s him and Britton who take on the bulk of the meals. Not that Vickery minds.

“I went through a stage of not wanting to cook,” admits the chef, who says that his dream dinner guests would be Harry Redknapp, Victorian chef Alexis Soyer, Mrs Beeton and Frankie Howerd.

“But now I really enjoy it again. I think all the years of pressured cooking gets you down a bit. Now it’s just good fun. Plus cooking on telly is great!”

He says his wife is a “very good cook”, and the couple like to keep the atmosphere light in the family’s home in Buckinghamshire.

“I like the radio on in the kitchen, so does Fern,” says Vickery. “It’s all very relaxed and informal, but we do like to be organised and hate rushing.”

With the children growing older and the twins at university, the chance for family mealtimes is scarce, but when they can all get together, they like nothing better than a tasty roast with all the trimmings.

“A roast is one of the few meals all the family will eat, so it’s perfect,” says Vickery. “We try to eat together as much as possible.”

If you fancy pulling your nearest and dearest together for a meal, here are three of Vickery’s personal favourite Bramley apple recipes, including a succulent fruity roast.

Cider pot-roasted pork belly with Bramley apples and celery (Serves 4)

750g belly pork in 1 piece, rind removed

2tbsp oil, any will do

1 small glass strong pork or chicken stock

1 small glass dry cider

2 large onions, very finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

A few sage leaves

4 large sticks celery, finely chopped

3 large Bramley apples (550g), peeled, cored and finely chopped

100g chorizo or any spicy sausage, chopped roughly, optional

Salt and pepper

Set the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Season the belly pork well with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the chopped chorizo (if using), melt slightly and then add the garlic. Next, add the belly pork and brown well on both sides. Remove the pork from the pan but leave the chorizo in there.

Add all of the veg, Bramley apples and sage to the pan, and then top with the pork and add the cider and stock. Bring to the boil, then place a lid on the top.

Transfer to the oven and cook for one hour and 30-45 minutes, or until soft and well cooked, but do not overcook.

Afterwards, gently mash the softened veg, apples and juices in the pan and thicken slightly to create a juicy sauce. Serve with the pork.