One Pot Braised Pork Belly, Black Pudding & Apple

12 pieces of cooked pork belly (approx. 50g each)
12 slices of black pudding (approx. 20g each) dusted in plain flour
50g duck fat
3 granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 12 wedges
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100ml cider
50g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flat parsley, finely chopped
Cracked black pepper

Place the pork belly in a hot skillet or heavy based pan at least 12inches in diameter over a medium heat and cook briefly on all sides until golden. Take care to avoid being burnt from the spitting pork fat and place a piece of tin foil loosely over the top of the pan. Remove the pork and drain well on absorbent paper. Keep the pan hot and return the drained pork to the pan. Add the well-dusted black pudding, cook for 1-2minutes over a high heat, turning the black pudding half way through and adding the duck fat as required. Add the apple to the black pudding and continue to pan roast over a high heat. Add the onion and garlic and carefully stir, taking care not to break up the black pudding. Add the cider, bring to the boil then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the butter and parsley and toss and season well with salt and pepper. Serve with mashed potatoes and a dressed green salad.


With over 30 years’ experience as a chef, Glasgow-born James has honed his culinary skills across the globe including in Melbourne, Australia where he lived with his wife and two young children for seven years. Since returning to Scotland in 2013, James has continued to climb the gastronomic ladder and has held executive chef positions in several establishments, including Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club in Edinburgh. He has also previously worked at Macdonald Pittodrie House in Aberdeenshire.

James McCulloch Thomson said: “Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa has an iconic Scottish setting and it is a true honour to be appointed as executive head chef. It’s an exciting time in the hotel’s history, with the property just completing a major transformation and this role was just too good an opportunity to miss.”

On his cookery style James continued; “My style of food offers a simple and lighter way to eat, yet with multi-layered flavour and texture combinations and the odd bit of quirkiness. For me basing the menus around Scotland’s larder is key. It’s by far and away the best there is and I’ll be focusing on seasonality and using the best suppliers and producers, from the fishermen and farmers to gamekeepers.

“My inspiration comes in so many ways on a daily basis, from seeing something for myself to someone showing me something which evolves from an idea into a dish. My favourite ingredients by far are langoustines and scallops, simply grilled with butter and served with fresh lemon. Simplicity at its best!”


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