Weekly Winner: Match Made in Heaven — Pig Heaven, that is!

Cider Pork I realize I’ve been rather pork-centric lately but dangit, pork is good!  No… pork is great! And what goes better with pork than apples?  It’s a very traditional pairing but this week’s winner takes that subtle combination and really amps it up.

The recipe is Cider-Braised Pork  Shoulder and it comes from Sunset Magazine.  I was truly surprised at how strong (in a good way) the cider flavor came through.  Not just in the pork, but in the carrots as well.   Because my beloved farmer’s market has closed for the season here in Chicago, I could not find rainbow carrots; but the plain ‘ole orange ones worked beautifully.  The recipe also calls for “mashed potatoes or other root vegetables” but seriously, making this recipe without mashed potatoes is just plain wrong!  It screams for mashed potatoes.  Please, for the love of all that is right and holy …. make the mashed potatoes.

Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 -1/2 to 3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder roast, tied
  • About 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • About 1 tsp. pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 medium regular carrots, plus 18 small, slender rainbow carrots, ends trimmed, scrubbed
  • 2 large celery stalks
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • About 2 cups fresh, unfiltered apple cider
  • About 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Mashed potatoes or other root vegetables

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Season roast with 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Heat oil in a 4- to 5-qt. dutch oven over high heat until very hot. Brown pork on all sides, turning as needed, about 10 minutes total.
  2. Meanwhile, cut onion, medium carrots, and celery into 2-in.chunks. Arrange around the browned roast with garlic. Pour in 2 cups cider and 1 cup broth, adding more of either if the liquid doesn’t completely cover meat. Bring to a boil. Cover with foil, pressing it down onto meat to eliminate any air gaps, then add the lid.
  3. Braise in oven 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until a fork slides right in.  Let cool, then chill overnight. (Or let sit until cool enough to handle.)
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Spoon off fat from roast and discard. Transfer roast to a plate. Remove twine and break roast into 2-in. chunks with your fingers. Strain braising liquid and return to pot (discard vegetables).
  5. Reduce braising liquid to 2 cups over medium heat, 10 to 20 minutes. Return pork to pot. Taste and add more salt or pepper if you like. Cut rainbow carrots in half lengthwise and arrange over meat. Roast, uncovered, spooning juices over carrots a couple of times, until they begin to brown and are tender, about 50 minutes.
  6. Stir in thyme. Scatter parsley on top and serve with mashed potatoes.
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