Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pork Shoulder Braised with Apples

Pork braised before the apple part is done. This picture will have to do instead of a picture of my plate.

There was a concern we'd not have a main course for an apple-themed potluck at work, so I was voted to bring it. I decided to do a pork roast. Pork and apples, I already knew that was a win; when I came across this recipe it was essentially a sure thing. Also, I thought it would be easy to adapt for reheating in a crock pot.

Pork Shoulder Braised with Apples
adapted from Epicurious
click to print

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 oz thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tbsp unsalted butter
5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 6 pieces
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c Calvados or other apple-flavored brandy
1 1/4 c apple cider, preferably fresh
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tart, firm apples (such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch wedges (about 4 cups)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
fresh chives, chopped

Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 325°. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.

Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until browned and crisp, 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add butter to pot with drippings.

Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, cook pork shoulder, reducing heat as needed to prevent overbrowning, until brown on all sides, 8-10 minutes per batch. Transfer pork shoulder to a platter.

This took a total of 30 minutes.

Drain all but a couple tablespoons of fat from the Dutch oven.

If you trimmed the fat or just had little fat on your shoulder you might not have to do this. I'd left all the fat on mine.

Add onion to pot and cook, stirring often, until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

My onions were softened in less than two minutes.

Remove pot from heat; add Calvados and stir, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Return to heat and simmer for 1 minute.

Add apple cider and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Bring to a simmer.

Return pork shoulder to pot, placing in a single layer on bottom of pot (the meat should not be completely covered).

Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise pork shoulder, turning after 1 hour, until fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Using tongs, transfer pork to a Crock Pot insert.

Skim fat from cooking liquid (or use a fat separator).

Place pot over medium heat and bring liquid to a simmer.

Stir in reserved bacon.

Add apples and cook until apples are just tender and sauce is slightly reduced, 8-10 minutes.

Stir Dijon mustard into sauce; season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.

Pour sauce with apples over pork on platter.

Or if you're taking it to work the next day, pour the sauce and apples over pork in a Crock Pot insert. Cool and refrigerate. Reheat in advance of the potluck.

Sprinkle with chives when serving.

And I was right. The pork was perfect for the potluck; there wasn't any leftover. It was perfectly tender and sweetened by the apples. I did wish the apples had a slightly firmer texture, as they ended up very soft after cooking and reheating. Maybe that's because I used Galas instead of the recommended Pink Lady or Honeycrisp. Still though, glad I did it!

  • vegetable oil: $0.06
  • thick-cut bacon: $1.16
  • unsalted butter: $0.05
  • boneless pork shoulder: $15.76
  • onion: $0.31
  • Calvados: $3.78
  • apple cider: $0.39
  • apple cider vinegar: $0.04
  • apples: $1.13
  • Dijon mustard: $0.08
  • fresh chives: $2.49
Total: $25.25 or about $4.21 for each of what is supposed to be six huge servings.