Who’s excited for fall? All fingers are pointing to me right now. I love what summer stands for but really don’t love the heat. I’m not even sorry about sharing this recipe right now, even though it’s currently still hitting 80 degrees every day here with like 20000% humidity. It will soon be sweaters and pants weather and all things cozy. This is fall in a pot!
This is a slow braised pork shoulder that is golden-brown and meltingly tender, flavored with some of my favorite flavors…apple cider! bacon! caramelized onions! apples! Oh and we have some Calvados…apple brandy that transports you right to Normandy. All of these ingredients basically cook down into a savory-sweet applesauce-like confit that is so perfectly paired with the rich, fatty pork that you’ll wonder why you haven’t been eating this for your whole life. Pair it with a green salad because it’s a lot of richness and A LOT of brown. In the best way possible.
I spent the afternoon at a local apple orchard this weekend…is it too soon?? I say no.
Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onion, Apple and Bacon Confit
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
3 to 3-1/2 pounds pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup Calvados brandy
1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, picked from stem or finely chopped
1 cup apple cider
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
Splash of Calvados brandy
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Generously season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper before searing.
In a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, sauté the bacon over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, until fat is rendered and the bacon is slightly crisp but still meaty. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind. Set aside for later. Turn the heat up to medium-high and sear the pork on all sides, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pot, add all of the onions with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, stirring to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions have cooked down and are caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the Calvados and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Once the Calvados has reduced, add the apples, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Return the pork to the pot, nestled into the onion-apple mixture. Cover with the apple cider, apple juice and chicken stock; bring the mixture to a boil on the stovetop. Once boiling, cover the pot, leaving slightly ajar to allow most of the liquid to evaporate while cooking. Place in the oven and braise for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until the pork is tender.
Remove the pork from the pot to a cutting board. Remove the bones from the pork, if you used bone-in shoulder. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple-onion mixture to a small saucepan, leaving behind most of the fat in the pot used to cook the pork. If your mixture is very thick, you can add a bit of apple juice or cider to reconstitute. Heat the mixture over medium heat to thicken slightly; while heating, add a splash of Calvados, the apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard, stirring to combine. Return the cooked bacon to the apple-onion confit. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, cut the pork into pieces and serve over the apple-onion confit.
Inspiration: Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onion and Apple Confit on food52.com