Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apple-cider braised pork with mustard

Any of you who follow my blog regularly probably know this already, but I love pork. Especially the pork the Haskins family raises locally. Fall is the perfect time of year for pork (although I won't argue with grilled spare ribs on a hot summer evening; heck I won't argue with pork anytime really--just gimme).

Fall fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, squash, and cabbages go beautifully with pork: a little sweet-sour sets off rich fattiness so well (or maybe that's fatty richness?).

Anyway, I was wrestling (as usual) with what to make for dinner tonight earlier today, and I remembered I had a nice piece of pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) left from a recent CSA-share pickup. The idea of a little pork with some apple cider syrup and mustard in a low-slow braise started simmering. One thought led to another, and I threw together a quick braising liquid and let the pork cook over low heat all day long, which was especially nice as the rain came in with colder air. Is fall finally really here? It doesn't seem to want to make up its mind.

Although it takes hours to make, this dish is one of the easiest things you can imagine. Just combine the ingredients in a Dutch oven, set it on the stove, and leave it alone. All day. If you are so inclined, you could flip the meat over at some point, maybe pour some of the liquid over the top of it a few times. You know, just to stir things up a bit. Or maybe to grab a quick taste of the braising liquid, make sure you added enough salt. That kind of thing.   

Here's the recipe:

  • 1 4-5 lb piece of pork shoulder
  • 4 Tbsp apple cider syrup (if you don't have this, replace the syrup and the water with 1 cup of fresh apple cider)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • smoked paprika (optional, but it's good)
  1. Place pork shoulder in the Dutch oven, season (very liberally) with salt, pepper, and paprika
  2. Place onion slices and garlic cloves around the pork
  3. Mix apple cider syrup, water, mustard, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl and put it in the Dutch oven with the meat, onions, and garlic cloves
  4. Bring the liquid up to a boil on high heat, then cover the Dutch oven and lower the temperature to the lowest setting on your stove
  5. Let it cook over slow heat for 4-5 hours; check on it from time to time (mostly to waft lovely smells into your kitchen). When the meat starts sliding off the bone, it's done.
I served the braised pork (which came out tender and rich) with some red cabbage sauteed with apples and apple cider vinegar. The contrast of salty and fatty with the sharpness of the vinegar was lovely. I think I might use some of the leftover meat to make quesadillas tomorrow.... Or, maybe I could heat up some leftover meat and braising liquid and serve it over some homemade mashed potatoes. Mmm. Now that sounds good. Heck, you could drizzle the braising liquid over some toast and call it a day.  


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