Pork with apple. A classic, centuries-old combination.
Where I live there’s a sad absence of roast pork the way I like it; leg or shoulder of pork enrobed with a crisp, light, mouthwateringly fragrant crackling that begs to be served with a spiced apple sauce – something we traditionally served on Boxing Day (December 26th), many years ago, back home.
Despite the absence of crackling, this is pretty much the next best thing and appeases my nostalgic longings by perfectly capturing all those flavors in a simple braised dish. The pork is wonderfully moist and tender and the apple really shines through.
I recommend serving it with mounds of fluffy mashed potato and something green on the side – I’d go for Brussels sprouts (perhaps leaving out the bacon in this instance).
It tastes even better the next day.
CIDER-BRAISED PORK with APPLE & SHALLOTS
1 tablespoon of olive oil
8-10 shallots of equal size, peeled
7 oz (200g) of pancetta, chopped into about 1 inch (2-3cm) pieces
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1.5 lbs (0.70 kilo) of pork sirloin or shoulder, cut into 2 inch (5cm) chunks
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of all-purpose (plain) flour
9 fl oz (250ml) of hard cider (the alcoholic variety)
1 large apple such as Braeburn or Cox, left unpeeled, cored and cut into eight
1 tablespoon of juniper berries, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
4 -5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
a sprig of fresh thyme
21 fl oz (600ml) of chicken or vegetable stock
Heat the olive oil in a wide, deep sauté pan with a lid and brown the whole shallots, turning them around. You want them to have little brown patches all over.
With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a large bowl. Now cook the pancetta until it’s crispy and brown and has released its fat. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a couple of minutes then transfer all of that with a slotted spoon to the same bowl, leaving the pancetta fat behind.
In a separate bowl, season the flour with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper then toss the cubed meat to coat thoroughly with flour.
Brown the chunks of pork on all sides in the pancetta fat then pour in the cider, giving it all a good stir. Let the cider simmer away until it’s reduced by about a half then add the shallots, pancetta and all the remaining ingredients – stir thoroughly and bring everything to a boil.
Put the lid on and reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to cook for a couple of hours or until the meat is really tender.