Apples and pork are a common pairing because the sweet and tart go hand in hand. SO, it makes perfect sense that hard apple cider would be the most amazing liquid to braise pork. What is braising, you ask? It's the process of slow cooking meat in liquid, resulting in melt in your mouth-fall off the bones-goodness. After the pork is finished cooking, it gets set aside for a bit while you turn the braising liquid into the most glorious gravy. I added in some peas to break up all the brown (and add some veggie brightness!), and you've got a one pot meal that also makes AMAZING lunches the next day.
After the first time I made this, my husband told me it just might be his favorite meal ever.
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder country ribs
- 2 yellow onions, minced
- 1 1/2 cups dry hard apple cider
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 10 ounces fresh English peas
- 1/3 cup crème fraîche
- 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
- 4 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Meanwhile, using a paper towel completely dry the pork. The dryer the pork, the better they will develop the gorgeous golden brown crust when you brown them. Season the pork with salt and pepper.
When the butter starts to foam, add the pork and cook it about 4-6 minutes per side, until all the sides are a dark golden brown. Be sure not to crowd the pork in the pan, which will bring the temperature down and they won't brown as well. If you need to do this in batches, when one batch is done, remove with tongs and set aside on a large plate.
Once all the pork is browned, and set aside on the plate, add the onions to the pot. Sauté, stirring often, until they are translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Pour the cider over the onions, bring the mixture to a boil to deglaze the pan (which means you're getting all those flavor bits left from the pork incorporated into the onions and cider). This should only take a couple of minutes.
Reduce heat to the lowest setting, add the pork, along with any juices, back to the pot. Sprinkle the thyme, cover and cook until the pork is easily shredded with a fork, about 1 1/2 hours. You want no resistance at all when you try to shred it! If the liquid starts reducing too much, and the meat starts sticking, add about 1/2 cup more cider.
When the pork is done, add the peas and cook for 5-10 minutes. You don't want the peas to be mushy, so taste one to be sure it's cooked. In a small bowl, stir together the crème fraîche, egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of parsley. Set aside.
When the pork is cooked, using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a large platter or serving dish. Whisk in the crème fraîche mixture to the cider sauce, and whisk over very low heat until fully incorporated. Don't let the mixture boil!
Pour the sauce over the pork, sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve immediately.
If you're serving for a crowd, put the pork on a oven safe platter, and keep in a 200 degree oven in case your guests want seconds!