Apple cider braised pork shoulder

It’s fall.  It’s raining.  It’s cold.  It’s time for comfort food.  I picked this recipe to try out today because I like the combination of apple and pork.  It gives a very “autumn” flavor.  The active prep time and effort is pretty minimal compared to the effect of the presentation.  After I stuck the dutch oven in the oven, I went and had a nap.  It was nice to wake up to the aroma of the dish!

The 3-lb shoulder we got made enough to feed at least 6 adults, so there’s plenty of left over for another quick and easy meal.

The recipe is taking from Epicurious.  It’s pretty critical to serve the pork with the caramelized onions.  Tonight we ate it with the fat still in the cooking liquid, which was fine, but it was a bit too rich for my liking.  So the next time I make it, I would make the dish a day ahead, refrigerate it, so that I can skim off the fat from the cooking liquid more easily, then reheat it in the oven before serving.

To side track a little, I had to buy a big jug of apple cider to make this dish, so I had a lot of apple cider left.  I put a few cups of it in a sauce pan, added cloves, cinnamon sticks, all spice berries, a slice of ginger, and simmered for 20 minutes to make spiced apple cider.  So yummy.

Ingredients

  • 1 (3- to 4-lb) bone-in fresh pork shoulder half (preferably arm picnic)
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb onions (5 or 6 medium), halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 3/4 cup unfiltered apple cider

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Score fat and any skin on pork in a crosshatch pattern. Make slits all over meat with a small sharp knife and insert a garlic sliver in each slit. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in a 4- to 5-quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown meat on all sides, turning occasionally with the aid of tongs and a carving fork, about 8 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate.
  4. Add onions to pot and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes more.
  5. Stir in cider and return pork to pot.
  6. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and braise pork in middle of oven until very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  7. Transfer pork to a serving dish with the aid of tongs and carving fork. Boil cooking juices with onions until mixture is reduced to about 2 cups, 2 to 3 minutes, then season with salt and pepper and serve with pork.

Pork can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, uncovered, then chill, covered. Reheat in liquid, covered, at 325°F 1 hour.

 

Beautiful cut of pork shoulder from Market Meats.

Beautiful cut of pork shoulder from Market Meats.

Searing all sides of the pork shoulder.

Searing all sides of the pork shoulder.

Apple cider braised pork shoulder.

Apple cider braised pork shoulder.

Addicted to the pumpkin patch

The weather was beautiful today, and Joshua H was here.  So we decided that a second pumpkin patch visit was in order.  Mike and Kath won’t have time to take Joshua to the pumpkin patch, so we’re going to take him.

I’m not all that sure about our Joshua, but Joshua H had lots of fun.  He fell a few times in the patch and got a little dirty, but the soil was soft enough that it didn’t hurt him.  He was quick to get up and keep stumbling in the patch.

Our Joshua spent most of his time in the hiking pack, so he wasn’t as involved in the pumpkin picking activities.  I thought it was hilarious that when we put him on the grass for pictures, he would touch the grass and quickly draw his hands back, like the grass was too dirty for him to touch.  He sat on the grass but demanded to be picked up.  I laughed so hard.

Joshua H picked a little pumpkin from the patch, and we picked another medium size one to bring home to carve.  We also bought a white pumpkin from the retail area.  I’m not sure if we are supposed to carve the white one, but I thought it would be cool to put it on display at home.

The boys play really well together.  For two first-borns, I thought they are quite good at sharing toys and snacks, and compromising without even being able to speak.  I really hope they grow up to be good friends!

First pumpkin patch visit

I’ve been so excited about the idea of taking Joshua to the pumpkin patch for the first time, I almost forgot that this is also MY first time going to a pumpkin patch.  I didn’t grow up in North America, and once I moved here just never had a reason to go.

There are a few pumpkin patches in the Vancouver area.  A friend told me about the Westham Island Herb Farm pumpkin patch, so we took Joshua there today.  Let me tell you, this place KICKS ASS!  They put quite a bit of effort into displaying all kinds of pumpkins from their farm!  There’s also a cute little general store, a retail area with organic and local fruits and vegetables, a farm animal area, and of course the pumpkin patch.  I felt like a kid in a candy store, seeing all different colors and shapes of pumpkins and funky gourds.

Oh, and Westham Island Herb Farm doesn’t charge any admission fee!  Yeah, you got that right!  If you pick a pumpkin from the patch, it’s 30 cents a pound.  But otherwise there’s no additional charge.  I know, my jaw almost dropped when the lady told me there was no fee.

We put Joshua in his dragon suit and took some pictures with the display pumpkins.  Then we popped him in the hiking pack and went to the patch.  There are all sorts of pumpkins in the patch; green, orange, red, and white.  It was a week day in the middle of the afternoon, and we were the only ones in the patch.  Cliff picked out an apartment sized pumpkin, and we headed back to the retail area to pick up some pie pumpkin, potatoes, gourds, and honey.

After all that fun, Joshua fell fast asleep on the car ride home.  And I can’t wait to eat the pumpkin pie made from the pie pumpkins!