One of the best things about the colder weather is cooking and eating comfort food. Comfort food warms us, feeding our soul and palate. It's rich, rustic and innately appealing, reminding us of home, lit fires, baking bread and beloved recipes we grew up eating. It also reflects the season, taking fresh, economical ingredients and slow-cooking them with rich satisfying results.
Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onion and Apple Confit is a perfect fall season dish that lands squarely in the comfort food category in my book. Pork shoulder slowly braises in apple cider and a confit of onions and apples until it is falling-apart tender. The cider and natural juices from the meat create a sweet and savory sauce which is fortified with Calvados brandy and finished with Dijon mustard, adding depth and sharpness to this hearty dish. As with most one-pot meals, it's meant to be eaten family-style and is easily doubled to feed a crowd. Prepare yourself: the pork will cook in the oven for several hours and fill your home with its delicious aroma. In the meantime, you can light a fire in the fireplace, grab that book you've been meaning to read and curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea. Enjoy the moment - this is what comfort food is all about.
Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onion and Apple Confit
2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg.) tied pork shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large yellow onions, halved, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml.) Calvados brandy
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, cut in 1/2" cubes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 cup (240 ml.) apple cider
1 cup (240 ml.) chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.)
Pat the pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof pot or Dutch oven with a lid. Brown pork on all sides, turning with tongs, 6-8 minutes per side. Transfer pork to plate.
Pour off excess fat from pot. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Add Calvados and stir to deglaze pan. Add apple, garlic and thyme, and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Return pork to pot, nestling it down in the onions. Add cider and chicken stock. Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce heat to 325 F. Braise until meat is very tender, 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Transfer pork to a cutting board and remove kitchen strings. Boil onion and apples until thickened and liquid slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in mustard. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cut pork into serving pieces and arrange on platter or individual serving plates. Spoon onion and apple confit over and around the meat.
Serve with Garlicky Mashed Potatoes.
You might enjoy these other one-pot dishes from TasteFood:
Braised Chicken with Porcini Mushrooms
Or try these delicious pork recipes from the Foodblogs:
Cranberry Apple Stuffed Pork Loin from Simply Recipes
Japanese Braised Pork Belly from Just Hungry
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Chipotle BBQ Sauce from Andrea's Recipes
Pork Roast with Mushrooms and Apricot Sauce from Karina's Kitchen