Fill your home with the delicious smell of autumn and instead of a puddle of Yankee candle wax, you’ll have dinner at the end.
Apple Cider Braised Pork Roast
1 4-5lb pork roast
salt and pepper
5 yellow onions, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
5 juniper berries
5 allspice berries
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 twigs fresh rosemary
2 twigs fresh thyme
3/4 cup Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup apple cider
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper generously all sides of your pork roast. The roast I used has the bone in it still, but you could use a boneless roast, it will cook faster. Heat grapeseed oil on high heat in the bottom of a large dutch oven, or heavy bottomed pot with tight-fitting lid, until it shimmers. (I love my Le Creuset. Thanks Brother & Ine for a perfect wedding present!)
Put pork in the pot. It should sizzle and spit. Roll it around to sear all sides. You’re only going to put each side on the bottom once, so roll it over and let it cook 4 or 5 minutes. You want it very brown but not burned. When all sides are seared, including the ends, remove the pork to a plate and set aside. Add the onions and stir to coat with the oil and yummy rendered pork fat. Cook until the onions are caramelized on the edges. This requires that you resist the urge to stir. You’ll cook them for about 10 minutes, stirring only once or twice.
While the onions are cooking, make a sachet of the celery, garlic, bay leaves, juniper and allspice berries, peppercorns, rosemary and thyme. To do this, cut a large piece of cheesecloth. If the wholes are big, double it over so none of your peppercorns get away. This sachet is just for flavor so at the end, you’ll pull it out and toss it into your compost pile. Lay your cheesecloth flat and pile all the ingredients in the middle. Pull the corners up and tie around the top with kitchen twine. Think of a hobo’s sachet. It should look like that. Set aside.
When the onions are caramelized, add the cider vinegar and cider. Scrap the bottom of your pot to get all the bits off the bottom and into the sauce. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Put the pork back in, along with the sachet, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer 3 hours (45 minutes – 1 hour for boneless) rolling around every 20 minutes or so.
When the pork is done, it will have shrunken significantly and should register 160 degrees against the bone. Remove to a plate and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Remove and toss the sachet, thanking it for its hard work. If you have a compost pile, you can toss the whole thing in. Simmer the braising liquid until it reduces by half. That’s your gravy*.
Serve with potatoes boiled, mashed, baked or otherwise and a green vegetable. Sauerkraut or apple sauce make good sides too. And the gravy. Mmmm….fall….
*If you prefer a thicker gravy, you can make a roux. Roux is going to be its own entry, but in a nutshell, put 2 tablespoons of fat (oil or butter) into a skillet. Heat to high and stir in 2 T unbleached flour. Stir constantly with a whisk until the flour smell is gone. Add 1 tablespoon finely minced celery and pull from the heat. The celery stops the cooking – don’t skip this step. Stir the roux into the gravy one teaspoon at a time until desired thickness is achieved. This is the nutshell version. Stay tuned for the how, when, and why of roux coming pre-Thanksgiving dinner.