Sunday, January 27, 2013

Roast Pork in Hard Cider

This recipe combines two of nature's perfect ingredients: Pork and alcohol. It's also one that requires only 20 minutes of actual work on your part. The rest is done by the oven.

We've covered beef, chicken, and fish, so let's take on pork. Officially, you would call this pork shoulder braised in hard cider, I call it awesome.

Like any good barbecue, this recipe takes time--about 4 hours in the oven--so plan accordingly. But when you're done, you'll have a super-tender piece of pork that's insanely delicious.

What you'll need:

Pork Shoulder, a.k.a pork butt (about 3-4 pounds)
Two medium-size yellow onions
Four cloves of garlic
One bottle of hard cider
About half a cup of flour
Salt and pepper

1. Oven-proof pot. I picked up this 3.5-quart enamel-coated cast iron pot from JC Penney for $30 (a good deal--they usually cost twice as much), but you can use any pot that you can put in the oven.
2. Tongs. Get a fairly sturdy pair.

This is the pork shoulder (or pork butt--it comes from the same part of the pig). This one is "southern style for BBQ." I'm not quite sure what that means, but it's a little smaller than most other pork shoulders, doesn't have a bone, is wrapped with two pieces of string, and weighed about 3.8 pounds.

As you can see, the top of the pork has a fair amount of fat on it. While the universal equation of fat=flavor is a given, you don't need THAT much on top. Trim a bit of it off, but leave some fat on the top. Above, you can see the little pile of fat I took off. If it has strings, keep them on, too.

Next, you're going to cover all sides of the pork with salt and pepper. To make this easy (and to keep from getting raw pork bits on your salt and pepper shakers), pour the salt and pepper into a small plate first. Same goes for the flour.

After you've lightly coated the pork with salt, pepper, and flour, you've got to sear it in the pot. Turn the heat on medium high, and pour a tablespoon of oil in. Or, use a piece of the fat you just trimmed off the pork, and wait till some of the fat renders out. Then, take the piece of fat out.

In goes the pork. You'll want a pair of tongs for this. After you put the pork in, you'll want to turn it every five minutes, so that all sides, including the ends, get a nice golden brown. At this time, turn on your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The end result should look something like this. If, while this is happening, you try and pick the pork up and it sticks to the pot, don't try and rip it off. Just wait another minute or two. When it's ready, it will release on its own. 

While the pork is browning, cut up the onions and garlic. No need to be too fussy here. 

Once the pork is done browning, take it out and put it aside. In the bottom of the pot, you're going to see an incredible amount of grease, along with some brown bits stuck to the bottom. Pour out most of the grease, so that there's maybe a tablespoon left, but leave those brownish bits. That's the good stuff. 

Throw in the onions, and let them cook for about 5 minutes, until they start to get brownish. As they're cooking, get a wooden or plastic spoon, and start scraping the brown bits, so that they mix with the onions. Then, toss in the garlic, mix it all around, and let it cook for another minute or so.

Back in goes the pork. Then, crack open that bottle of hard cider, and pour it in. The liquid should come up about 2/3 of the way, so that the top third of the pork is above the liquid. 

Next, put the lid on the pot, and put it in the oven for the next 3.5 hours. Go enjoy the game, or whatever it is you like to do on a Sunday afternoon.

When three and a half hours are up, turn up the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and remove the lid from the pot, and put it back in for half an hour.

When the time is up, it's going to look like this. 

Using the tongs, take the pork out of the pot--be careful, because it will be so tender at this point, it will want to fall apart--and let it rest on a cutting board for about 5-10 minutes. 

Here's a little food porn for you.

Here's a little more. 

When you try and cut this with a knife (be sure to remove the strings) it's just going to fall apart in a juicy, porky mess. Go ahead: pick up a piece and eat it. 

Enough waiting. Dig in! Here, it's with a side of mashed turnips and red cabbage, which I'll get to very soon. They're also easy as hell to make, but right now, feast in the deliciousness that is your pork. 


  1. I do something very similar with pork roast and hard cider in my slow cooker over night.It makes for an amazing breakfast too!