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Take a couple of bottles of good, full bodied apple cider, a pork picnic shoulder, a good spice rub and a few hours in the oven and you’ve got juicy, tender Cider Braised Pulled Pork.
Nothing says winter to quite like the combined flavours of apple and pork. Living in an area of Canada where apples, and consequently apple cider, is plentiful; this is a combination that really makes sense after a cold day in the snow. The smell of it filled the house as it cooked, long, and low, and slow.
Pulled pork takes a long time to braise, but it’s not active cooking. Sear the meat mid afternoon and pop it in the oven where it more or less takes care of itself. So long as you check on it from time to time to be sure it has enough liquid, braising is a breeze.
We dined on the remains of this meal for almost a week. Cider Braised Pulled Pork freezes well and makes a wicked sandwich or wrap. Here we’ve paired with with two fast, super simple sides; Sweet Potato Fork Mash with Brown Butter and Wilted Baby Kale for a winter’s feast without the fuss.
Cider Braised Pulled Pork
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 4 to 6 hours
Serves – six to eight
3 lb pork shoulder roast
1/4 cup cup apple cider vinegar (divided)
2 onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed dried chili flakes
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried ginger
3 tablespoons cooking oil
Salt & pepper – to taste
2 – 1/2 cups good quality apple cider (or apple beer)
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow prepared mustard
1. With a mortar & pestle (or in a bowl) mix seasoning rub: garlic powder, onion powder, crushed chili flakes, cumin and ginger until thoroughly combined.
2. Prepare shoulder by removing excess fat if necessary. Sprinkle (or rub) 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar all over meat. Allow to stand for 2 – 3 minutes. Season meat with salt & pepper. Heat oil in a pan or dutch oven and sear all sides to seal in juices. Remove meat and reserve to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°F) Add rough cut onions and garlic to pan and lightly sweat vegetables, about 3 minutes, deglaze pan with cider. Rub spice mixture well, coating the meat and place pork on the onions and cover with lid. Place in oven at 300°F (150°F) for 3 – 5 hours or until pull apart tender (checking the liquid occasionally to be sure the pot has enough moisture to avoid burning).
4. After cooking, remove meat to broiling pan and reserve. Remove cooked onions & garlic puree into a food processor or blender, add remaining apple cider vinegar and pour back into the juices in the bottom of the pan (add water if needed). Add any remaining seasoning mix plus ketchup & mustard and simmer to proper consistency, around 10 minutes, over medium high heat. Adjust seasoning to taste.
With two forks (or whatever utensils work for you) pull-apart pork shoulder into shredded pieces. Add shredded meat to pan now rendering your sauce; toss to coat and serve.