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Cider-braised Pork Shoulder


The perfect pork recipe for the holidays


  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder, excess fat removed
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • Braising ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large honey crisp apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary, left whole
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme, left whole
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Remove excess fat from pork shoulder if necessary. There should be a quarter-inch layer of fat left. Score the fat cross-wise, careful not to cut into the meat. Inject pork shoulder with worcestershire sauce, and rub thoroughly with dijon mustard. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate 24-48 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. When ready to cook, take the pork shoulder out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for at least an hour before searing. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottom dutch oven over medium-high heat until you start to see wisps of smoke. Lay the pork shoulder fat-side down and allow the fat cap to sear and render for about 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Brown all sides of the pork shoulder until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove pork shoulder from dutch oven, and set aside. You should have flavorful brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Pour off all the remaining fat, reserving 3 tablespoons.
  4. Sautee the onions, fennel, apples, and crushed red pepper in the reserved fat until translucent and softened, about 8 minutes. Add the pork back to the onion, fennel, and apple mixture, making sure the veggies and fruit provide a nice “bed” for the pork. You can bring up some of the veggies/fruit mixture up the sides of the pork as well. Pour in the apple cider and water into the dutch oven, making sure it comes up 3/4 the sides of the pork — it shouldn’t be covered in liquid. If you don’t have enough liquid, pour in more water until you’ve reached 3/4 up the sides of the pork. Add the rosemary, thyme, star anise (if using), cover the dutch oven and bring to a boil. Once the pork has reached a full rolling boil, place the dutch oven into your pre-heated 300 degree oven, and braise for 3 hours with the lid on. Remove the lid after 3 hours, and braise an additional hour.
  5. Remove the dutch-oven from the oven, and let the pork shoulder cool for about 20 minutes. Skim any excess fat from the top of the liquid. Taste the braising juices and adjust seasoning as needed. Carefully carve slices of the tender meat and serve.


If you do not have a large dutch-oven, you can use a slow cooker instead. Sear the meat, cook the aromatics until they’re softened, then add everything to your slow cooker. Cook on desired high or low heat setting until the meat is completely tender.

  • Prep Time: 48 hours
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
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