braised pork and apples with melted radicchio and endive
This recipe is for those of you who want a project on a chilly Fall day. It is not hard, but it takes two days. However, do not let that scare you as the actual hands-on preparation requires only about two hours. This braise takes advantage of the apple season and it is a forgiving, easy braise to do.
The “hands-on” portion is simply three parts. Part One, you make the brine and soak the meat overnight in the refrigerator. Part Two, you give your braise its flavor by browning your vegetables and the meat (after removing it from the brine). Now you place everything in a Dutch oven or a crock-pot and let it braise for 8 hours on low heat and get on with your day. Part Three, make a sauce from the cooking liquid.
Because the apples and the pork tend to go to the sweet end of the spectrum, this dish really needs the radicchio and/or endive to balance it (but you can use cabbage, kale or make an arugula salad if you prefer). Generally I serve this dish with white cheddar buttermilk biscuits, but you can serve it with creamy white polenta or potatoes as well.
Je vous souhaite un bon appétit !
braised pork and apples with melted radiccho and endive
Serves: 14 (4 ounce serving)
(approx. 280 calories per 4 ounce serving)
what you need:
2 quarts water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 apple wedges with peel
1/4 cup sliced fennel
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 tablespoon dried bird chilies
rind from 1/2 lemon
1/8 cup dark Myers’s rum
1 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoons juniper berries
2 slices orange rind
Handful fresh Italian parsley
7 stems fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leafs
4 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and tied
freshly ground pepper
olive oil (as needed)
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup fennel, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 cup leek, white portion, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
Sachet (bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, 5 juniper berries, 3-4 fresh thyme stems, fresh Italian parsley)
1 cup apple juice reduction (reduced from 2 cups)
4 cups (approximately) chicken stock
2 Golden Delicious (or Fuji or Pink Lady) apples, cored, peeled, and cut into eights
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 cup Calvados
2 white belgium endives, halved
1 head radicchio, quartered
pinch of kosher salt
- Brine (day one)
1. Mix Brining Liquid. Use a large plastic container or even a deep, large bowl for the brine. Heat two cups of the water and dissolve the salt and sugar in it. Once dissolved, add the remaining water (cold) and the brine ingredients. Add pork.
2. Let It Brine. Cover and place in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
- Braise (day two)
1. Prepare Pork. Remove pork from the brine and rinse well. Pat dry. Tie with kitchen twine to ensure even cooking. Season with salt and pepper.
2.Sear Pork. Heat a large cast iron pan (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Add pork to pan. Brown pork on all sides. Remove pork from pan.
3.Degrease Pan And Add Aromatics. Degrease the pan by pouring off excess fat or wiping pan with a paper towel. Add aromatics to pan (onions, carrots, celery). Cook until golden color to develop flavor.
4.Pincée. Add tomato paste to aromatics and toss to coat.
5.Deglaze. Add white wine to aromatics. Toss to coat. Reduce au sec (meaning, cook it until dry — there is no liquid left in the pan).
6.Assemble Braise. If using a Dutch oven, add pork back in and place on top of aromatics. Add apple cider. Add chicken stock (enough to cover 2/3 of the pork. Add sachet. If using a crock-pot, place vegetables in the bottom, place meat on top, add liquid and sachet.
7.Braise. Cover and cook in oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or in a crock-pot set on the low 8 hour setting. Make sure that it is a tight cover so when the cooking liquid evaporates it condenses on lid and drips back down to baste the meat. Pork is done when it is “plastic fork tender” (which means you can easily place a plastic fork in the meat without breaking off one of the flimsy plastic teeth).
8.Strain Pork. Remove pork and set aside (keep it warm by covering it with aluminum foil). Using a chinois and china cap, strain cooking liquid from the vegetables and sachet.
9.Make Sauce. Use a fat separator or a spoon to remove grease from strained liquid (you can cool it which will make it easier to remove the fat from the top). Place the strained liquid in a sauce pan over medium/high heat. Reduce to sauce consistency (should reduce to about half). Taste it. If it is too sweet, add more chicken stock and/or lemon juice. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
10.Add Pork to Liquid. Cut kitchen twine from the pork. Remove fat portions and shred pork to desired size. Toss in liquid. Cover and keep warm while you make the apples and radicchio (you can return everything to the crock-pot, just do not let it dry out).
- Sauté Apples
In a sauté pan over high heat, melt butter. Add apples and sugar. Cook until they are soft. Off heat, add Calvados. Return to heat and reduce demi sec (until liquid almost dry). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Braise Endive and Radicchio
Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons butter to to sauté pan. Place endive and radicchio face down and salt lightly. Once lightly browned, ladle in chicken stock (cover vegetables 2/3). Cover with a lid. Reduce heat and cook until tender (should take about 10 minutes, if undercooked will the vegetables be too bitter… if overcooked they will fall apart).
You can mix the apples with the meat or keep them separate. Make a bed of the radicchio and endive. Place apples and meat on top. Serve with a starch of your choice. The presentation is not fussy but meant to be a casual, comfort meal so you do not even had to plate it, you can serve it family-style if you want. The pork makes great left-overs.