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Pork Braised in Cider Vinegar Sauce

This recipe has an autumnal ring to it and is for me the first casserole of the winter months. Pork shoulder is an excellent cut for braising and this recipe is superb for serving to friends and family because it just cooks away all by itself until you're ready to serve it. I also think it tastes even better the next day so, if you make it that far ahead, don't add the crème fraîche until it's re-heated. The re-heating will take about 25 minutes in a casserole over gentle direct heat. Note here, though, that it's important to use a good-quality cider vinegar. If you don't have a wide shallow casserole, use an ovenproof dish (same size) but pre-heat it first in the oven. Make sure everything reaches simmering point in the frying pan before you pour it into the dish, then finish the sauce in a saucepan.

 
 
 Pork Braised in Cider Vinegar Sauce

  Serves 4

Ingredients
 2 lb (900 g) pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
 1 pint (570 ml) medium sweet cider
 5 fl oz (150 ml) cider vinegar
 ½ oz (10 g) butter
 2 tablespoons groundnut or other flavourless oil
 12 shallots, peeled
 4 fresh thyme sprigs
 2 bay leaves
 1½ level tablespoons crème fraîche
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C)
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Equipment
You will also need a wide, shallow flameproof casserole, 4 pint (2.25 litre) capacity.

This recipe first appeared in Sainsbury’s Magazine (Guide to Meat Cookery).

Method

First, place the casserole over a fairly high heat and add half the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil. Meanwhile, dry the pieces of meat with kitchen paper then brown them a few at a time in the hot fat, transferring them to a plate as they brown.

After that, add the rest of the butter and oil and, when that's very hot, add the shallots to the pan and carefully brown these on all sides to a nice glossy caramel colour. Now pour the cider and cider vinegar into the pan, stir well, scraping the base and sides of the pan, then return the meat, add the thyme and the bay leaves and season well.

As soon as it's all come to simmering point, transfer the casserole, without a lid, to the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until all the liquid is reduced and the meat is tender. Now remove the meat and shallots to a warm serving dish, discarding the herbs, then place the casserole back over direct heat.

Bring it up to the boil and reduce the liquid to about half its original volume. Finally, whisk in the crème fraîche, taste to check the seasoning, then pour the sauce over the meat and serve.

 

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