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Cider-Braised Pork with Apples, Onions and Thyme

Serve braised pork for an Irish-inspired dinner

Items like stew made of mutton, beef or lamb, cod fish cakes and potato dishes are notably associated with Irish cuisine. However, many may be surprised to learn that pork has been a key part of the Irish diet for centuries.
In fact, dating back to Neolithic times, large amounts of pig bones have been found near ancient habitations in what is now Ireland, likely indicating that wild boar, and eventually domesticated pigs from farms, were a prime source of food.
In the 18th century, Ireland was a major exporter of pork, butter and cheese. Irish cured bacon and ham were coveted, as were pork sausages, which are staples of traditional Irish fare.
That is why ‘Cider-Braised Pork with Apples, Onions and Thyme’ can be the perfect recipe for an Irish night at home.
This recipe is courtesy of ‘Edible Seattle: The Cookbook’ (Sterling Epicure), edited by Jill Lightner.
CIDER-BRAISED PORK WITH APPLES, ONIONS, AND THYME
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tied pork shoulder roast, 3 to 4 pounds, netting or string intact
1 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil, plus more, if needed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium leeks, halved lengthwise and cut into half-moons
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ pound small yellow pearl onions, peeled
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
3 to 4 cups hard apple cider
1 tart apple, peeled, cored and cubed
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat a large, heavy, ovenproof soup pot or Dutch oven (with a tight-fitting lid) over medium-high heat. Place the flour on a small plate. Season flour liberally with salt and pepper. Pat pork dry; then coat it on all sides with the flour mixture.
2. When the pot is hot, add peanut oil and sear pork (leaving the string on) until nicely browned on all sides, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a plate, and carefully wipe the pot clean with paper towels. Reduce heat to medium.
3. Add olive oil to the pot, then the leeks, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add garlic, onions and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, then nestle the pork in among the vegetables. Add cider until it comes about halfway up the sides of the pork, cover the pot, and transfer it to the oven. Braise for 1 hour; then turn the pork over, add the apple cubes, and braise for another hour or so, until the pork yields completely when poked with a skewer.
4. Transfer pork to a platter, cover with foil, and let rest. Meanwhile, return the braising liquid to the stove top, and simmer until considerably thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the mustard; then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley.
5. Slice pork and top with the apples, vegetables and braising liquid.
Serves 6
Serving suggestion: This dish is tailor-made to be eaten with a bowl of mashed potatoes

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