Despite the fancy drinks of autumn,
Like pumpkin spice latte with cinnamon dusted whipped cream,
Or caramel appletinis with sugar coated rims,
I am content with the simplicity of a chilled glass of apple cider;
The cider was comforting and made my time listening
To a bad remake of an 80’s song a little easier;
And after I spoke with our agent,
I added a good shot of brandy to my apple cider,
Thereby making the sticker shock of our new premium a little more palatable.
My adoration for cider goes beyond beverages. I adore cider in donut form, as in Solebury Orchards apple cider donuts;
I also like to boil apple cider to a syrup consistency and drizzle it over pancakes or waffles;
I’ve tried many recipes for slow cooker pulled pork. It is so convenient, but I never could develop a full flavor without first browning the pork in a separate pan, followed by reducing the liquid in another pan at the end of cooking. If you do the math, that is one too many pots to clean.
This braising method is a one pot deal. The pot should be heavy bottomed with a lid that is stovetop-to-oven-friendly, like my Big Red here.
The sweet apple cider is a big flavor component of this recipe but it needs a little acidic balance from apple cider vinegar. I also add a few sliced apples, with their peel intact. Apples, especially their peels, contain pectin which will help to thicken the resulting sauce.
The pork gets another flavorful boost from a boatload of yellow onions, six to be exact. I know it may sound like a lot but without them, the pork would be a little flat in the taste department; besides, the onions make a great topping for pulled pork sandwiches.
The other aromatics include ginger, garlic, and cinnamon,
And just a tablespoon of molasses for a little depth of flavor.
In a few hours, the pork is fork tender. I let it cool slightly before shredding it. This pork is headed for sandwiches, but the leftovers could be repurposed for tacos, pasta, or wraps.
Strain the liquid and taste the sauce. Does it need to be sweeter? Add a tablespoon of brown sugar. Does it need to be more acidic? Add a little more apple cider vinegar. Now add the brandy and reduce the sauce on top of the stove for 20 minutes.
I finished the sauce with a few pats of butter and a sprinkling of salt. There is no need for bottled barbecue sauce here.
Solebury Orchards is located in New Hope, Pennsylvania. The farm and market offers a variety of seasonal fruits, fresh pressed cider, cider donuts, applesauce, and vinegar. The farm is especially popular during apple season, where you can pick a variety of apples or purchase them at the market.
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 lbs. boneless pork butt, excess fat trimmed
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 6 medium yellow onions, cut into ¼ inch slices
- 2 large apples, cored, sliced in ¼ inch slices
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ cup brandy
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Heat oil over medium heat in an oven proof heavy pot.
- Season pork with salt and pepper.
- Cook pork until nicely browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Remove pork.
- Add onions to the hot oil, and cook until just beginning to brown and soften, about 10 minutes . Stir in apples, garlic, and ginger and let cook for a few minutes.
- Whisk together the apple cider, apple cider vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, and mustard powder with a fork. Add mixture to onions along with cinnamon sticks. Stir, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.
- Return pork to the pot. Cover and cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours until very tender.
- Remove pork to a cutting board to cool slightly. Shred the pork with forks and season with salt to taste.
- Strain the vegetables, reserving the onions as a topping if desired. Return liquid to the same pot, add brandy, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning accordingly. If more sweetness is desired, add a tablespoon of brown sugar, if more acidity is needed, add a tablespoon more of vinegar. Season with salt to taste. Cook until reduced by half and thickened slightly, about 20 minutes.
- Add butter to the sauce and stir until melted.
- Remove 1 cup of the sauce for serving. Add shredded pork back to the pot with remaining sauce and stir.