Braised Pork with White Wine, Apples and Spices


Thanks to our habit of purchasing pork a half-pig at a time from local small farms, we usually have several pork roasts in our chest freezer at any time. I sometimes cube these up and use them to make pork curries of one kind or the other (for example); sometimes I marinate them with spices and stick ’em in the slow cooker (for example). And sometimes I experiment with hybrid preparations of one kind or the other (for example). Today’s recipe falls in the last category. It involves the use of Indian spices but also apples and white wine—which to my mind seems like something I would associate with cooking from somewhere between France and Germany. And there’s also fish sauce and Sichuan peppercorn in there. All of this may make it seem like a fusion dish—and, depending on how you define fusion cooking, it may well be one—but to me the end result seems very much like a curry variant anyway. Indeed, when I improvised this in January we enjoyed it alongside dal and Indian veg dishes with rice/quinoa; but it was also very good just mopped up with bread. No matter how you locate it on a map, however, it is very tasty.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs or so pork shoulder or butt
  • The following ground to a coarse powder: 1 tblspn coriander seed, 1 tblspn black peppercorn, 1 tblspn Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1 tblspn kosher salt
  • 3-5 dried red chillies
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head garlic, each clove sliced thickly lengthwise
  • 1 tblspn grated ginger
  • 1 tblspn coarsely ground cumin
  • 3/4 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 2 tart-sweet apples, peeled, cored and cut into four wedges each
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken or pork stock
  • 1 tblspn fish sauce
  • 1 tblspn jaggery or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tspns chopped cilantro for garnish
  • 3 tblspns neutral oil of choice
  • Salt

Preparation

  1. Sprinkle the roast liberally with the coarsely ground black pepper, Sichuan peppercorn, coriander seed and the kosher salt. Press the spices into the meat and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.
  2. Remove from the fridge an hour before cooking and gently pat it dry all over.
  3. Turn the oven on to 350f and place a cast iron skillet or similar heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
  4. Once the cast iron skillet has gotten pretty hot place the roast in the pan (it should sizzle immediately) and sear on all sides, letting it brown but not scorch (about 5-7 minutes per side). Remove to a plate.
  5. In a Dutch oven or similar (enameled cast iron is best) heat the oil over medium heat and when it shimmers add the star anise and the dried chillies.
  6. As soon as the chillies puff up but before they darken too much add the sliced onion, garlic and salt, mix in thoroughly and saute, stirring often, until the onion is softened and beginning to brown nicely.
  7. Add the ginger and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
  8. Add the haldi and ground cumin, mix in and saute for another minute or two.
  9. Place the seared roast on top of the onions and arrange the apple wedges around it.
  10. Add the stock, the white wine, the fish sauce and sprinkle the jaggery over. Tilt the pan around to mix and distribute evenly. The liquid should come about 2/3 the way up the sides of the roast.
  11. Cover, place in the oven and cook till your desired temperature is reached.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the roast to a cutting board. Let it rest for 10 minutes or so.
  13. Pour the rest of the contents of the pan into a large, shallow serving dish.
  14. Slice the roast thickly and arrange the slices over the sauce.
  15. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with steamed rice or bread.

Notes

  1. One of the keys to this dish—as with all braised meat dishes—is to not burn/scorch the pork at the searing stage. If you do then try to scrape the charred bits off before putting the pork in for the long braising step. Otherwise there will be some bitterness in the final dish. Here, watch a video of this hunk of pork browning.
  2. I used one cup of white wine because that’s what I had in an empty bottle in the fridge. If you have more you could try it with more wine than stock or even with just all stock.
  3. Resist the temptation to make this spicier. The pepper and the red chillies will give it just a bit of bite and that’s enough for the balance in this dish.
  4. The only reason I slice the garlic cloves thickly is that the fantastic garlic we get from our CSA (and which we managed this year to make last almost through the entire winter) usually has only four massive cloves per head. If you have regulation garlic feel free to just leave the cloves whole.
  5. Does the onion have to be red? No, it doesn’t but it’s what I had.

2 thoughts on “Braised Pork with White Wine, Apples and Spices

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