Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Apples and Fennel

6–8 servings

This is one of those dishes that you can shove in the oven and forget about. Make sure the shoulder still has the skin on to help seal in the juices and keep the meat moist. It’s terrific with noodles or smashed potatoes.

1 3–4-pound bone-in-pork shoulder roast (or picnic arm)
3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large onions cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup apple cider

Preheat the oven to 325º degrees.

Score fat and any skin on the pork in a crosshatch pattern. Make slits all over the meat with a sharp knife and insert a garlic sliver into each slit. Pat the pork dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter in heavy ovenproof pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat and brown the meat on all sides, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes, total. Transfer the meat to a plate.

Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and begin to turn a light brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue cooking until the onions are golden and caramelized, about 9–10 minutes more. Add the
apples and fennel, then stir in the cider. Return the pork to the pot. Cover the pot tightly, transfer to the oven and braise the pork until very tender, about 2-1/2–3 hours.

Transfer the pork to a carving board and allow to rest about 10 minutes. Put a corner of the pot onto the stove set on high and bring the juices to a boil. The fat will move to the cooler corner where it can be scooped off. Continue boiling until the juices have reduced and the sauce has reached a consistency you like, then season it with salt and pepper.

Slice and serve the pork drizzled with the juices.