One summer we were touring wine country on Vancouver Island visiting wineries, farms and cheese makers. One of our favourite places was Merridale Cider. They were one of the first to begin making English style apple cider. We tasted and tasted some more, then bought their Traditional style, Somerset and Scrumpy. When we got home we drank some but set some aside because I wanted to make stew using their cider once fall arrived and I could use locally grown apples. We both gave the results 2 thumbs up!
Makes Approximately 6 Servings
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. well-trimmed pork butt, cut into 1 ½” cubes
½ cup flour
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. fresh sage, chopped or 1 tsp. dried sage
1 large apple, such as Braeburn or Bramley Seedling, peeled, cored & cut into ½” cubes
2 carrots, peeled, cut into ¼” dice
2 large slices bacon, chopped (preferably an English Gammon style bacon)
1 bay leaf
4-6 juniper berries, pressed with the back of a knife
2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
2/3 cup Scrumpy or other dry English style hard cider
1 cup homemade chicken stock (see below) or purchased low salt/no salt chicken broth
1 or 2 tsp. cider vinegar
Garnish: 2 – 3 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons of canola oil to the pan and heat. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic or paper bag; shake to combine. Add a few cubes of pork at a time to the bag; shake until coated then place into the pan with the hot oil, without crowding. Brown on all sides and remove to a plate. Continue in the same manner with the remaining pork cubes.
Add the bacon to the pan and fry until browned, but not crisp. Add the onions; sauté until softened; add the carrots, apples & garlic; sauté for a couple of minutes. Return the pork cubes to the pan. Add the herbs, bay leaf, juniper berries & half the parsley. Stir to combine. Add the cider, chicken stock & cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to simmer and braise for approximately 1 ½ – 2 hours until pork is tender.
Note: I also used chunks of peeled, cored quince that have been sautéed after the pork is browned and removed to a plate cook the quince until lightly coloured, remove and set aside until the last 30 minutes or so of braising time. Substituted fresh rosemary for the thyme and sage works well here.
Helpful link to Making Stock.