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Three ways: pork in cider

Cider generally makes me think of two things. Firstly, pork. I can’t think of a more failsafe way to cook pork than with plenty of cider. Secondly, underage drinking. I abstained from cider drinking for nearly a decade after I drank about two litres of it when I was 13.

I had my first snog with the only human present, a female friend, and then passed out on my mum’s lap. I was so ashamed, not only did the mere smell of cider make my stomach turn for years afterwards, but I also lost touch with my bestie. It was an early baptism into the dangers of drink, which unfortunately did not inhibit me from trying Tuaca.

But I digress. That was years ago, and now, thankfully, I can enjoy cider in sensible quantities and without becoming experimental. Funnily enough, I tend to play it safe. I like to cook Delia’s pork braised in cider vinegar sauce, a favourite of my mum that we ate often at home. So simple to make, it was also one of the first dishes I cooked for friends after I moved out, and to much applause. It must have been some relief to find out that combining cider with pork shoulder, vinegar, shallots and creme fraiche, can reverse any tendency I once had towards nausea.

More recently – and this may be related to the fact I wrestled with six whole rolled pork shoulders at my wedding – I have been more inclined to buy alternative cuts. About a month ago I bought a slab of pork belly, put it in a casserole on a bed of shallots, bay, thyme and celeriac, poured in a good lot of dry cider and left it to cook for 6-7 hours in a low oven (about 150c). About half an hour before serving I took the meat out, cut off the rind and blasted it under a good heat (200c) for 15 minutes or so to make puffy crackling. While the meat rested, I heated the juices, shallots and things with a can of flageolet beans and stirred in a little creme fraiche. The meal fed us for three nights, and was particularly special served with a mixture of broad beans, leeks and spinach sautéed in butter.

On Easter Sunday, taking inspiration from this recipe, I roasted a pork rack over a bed of halved apples, banana shallots and bay leaves. When the pork was cooked (I cooked ours at 220c for 15 mins then for 1 hour 45 mins at 180c) I crushed the roasted apples to make apple sauce and made a gravy by reducing the shallots and meat juices with 1 tsp English mustard powder and a splash of dry cider. Served with red cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, carrots and roasties; it made a very fine meal indeed, but I can’t help but feel a bit stuck in a rut.

How do you cook pork in cider? I’d be grateful for the inspiration, so if you have any variations on this theme, please share in the comments.


About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

4 comments on “Three ways: pork in cider

  1. April 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    The first time Jonny cooked pork in cider I think he used a Waitrose recipe and I was immediately hooked! Sadly we’ve never quite got the same caramelly, sticky finish that we got the first time, but I do wonder if that was just rose tinted glasses of that first time. Sigh.
    Janie x
    PS don’t you just hate those drunken memories that almost make you blush all these years later? You’re not alone, we all have them 🙂

    • April 13, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Haha, yes, I have rose-tinted food memories too, it’s a shame the same doesn’t extend to most of my teenage escapades! xx

  2. April 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I cook with cider a lot, and usually with pork, and I have made that Delia recipe you mention, many times, it’s a keeper here at L and L Towers! Another wonderful cider laden post! K xxx

    • April 14, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Such a good recipe, good old Del Gel as we call her in our house x

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