A lovely slow cooked or crock pot recipe for tender chunks of pork cooked in cider with apples, shallots, creme fraiche & calvados. My own recipe devised for our Chambres d'Hotes here in France - and ALWAYS a firm favourite with guests, family & friends alike! It is my daughter's first night request when she comes home from university! You can use any cut of pork, but I usually use shoulder, neck, collar or blade of Pork - there are numerous names for that cut. It's sweeter and inclined to be more tender than Pork leg, which I feel is better roasted. You can also use Pork chops if you wish. If you have difficulty getting hold of cider or don't want to use alcohol, apple juice is just as good, for that appley zing! There is no duplicate for calvados, so just leave it out if you cannot obtain it, or use brandy or cognac instead. This makes a lovely pie filling if you have leftovers and as with most slow cooked recipes, it's very well behaved when re-heated! It goes extremely well with Crock Pot Baked Spiced Red Cabbage With Apples or Pears & mashed potatoes. N.B. I have given amounts for 8-10 people; the recipe can be halved or increased with ease!
- 3 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of fat & cubed
- 4 -6 apples, cored & halved
- 1 1⁄2 lbs shallots, peeled
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 ounces butter
- 1 fluid ounce olive oil
- 1⁄2 pint sweet apple cider
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 6 ounces creme fraiche or 6 ounces sour cream
- 1⁄4 pint chicken stock, thickened
- fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- black pepper
- 1 -2 tablespoon calvados or 1 -2 tablespoon brandy
- Trim the pork of any thick fat. Cut into large cubes of about 4" square or even bigger - it shrinks with cooking & works better with larger pieces of meat.
- Peel the shallots and set to one side.
- Halve & core the apples and set to one side with the shallots.
- Turn the crockpot onto High. Mix the cider, cider apple vinegar, creme fraiche, salt & pepper, thyme & thickened chicken stock together in a large pouring jug & pour into the crockpot.(If using fresh thyme - leave to last.) Add the cored and halved apples and replace the lid whilst you brown the pork & shallots.
- Heat up half the butter & half of the olive oil in a large skillet or wok-type pan, one with fairly high sides.
- As soon as it is smoking but not burning, brown the shallots in batches - you want a deep caramelised colour & the shallots just softened on the outside. When all the shallots have been done, put them all back into the pan - turn up the heat & add the balsamic vinegar and stir briskly making sure all the shallots are well coated.
- Add the shallots & Balsamic vinegar mixture to the crockpot.
- Heat up the remaining butter and oil, adding more if necessary & start to brown the pork pieces, again do not overcrowd the pan - they need to be well coloured & seared to seal in the juices. As the pork pieces are browned, add them to the crockpot.
- When all the pork is browned & added to the crockpot, give all the ingredients a good mix around in the crockpot with a wooden spoon. If using fresh thyme, pick about 4 large sprigs and place on top of the Normandy Pork - the leaves fall off during cooking & leave the bare branches for throwing away!
- Cook on high for between 6 - 10 hours.
- Just before serving, pour in Calvados and mix through. Serve each person with 2 -3 pieces of pork, a cooked apple half & 1 or 2 shallots; add a dollop of creme fraiche on the side & garnish with Thyme & a fresh Apple sliver if desired. Decant the excess sauce into a gravy boat for extra saucy bits!
- Great with spiced red cabbage, fluffy mashed potatoes or pommes Dauphinoise.
- To cook in an conventional oven, follow recipe as above, but cook in a La Creuset type oven proof dish; pre-heat oven to 175 C or 350 F and cook slowly for about 6 hours, checking after 4 hours. It will cook quite happily for up to 8 hours if this helps in your time management, you may have to turn the oven down to about 125 C, 250 F after 4 hours for a long slow 8 hour cooking time.