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Playing Braised Pork with Fennel, Apples and Onions


  • 1 3-pound pork shoulder/butt or 2 pieces 1 1/2 pounds each
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/3 palmful
  • 1 teaspoon each granulated onion and garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Olive oil, for liberal drizzling
  • About 1/3 cup Calvados or apple brandy
  • 1 large bub fennel, very thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, very thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • A handful parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cloudy cider
  • 1 cup crisp, fruity white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apples, cut into 6 wedges each
  • A few tablespoons Dijon mustard, to finish sauce


Rub shoulder with salt, pepper, fennel seed, cumin, granulated garlic and onion, thyme, citrus zest and a couple drizzles of olive oil. Wrap and chill for a few hours or overnight. 
Preheat oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower third of oven.

Heat Dutch oven over medium high heat with a drizzle of oil. Add the pork and brown evenly on all sides. Remove pork and deglaze the pan with Calvados then add fennel, onion, garlic and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Add cider, wine and stock then place pork on top. When liquid bubbles, cover and place in oven and braise for 3 1/2 hours.

Remove pork to platter and cover. Add apples to sauce and cover. Cook 8-10 minutes to tender-crisp and stir in Dijon. Shred or slice pork and combine with sauce.

Serve pork with apples in bed of polenta.