Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onion and Apple Confit

By • November 16, 2009 • 30 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a perfect autumnal dinner. Cider, caramelized onions and apples combine with pork for a rich, sweet and comforting one pot meal. Calvados brandy and Dijon mustard add extra depth and sharpness with a nod to the French countryside in this hearty dish. I like to serve this with Celery Root and Parsnip Purée. TasteFood

Food52 Review: What this pork dish lacks in beauty it makes up for generously in flavor. You braise succulent pork shoulder in a thick stew of onions, apples, cider and Calvados. All it takes is a little browning of the meat and softening of the vegetables and then you can slide it into the oven, where over an hour or two, the onions mellow and the apple flavors brighten. Out of the oven, you add a dose of mustard for punch, then tell everyone to hurry to table – you won’t want to wait. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4

  • 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder (butt) - boneless and tied
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large yellow onions, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Calvados brandy
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, cut in 1/2" cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Pat the pork dry and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in a large oven-proof pot or Dutch oven with a lid. Brown pork on all sides, turning with tongs, 6-8 minutes per side. Transfer pork to plate.
  4. Pour off excess fat from pot. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft ad deep golden brown, 18-20 minutes.
  5. Add Calvados and stir to deglaze pan. Add apple, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  6. Return pork to pot, nestling it down in the onions. Add cider and chicken stock. Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce heat to 325 F. Braise until meat is very tender, 2 1/2 - 3 hours.
  7. Return pot to cooktop. Transfer pork to a cutting board and remove kitchen strings. Boil onion and apples until thickened and liquid slightly reduced, 1-2 minutes. Stir in mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Cut pork in serving pieces and arrange on serving platter or individual dinner plates. Spoon onion apple confit over and around the meat.

Tags: comfort food, Entrees, fall, family, pork

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Comments (30) Questions (1)


2 months ago Robert P. Battersby

I am glad you mentioned having this dish with the Celery Root and Parsnip Puree. I am going to fix the pork this weekend (barring bad weather) but, I tried the Puree last night and it was great! Thanks.


3 months ago Tina Miller

This is a great recipe! I didn't have Calvados so used Madeira to deglaze the pan. I'll be repeating this one for sure. I served it with mashed turnips and celery root and roast green beans.


5 months ago Cristina Sciarra

I made this tonight for a little dinner party, and it was such a hit. The pork was fork tender, and the sauce so flavorful. Everyone commented on how much they loved it. I served the pork alongside thyme-and-garlic roasted potatoes. I'll definitely make this again, and next time, I'll make enough for next-day sandwich leftovers!


9 months ago julie

I tried this and it was sensational. I will have to increase the quantity and am undecided as to how to prepare the meat. Am I best to have four pieces each weighing 2 1/2 lb to ensure even cooking or could I go with two 5lb pieces. I will cook all together in a covered roasting pan - will I need to increase the time for cooking? I'm getting a bit worried about oven space and getting everything ready on time for 20 guests. Thanks for any help.


9 months ago TasteFood

If your roasting pan is large enough, then I would use 3-4 (2.5-3 pound) pieces of pork. The roasting time will be about the same - just check before removing that the meat is fork tender.


10 months ago julie

I'm making this for a special birthday and wondered if you think twice baked potatoes would be ok to accompany it. I'm cooking for 20 and will struggle keeping everything hot so they looked like a good choice. Any thoughts please?


10 months ago TasteFood

I think they would be a great accompaniment!


10 months ago CarlaCooks

I agree, any kind of potatoes is good with this. I have served it with both boiled potatoes and mashed potatoes. A little trick for mashed potatoes for a large crowd: you can make the mashed potatoes earlier in the day and keep them warm and ready in your crockpot (on the 'keep warm' setting). Just stir in some butter and milk before serving.


about 1 year ago tjrf915

this was DELICIOUS. Made it last night for two friends and it was a huge success. I served it with creamy stovetop polenta and roasted asparagus. The meat is easy because you can just leave it to do it's magic in the oven. Highly recommended.


about 1 year ago cosmicbeekeeper

I love this recipe. I live in the land of wonderful local hard ciders, so I used some of that instead of the brandy and regular cider. It was delicious. I am looking forward to leftovers today. Thank you!


over 1 year ago Sabine Gagnon

I made this last night and it came out outstanding! I served it atop my vanilla bean mashed potatoes. I, too, added cabbage right after the onions were done sautéing. I loved that addition. I'll definitely be making this again in the future. Thank you so much for sharing!


over 1 year ago CarlaCooks

I made this for a dinner party last night and it received rave reviews! The flavors are so well balanced: sweet, savory, and rich. Because I was feeding 7 people, I used a cut closer to 4 pounds. I doubled the onions, apples, and garlic, though only used 1.5 x the liquid (I was afraid of the liquid overflowing from my dutch oven). I didn't have any Calvados, so I used cognac. I had it in the oven for about 5 hours and it came out perfect! For serving, I partially shredded the meat, put it on a platter, and spooned the confit/sauce over it. Thanks for a lovely dish, TasteFood!


over 1 year ago TasteFood

I'm so happy you enjoyed this. You've reminded me to make this recipe again - soon!


over 2 years ago fatgirleating

good gods! this was totally amazing. i had regular brandy in the house from another dish and used it in place of the calvados and it was delicious. can't wait to make it again


over 2 years ago aviva briskin

I had a 6 lbs pork shoulder . Cooking time was 5 hours at 325 F .
I added a whole cabbage right after sautéing the onions to make it even more
of a fall dinner .
it melts in your mouth !


about 3 years ago Kimbees54

Made this tonight. What a terrificly easy way to cook down some pork shoulder.


over 3 years ago Brenzo

Made this for supper tonight - turned out amazingly!
I was so pleasantly surprised at just how tender the pork shoulder became. And the confit was the bomb.
All in all, a hit. My husband was so pleased.
I should have bought a bigger bottle of brandy.


over 3 years ago Tbird

Okay, I have 4 friends coming over for dinner tomorrow night and they've asked me to cook. It's going to be a beautiful Fall weekend, and unfortunately I don't have time to Brine anything - but luckily I found this recipe and I'm going for it. Will serve a side of SallyCan's Cauliflower and Parsnip Puree with Calvados Shallots.

Question: Think it's overkill with the Calvados in both recipes?


about 5 years ago Lizthechef

Your recipe looks superb -


about 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I made this over the weekend. It's divine! My onions must have been unusually juicy because my "confit" was like soup .. . . I should have removed the vegetables before reducing the sauce, as turning the heat up on the onions and apples just released more juice. It was, however, delicious. And so, so easy. Love it!! ;o)


about 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'm making this for Mr. T. for his birthday this weekend . . . with the divine turnip and potato concoction posted by Maria Teresa Jorge this morning . . . and some roasted Brussels sprouts using Tad's method. I simply cannot wait to try this recipe. And yes, with either Mr. T's Pecan Pie (my recipe, posted right after Christmas) or Feeding the Saints' Chocolate Walnut Fig Cake with Grappa and Cardamom Cream (with pecans substituted) submitted for the last contest, it will, indeed be a Food52-only menu for the event!


about 5 years ago TasteFood

what a feast! we'll have to do something similar at our potluck :)


about 5 years ago jifferb

just made this - everyone raved. excellent recipe!


about 5 years ago TasteFood

Thank you - I'm glad you liked it!


over 5 years ago TasteFood

Thank you, everyone, for your comments!


over 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I made this yesterday in the slow cooker, after first searing the meat and caramelizing the onions and apples. It cooked on Low for four hours, then I held it overnight, skimmed the fat, and reheated for dinner this evening. It's a wonderful recipe - heady smells in the kitchen all day And it holds up beautifully to reheating, with the flavors deepening overnight.


over 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

What a great idea, to use the slow cooker. This one has been calling out to me. I'm making it the first night that both of my boys are home from school!! Thanks, Mrs W, for the info on make-ahead success. Some things do well when made in advance; others don't. It's so helpful to have the benefit of your experience.


over 1 year ago CarlaCooks

Cathy, I would also like to make this in the slow cooker. I'm not planning on holding it overnight, so do you think I should increase the cooking time by a hour or so?