Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onion and Apple Confit

November 16, 2009

Test Kitchen-Approved

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
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 3 hrs


  • 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder (butt), boneless and tied
  • 2 pinches 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, cut in 1/2-inch 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
In This Recipe


  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.

More Great Recipes:
American|European|French|Meat|Mustard|Pork|Thyme|Onion|Apple|Calvados|Braise|One-Pot Wonders

Reviews (58) Questions (5)

58 Reviews

knittingbaker January 21, 2019
Perfect dish to break in my new Dutch oven (how have I lived so long without one!?). I skipped the lovely but pricey calvados for a cheaper apple brandy and added and additional apple, since I had one more lying around. The pork was good - the confit delicious. Definitely worth the slow braise.
Catherine January 1, 2019
Beautiful dish for New Year's Day. I was very happy with the ease in execution, guests were really impressed with the dish as well. I did it one and a half times for 7 people, and used Apple Jack in place of Calvados.
SCalabretta December 2, 2018
This is a fabulous recipe. Simple and delicious. I served it with egg noodles and garlicky spinach.
Sipa October 27, 2018
Excellent recipe. I'll be making this again and I might add chestnuts to it.
Austin B. October 14, 2018
The pork was good. The confit was amazing, I could've eaten it with a spoon, it was that good.
Consultant W. October 6, 2018
Delicious! I didn’t have any Calvados so I substituted spiced rum. Will definitely make again.
william L. November 7, 2017
cider braised pork shoulder with caramelized onion and apple comfit is mmmmm! so fantastic that my taste buds are still tingling hours after<br />
Roxie Y. November 3, 2017
I made this last weekend and neither of us could stop raving about it. Leftovers were eagerly eaten and we yummed our way through.<br />
Alison November 20, 2016
I made this last weekend, and couldn't stop talking about how good it was--although the title suggests some degree of difficulty ("confit") it really was quite easy. Onions do take a little while to truly caramelize, IMO, so give yourself adequate time for that step. I accidentally wound up with a bone-in shoulder roast of about 3 pounds, but that didn't cause any problems--taste was excellent and the meat fell off the bone for slicing when it was done. I also only had three onions and no granny smiths on hand, so used three onions and two pink lady apples, with a tablespoon of cider vinegar to make up for the apple sweetness (relative to Grannies). Otherwise, as written. It was totally delicious, and I will make it again as soon as Thanksgiving is over...
Justin D. November 14, 2016
Just made this and really enjoyed it! I actually liked it better the next day I think. I would recommend skimming the refrigerated fat off before reheating it. Worked really well.
Laura November 6, 2016
This was excellent! Had a 4 1/2 pound roast so I cut into two and doubled rest of ingredients. Cooked perfectly in 3 hours. Will definitely make again.
dcashore November 6, 2016
I made this today. It's excellent. Low-stress and not fussy. I echo what others have already said about the flavor combination & that it's perfect for a fall/winter dinner. MMMmmm!
Diane October 31, 2016
I made this on Sunday! Amazing, I can't wait to serve it to my friends.
Sauertea October 31, 2016
Made this today!! Amazing!!
Diane October 28, 2016
I want to make this for my recipe group which in the middle of the week. I work late every night. Can I make it on Sunday, and reheat and serve it on Wednesday?
JoanMyers October 23, 2016
Unbelievable! Enjoying this on a blustery autumn Sunday evening and the flavors are so spot on! The combo of sweet of the apple and savory of the onion/ mustard is just sublime! This is a keeper recipe! Thank you!
lgs October 21, 2016
This looks amazing! How would I do this in a slow cooker? Thanks.
lgs October 21, 2016
Oh, just saw the previous comment about slow cooker. Oops.
Nanners October 15, 2016
WOW!!! Made this tonight for my family and they all absolutely loved it! Served it with my favourite mac & cheese recipe -- everyone devoured it. Unfortunately, there will be no leftovers !
Nancy M. October 14, 2016
It's in the oven and I have high hopes, but one day I really want to meet the cook who can caramelize onions in 20 minutes. Maybe that person can also bring about world peace.
CarlaCooks October 15, 2016
Haha, so true! I have started using my pressure cooker to caramelise onions, though it does break down the onions (fine for this recipe or an onion dip, not so great for French onion soup) and it doesn't take long at all.
BocaCindi October 16, 2016
Thanks for bringing up browning onions. Low and slow is 45 minutes for me.
lgs October 21, 2016
I agree!
Bee October 22, 2016
THANK YOU, Nancy Mck, for calling out the ridiculous time quoted on EVERY recipe for caramelized onions!!! When I was a very, very young bride and teaching myself to cook, I took the "10 minutes to caramelize 6 onions" seriously, in a never tried Thanksgiving Day recipe. After 90 minutes, the 6 giant onions were FINALLY done! Since then, I give myself a good 2 hour time to caramelize any quantity of onions...period! LOL This recipe is very very similar to one of the featured recipes at Applebee's: they use pork chops vs. pork shoulder and bourbon instead of Calvados. So, when I made this, I also used a finely aged Boubon and radically increased the quantity of apples, using 16 of them (4 different varieties). It was JUST ENOUGH onion/apple mixture to go with every scrap of pork shoulder...and the addition of the bourbon was to die for! I served it on top of spaetzle with green beans and almonds as a side. Incredible!
riegelhaupt1 October 16, 2015
Making this for a fall birthday party. Do you think it would be better if cooked a day ahead?
lovemcm October 16, 2015
@riegelhaupt1, you can go either way, especially if you don't have a problem with fat content. It is a confit, after all. I will say that if I can make the entree ahead, it makes entertaining less stressful. Your mileage may vary.
aviva B. October 16, 2015
Yes I would make it ahead if possible . Make sure to separate the meat from the confit so you can take some of the fat off. The flavors do build up and you will get even more flavor out of it !