THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY
ALDI, who I’m so excited to partner & share with you all throughout 2021. With gorgeous seasonal produce & high-quality staples, ALDI is my favorite place to shop for cozy fall meals! All thoughts & opinions are my own.
Slowly Simmered Autumnal Goodness – Cider Braised Pork Shoulder!
I’m a steadfast believer that autumn is the best time of year, especially as someone who loves food. After all, it’s pretty hard to beat gorgeous fall produce & richly cozy comfort food!
This Apple Cider Braised Pork is inspired by one of the most classic fall comfort food meals, pork chops and apples. To put my own stamp on it & make it even more cozy & comforting, I swapped pork chops with pork shoulder (whose richness makes for an even better pairing with the sweetness of apples & apple cider, IMO!) & replaced the traditional quick pan fry with a long, slow braise.
The result? Truly the best fall meal I could ever dream up!
The slowly simmered pork shoulder is fall-apart tender, taking on sweet tanginess from the apple cider braising liquid. Plus, it’s a pretty all-purpose recipe! You can use the pork to make the most epic fall sandwiches for a tailgate or game day, or you can spoon it over egg noodles or whipped butternut squash (pictured) for the ultimate cozy fall dinner.
Best yet, everything you need to make it is available at ALDI! I love shopping at ALDI, especially throughout the fall months. Their assortment of fall products is seriously unmatched, with everything from the most affordable roasts (that always stay so juicy & tender!) to gorgeous high-quality seasonal items (hellooooo apples, squash, & fresh apple cider!).
Apple Cider Braised Pork Recipe Highlights
You’ll love this cider braised pork because it’s (click for shortcuts within this post!)…
- COZY, COMFORT FOOD GOODNESS. Pork shoulder slowly simmers in a tangy-sweet cider sauce with fall apples until fall-apart tender. A rich, comforting dinner that takes ‘pork and apples’ to the next level!
- SERIOUSLY SIMPLE TO MAKE. A one-pot recipe made with 8 simple ingredients, a mix of seasonal fall ingredients & pantry staples that you probably already have on hand. Plus, the majority of the cook time is completely inactive!
- A VERSATILE FALL MEAL. You can serve the braised pork on sandwiches, with pasta, or alongside your favorite fall sides, like an easy-to-make whipped roasted garlic butternut squash that cooks right alongside the braised pork.
A new cozy season fave! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Apple Cider Braised Pork recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
Cider Braised Pork Shoulder Key Ingredients
One of the things to love most about this cider braised pork recipe is that it calls for a very straightforward list of ingredients. The combination of a couple of seasonal ingredients & some simple pantry staples creates a rich & flavorful fall meal. Plus, everything you need – from the pork butt roast to the apple cider – is a quick ALDI run away. Easy!
Note: Full Ingredients List, including measurements, is included in the Recipe Card, below.
Here’s what you’ll need…
- Boneless Pork Shoulder – Of course! Pork shoulder is also commonly referred to as Boston Butt or Pork Butt. One of my favorite things to buy at ALDI are their half pork butt roasts, which are affordable, flavorful, & stay completely juicy throughout a long braise. Be sure to look for a meaty roast with nice marbling for maximum flavor!
- Apple Cider – Another star ingredient for cider braised pork. While the difference between apple cider & apple juice is nuanced, generally speaking the safest bet for a recipe like this is to opt for cider, which tends to be a little less sweet than apple juice. One of my favorite fall products at ALDI every year is their Nature’s Nectar Apple Cider. It’s made with 100% apple juice & contains no added sugar. (Note: Don’t mistake apple cider for hard cider – non-alcoholic apple cider yields best results in this recipe!)
- Fresh produce – Just a few simple staples like garlic, which is studded into the pork to season the meat from the inside out as it slowly cooks, & onion & apples, which braise alongside the pork to add depth of flavor. For best results, use firm apples with tart flavor – Granny Smith, Pink Lady, & Honeycrisp apples are great options for this recipe!
- Pantry Staples – Namely, Simply Nature Organic Apple Cider Vinegar & Burman’s Dijon mustard, which add tanginess to offset the sweetness of the cider, & Simply Nature Organic Chicken Broth to balance out the braising liquid.
How to Braise Pork Shoulder:
Quick Cooking 101 – What does it mean to braise pork?
If you’ve never braised anything before, don’t be intimidated! It’s a simple cooking method that involves slowly simmering an ingredient to create bold, rich flavor. Because it most often involves cooking ‘low & slow,’ braising lends itself especially well to tougher cuts of meat that become fall apart tender as they cook, like roasts, ribs, or – in this case – pork shoulder!
Braised pork shoulder is one of my all-time favorite things to cook. Once you try it, you’ll understand why! It’s a nearly completely inactive one-pot operation that results in a restaurant-worthy rich & flavorful meal every single time. This cider braised pork shoulder is no exception – it’s seriously easy to throw together.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
How to make Apple Cider Braised Pork:
- First, prepare the pork: Cut the pork butt roast into a couple of large pieces, then use a paring knife to stud it with garlic. Why? ⇢ Braising a few large pieces goes a little faster than braising a whole roast – it’s an easy way to cut down the cook time. By studding the pork shoulder, the garlic flavors the meat from the inside out. It nearly melts away as the pork cooks – one of my favorite braising secrets!
- Next, sear: Heat a little bit of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Once it’s hot, add the pork shoulder, cooking a few minutes per side. Why? ⇢ Searing facilitates the Maillard reaction, a chemical process in cooking that results in a glorious golden brown crust being formed on whatever is being seared. This browning translates to braised pork with especially deep, rich flavor.
- Finally, braise: Whisk together a quick braising liquid made of apple cider, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, & chicken stock. Once all of the pork is browned, carefully pour the apple cider braising liquid into the pot with the pork. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot, transfer to the oven, & allow the pork to slowly cook until it’s fall apart tender. Just before the pork is ready, add in thinly sliced onion & apple wedges, & braise for 20-30 minutes longer. Why? ⇢ Hearty pork shoulder requires a much longer cook time than delicate ingredients like onions & apples. In waiting to add them to the pot until just before the pork is ready, you ensure the apples & onions soften perfectly while the pork finishes cooking without disintegrating completely.
Braised Pork FAQs & Alternate Cooking Methods:
- How long to braise pork shoulder? ⇢ Braised pork shoulder is ready once the pork is fall-apart tender & easily shreds with a fork, which takes 2 1/2 – 3 hours in a 325 degree F oven. Rather than targeting a precise internal temperature, use your eyes to gage whether the pork shreds easily enough. If it still seems even slightly tough, let it braise for 15-20 minutes longer – trust me, you’ll know when it’s ready!
- Can I make this cider braised pork in a slow cooker? ⇢ Yes, this recipe is incredibly slow cooker-friendly! Brown as described so you don’t compromise flavor, then transfer to a slow cooker to cook low & slow. Full slow cooker cider braised pork instructions are detailed in the Recipe Card, below.
- Can I make this cider braised pork in an electric pressure cooker? ⇢ Yes! Between braising, slow cooking & pressure cooking, an electric pressure cooker is my least favorite way to prepare this cider braised pork recipe. It’s quickness is convenient, but you do sacrifice some flavor. Nonetheless, if that’s what your schedule allows for, you can definitely do it! Full electric pressure cooker cider braised pork instructions are also detailed in the Recipe Card, below.
What Goes with Cider Braised Pork? Serving Suggestions + Other Tips & Tricks
Once it’s braised & shredded, your pork is ready to be served! One of the fun things about this cider braised pork shoulder recipe is how versatile it is. You can pile the pork & braise-y apples + onions on buns with a quick slaw & your BBQ sauce of choice for the ultimate fall-inspired pulled pork sandwich. It’s also really amazing served over pasta, like egg noodles or spatzle.
Easy Fall Side Dish – Whipped Butternut Squash with Roasted Garlic
My personal favorite way to serve this apple cider braised pork, though, is alongside a cozy autumnal side, like whipped roasted garlic butternut squash. It adds such a restaurant-worthy quality to the meal with hardly any extra effort required.
Whipped Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash! ⇢ With the oven already on for the braised pork, this whipped butternut squash is such an effortless side dish to add to your meal. Slice a whole butternut squash lengthwise into halves or quarters, pop it on a sheet pan with a whole head of garlic, & let them slowly cook alongside the pork. Once the pork is finished braising, the butternut squash & garlic will also be very tender. Simply transfer to a food processor with a little bit of butter & puree until smooth. Pretty easy!
Next time you’re in the mood for a cozy & comforting fall meal, try this Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder. It’s one of our fall favorites, & I know you will love it just as much as we do! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
More Recipes Like This:
Cozy Fall Flavors
Rich, flavorful pork shoulder is studded with garlic & cooked low & slow with onions, apples, & a tangy apple cider braising liquid until succulent & completely fall-apart tender. Served alongside easy roasted garlic whipped butternut squash, this Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder is the ultimate fall comfort food meal!
- 3–4 pounds boneless half pork butt roast, cut into 3–4 large pieces
- 8–10 cloves garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons Simply Nature Grapeseed Oil
- 1 1/2 cups Nature’s Nectar Apple Cider
- 1/2 cup Simply Nature Organic Chicken Broth
- 1/4 cup Simply Nature Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Burman’s Dijon Mustard
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, & cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
for the roasted garlic whipped butternut squash:
- 1 small butternut squash (roughly 2 pounds), quartered lengthwise & deseeded
- 1 head garlic
- 1 teaspoon Simply Nature Grapeseed Oil
- 2–3 tablespoons Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, cut into tablespoons
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Gather ingredients, prepping & measuring according to the Ingredients List, above.
- Stud the pork with garlic: Using a sharp paring knife, carefully cut a few deep slits into each piece of pork shoulder, then insert sliced garlic into each pocket. Generously season the pork with 1 tablespoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired.
- Sear the pork: Add the grapeseed oil to a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-safe pot with a lid over medium-high heat (I use a 4-qt Dutch oven). Once the oil is hot & shimmering, carefully add in the prepared pork. Work in batches, as needed, to avoid overcrowding the pot (which prevents browning). Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until deeply browned.
- Braise the cider pork: Add the apple cider, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, & Dijon mustard to a large liquid measuring cup or bowl, whisking to combine. Carefully pour the apple cider brining liquid into the pot with the pork. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot & transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until the cider braised pork is fall-apart tender. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to shred the pork, remove the pot from the oven & stir in the sliced onion & apples. Cover & return to the oven for 20-25 minutes, just until the onions & apples are softened.
- Optional: Roast butternut squash & garlic: If preparing the whipped roasted garlic butternut squash, place the squash on a small sheet pan. Chop just the top off of the head of garlic, revealing its cloves. Lightly rub the garlic to loosen and remove any excess paper. Wrap the garlic in foil, lightly drizzling with oil & seasoning with a pinch kosher salt & ground black pepper before you seal the foil, completely encasing the garlic in foil. Set the foil-wrapped garlic on the sheet pan with the butternut squash. Transfer to the oven to bake alongside the apple cider braised pork for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, or until the squash is very tender. (Note: The garlic will roast in about 45 minutes, so set a timer to remove from the oven at that point!)
- Optional: Whipped roasted garlic butternut squash: Once the squash is very tender, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Carefully scoop the squash into a food processor. Add in the roasted garlic cloves (the cloves should squeeze out of the head very easily) & butter. Run the food processor until the mixture is smooth & creamy. If needed, pour in a splash of chicken broth to loosen up the mixture as needed to reach desired consistency. Stir kosher salt & ground black pepper, to taste – I start with 1/2 teaspoon & go from there.
- Finish the cider braised pork: Once the pork is tender, remove the pot from the oven. Carefully transfer the pork to a plate or cutting board. Use tongs or 2 forks to shred the pork into bite-sized pieces.
- Serve: Spoon the whipped roasted garlic butternut squash over a plate. Top with cider braised pork, softened apples & onions, & braising jus as desired. Enjoy!
- Other serving ideas: My favorite way to serve this apple cider braised pork is with the whipped roasted garlic butternut squash detailed in the Recipe Directions, above. It also makes fantastic pulled pork sandwiches, piled high with the braise-y apples, onions, a quick slaw, & your BBQ sauce of choice –the Burman’s Regional Style BBQ Sauces from ALDI are fantastic. You could also serve this braised pork with its braising liquid over pasta, such as egg noodles or spatzle – yum!
- Storage, Reheating, & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: This cider braised pork stores incredibly well! Transfer cooled pork to an airtight container with the braising liquid & braise-y apples & onions. Store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave & serve as desired.
- Freezing Instructions: This cider braised pork is also incredibly freezer-friendly. To freeze, transfer cooled cider pork, braising liquid, & braised apples & onions to a freezer container or divide between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen cider pork in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave & serve as desired.
- Alternate cooking methods:
- Slow Cooker Apple Cider Braised Pork: Prep the recipe according to Steps 2-5, above, assembling the cider braised pork in your slow cooker or Crockpot. Slow cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours until the pork is fall-apart tender. Complete the recipe according to Step 8, above, & serve. If your slow cooker has a searing/browning feature, you can use it to cook this entire cider braised pork recipe (Steps 2-5, 8) in the slow cooker.
- Electric Pressure Cooker Apple Cider Braised Pork: Use your electric pressure cooker’s “Sauté” setting to cook the recipe according to Steps 2-5, above. Cover & seal the pressure cooker. Cook on manual high pressure for 50 minutes. Allow the pressure cooker to naturally release pressure for 15 minutes before carefully flicking the valve to its “venting” position to vent out any residual pressure. Finish as directed in Step 8.
Keywords: apple cider braised pork, pulled pork, braised apples, oven braised, slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, gluten-free, dairy-free, comfort food recipes
Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.