Now that we’ve had our first autumnal storm, it’t time for slow-cooked soups and stews. Yum! One of my favorite times of year.
This recipe for slow-cooked pork and apples reminds me of childhood dinners of pork chops and apple sauce. Since one of my grandmothers was of Pennsylvania German descent, there was also sauerkraut on the table. Both the apple sauce and sauerkraut, naturally, were homemade. I’ve left out the sauerkraut here, although it would make a nice addition. An experiment for another time, I think.
Although I do own a crockpot, most of my slow cooking is done in a dome lidded clay pot. I received this pot as a gift from friends who regularly travel by car across Europe to Greece, buying wine, interesting food items and cooking apparatus along the way. The clay pot was made by a potter who lives in a rural village outside of Thessaloniki, Greece. Not many years ago we visited him and his workshop. He is a very modest man, but it was clear that he prides himself on producing a repertoire of traditional Balkan shapes. I feel honored to have one of his pots.
My clay pot, glazed on the inside, unglazed out, is what our Croatian friends call a “peka”. It is an old-fashioned way of roasting meat on charcoal under a bell-shaped lid, though most pekas I’ve seen in Croatia have been made of metal. It is not unlike an unglazed Romertof that needs to be soaked before use.
Slow-cooked Pork & Apples
Inspired by a recipe from the doyenne of British cooking, Delia Smith. Modified specifically for slow-cooking.
- 4 lbs pork shoulder steaks
- 4 tart apples such as Braeburn or Macintosh
- 2 large shallots
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea Salt & freshly ground pepper
- A few pinches of dried thyme
- 1/2 cup cider
- 1 lb. small waxy potatoes (optional)
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of your clay pot. If you do not own a clay pot, use a Romertof or an earthenware casserole with a tight fitting lid.
Core and peel your apples, quartering them and slicing them into small pieces. Finely chop the shallots. Spread apples and shallots in the bottom of your pot.
Cut excess fat and sinew from the meat. Pork shoulder is a flavor-rich meat, a cheaper tougher cut which makes it perfect for slow cooking. Layer the meat on top of the apples and shallots, pour on the cider. Cider in Britain is an alcoholic beverage, generally clear and can sometimes be slightly sparkling. If you cannot get cider, use clear unsweetened apple juice. Please note you will not need a lot of liquid as more will be produced in the cooking.
Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a few pinches of dried thyme and drizzle over a little more olive oil. Cover with the dome lid and place in oven. Cook for 6-7 hours total. If you want to add potatoes, cut them into rough chunks and add to the pot about 2 hours before the finish. Place them around the periphery, basting with some of the liquid before replacing the lid and returning it to the oven.
You will drive your family crazy with the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen. Do not be tempted to peek – it is best left covered, undisturbed.
I have not tried this in my crockpot, although I assume it will work equally well. If you would like to use a crockpot, please check for appropriate settings and cooking time in your crockpot handbook. They may differ from the instructions above.
- Pork Chops and Sauerkraut (everydayfamilyfavorites.wordpress.com)
- Pulled Pork Slow cook in crock-pot (thecookoff.co.uk)
- Apple and mustard pork casserole (countrylivinged.com)
- Apple Cider Braised Pork Loin (likesaltandpepper.wordpress.com)