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Pork Shoulder Braised in Apple Cider, Honey, Fennel, Fresh Herbs and Spices

The thought of a succulent piece of pork shoulder, slowly braised in honey and apple cider, that falls apart on the fork is bliss! The pork’s natural fat yields a lot of flavour and also retains the moisture within the meat. If unavailable, a good substitute to shoulder is belly. Make it memorable and serve the pork with mashed potatoes mixed with mustard and steamed green vegetables. Serves 6.

1.5kg pork shoulder, cut into fist sized pieces
4tlb olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 small fennel, sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1tlb rosemary, roughly chopped
2tsp fennel seeds, whole
½ tsp coriander seeds, whole
2tlb full flavoured honey
1 cup apple cider
chicken stock
salt & freshly ground black pepper to season
juice of ½ lemon

Preheat oven to 150 degrees.

Choose a cast iron pot with a tight fitting lid big enough to fit the meat snugly. Place pot on the stove top, pour in the olive oil and heat. Season pork with salt and pepper then brown on both sides. Transfer pork to a plate and set aside.

Add the onion to the pot and cook until softened. Next, add carrots and cook for a few minutes then add the fennel, garlic, rosemary and fennel seeds and cook for a further five minutes. Stir in the honey and let it bubble up for a minute. Place the pork on top of the vegetables. Pour in the cider and enough stock to reach halfway up the sides of the pork. Bring to boil, cover with the lid then place in oven. Cook for about 2 ½  hours or until the pork is very tender.

Remove the pot from the oven and place on the stove. Transfer pork to a plate and cover. Turn oven down to very low and return pork to oven to stay warm. Add lemon juice to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for five or so minutes or until consistency is lightly syrupy. Adjust the flavour with extra honey, lemon or salt. It should be a balance between sweet/salty/sour.

Serve the pork dribbled with the vegetables and sauce.

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