Cider Braised Pork Cheeks with Caramel Poached Crab Apples

What you’ll need (Serves 6)


2 lbs pork cheeks

1 cup salt

2 cups sugar

1 tbsp black peppercorns

3 onions, medium diced

2 carrots, medium diced

2 fennel heads, medium diced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch thyme

4 cups apple cider

1 cup apple cider vinegar

6 cups chicken stock (enough to cover the cheeks)

1 tsp butter

10 crab apples, (left whole, peeled)

2 cups sugar

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water


Toss pork cheeks with the salt and sugar (dry brine) and let sit for 12 hours, refrigerated. In a pan, brown the meat with a small amount of vegetable oil. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the diced vegetables, parsley, thyme, garlic and black peppercorns to the pan, sauté until soft, deglaze with cider vinegar. Reduce until dry. Do a second deglaze with the apple cider (save about one tbsp for the sauce), reduce by half. Place pork back in and enough chicken stock to just cover the pork. Cartouche (parchment paper lid) the pan and place in 200o F oven for 8 hours. Remove from oven and let cool in its liquid. Remove to sheet pan and let cool completely. Strain and skim the braising liquid, discard vegetables and herbs. Reduce to sauce consistency and add one tbsp. of cider vinegar to balance.


To serve: Heat pork in the reduced sauce with a tsp of butter.


For the apples: In a pot over medium heat, add sugar, melt and cook until you have a golden caramel. Add cider vinegar and water. Cook until all sugar is dissolved. Add apples and orange peel. Simmer until apples are juicy and tender (approximately 30 minutes).


Serve with the pork cheeks or on the side.

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