Well Dined

23Mar/120

Braised Pork with Apricots

I bought a huge 10 lb pork shoulder at the store a while back when I was making pulled pork - it was the only pork shoulder available in the whole store!  So I took it home, butchered it and cut it into three sections and froze two of them.  I used one of the sections to make yummy carnitas, but I wanted to do something new with the last piece.  That is where my Essentials of Slow Cooking cookbook came in handy, and I found this recipe for pork that is slow simmered in broth and orange juice with apricots, thyme, and mustard for a sweet and savory treat.

Start by coating the pork in seasoned flour and browning in oil, then set aside.  Saute onion and garlic, then add in chicken broth and place the pork on top of the mixture.  I didn't think of it at the time, but it wouldn't hurt to add a little white wine.

Add in dried apricots, orange juice, and thyme (I used whole sprigs and pulled them out later) and cook for 2-3 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low, then add Dijon mustard.  The original recipe called for pork loin, which was then sliced and served with the sauce as a gravy of sorts.  I used the fattier shoulder cut, which falls apart when slow cooked, so I stirred everything together and made a sort of stew that I served over rice.  Jasper and I both really liked it that way, so I have made adjustments to the recipe accordingly.

Braised Pork with Apricots
adapted from Williams Sonoma
serves 4-6

1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 boneless pork shoulder (3 lbs)
2 tbsp canola oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
a few springs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp Dijon mustard

On a plate, stir together the flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Turn the pork in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.  In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pork and cook, turning frequently, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the fat in the pan. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Pour in the broth and deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom.

Stove-top method: Transfer the pork to a Dutch oven and pour in the broth mixture. Add the apricots, orange juice and thyme. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the pork is very tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 140°F, about 1 1/2 hours.

Slow-cooker method: Transfer the pork to a slow cooker and pour in the broth mixture. Add the apricots, orange juice and thyme. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 4 to 6 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the pork is very tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 140°F.

Using a large, shallow spoon or a ladle, skim as much fat as possible from the surface of the cooking liquid. Add the mustard and stir the mixture, breaking up/shredding the meat. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice.

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