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Apple Cider and Fennel Roasted Pork Shoulder

I’m wondering what we did with our pork before it was cooked at a snails pace – long and luxuriously before being pulled into a great big tasty shredded mess of slow cooked goodness. The great thing about this recipe is you can’t get it wrong, just the sort of sentiments we need heading into Christmas and the requirements of putting food on the table. You do need time on your side though as it requires a solid 6 hours in the oven and a few hours before this to dry out (although you can skip this step). You could even put it on the night before and cook it overnight at about 140C if you are the sort who loves a solid bit of pre planning.

My only tip is to ensure you use an apple cider with a good balance of sweetness and acidity. You want it to add to the flavours at play rather than take all the attention like a bully in a schoolyard.

Ingredients

2.5kg pork shoulder, bone in

2 tbsp fennel seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tbsp brown sugar

Pinch sea salt flakes

600ml cheeky rascal apple cider

600ml chicken stock

4 apples, halved, cored

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled, bruised

Apple slaw

2 green apples, slices on a mandolin

Bunch mint leaves, coarsely torn

2 Fennel bulbs, sliced on a mandolin

1 red onion, sliced on a mandolin

Juice of 1 lemon

Method

Dry-roast the fennel, coriander and mustard seeds in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Crush in a mortar and pestle. Combine with the brown sugar and salt and massage into the pork skin. Refrigerate, uncovered, for the flavours to develop – at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place pork on a rack over a roasting pan, add half the apple cider and half the stock in base and roast until pork starts to colour (30 minutes). Reduce heat to 150C and roast until tender, adding extra cider and stock as required (up to 6 hours). Add the apples and garlic, carefully stir to combine and continue to roast for 30 minutes or until meat is very tender. Set the pork aside to rest, reserve the apples and strain the juices into a saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and reduce for 20 minutes or until a thick sauce consistency. To make the apple slaw, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Prepare just before serving for maximum freshness. Slice/shred/pull the pork and serve with pan juices and roasted apples.

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