Day Twenty Two: Braised Pork with Pears, Apples and Shallots

23 Feb

Continuing on with my love of fruit and pork together, I decided to use up some pears, apples and shallots I happened to have on hand. I believe that pears and pork are such a natural combination. It is kind of a stew, kind of not a stew. It is really just bits of pork braised with some yummy liquids and finished with pears, apples, pancetta and fried shallots. Served over a potato-celery root mash, and this dish was fabulous. The result was comforting and satisfying.

The flavors of this dish are simple, which makes it oh so good. The pancetta adds some saltiness and a nice crispy texture, along with the fried shallots, that contrasts with tender pork. The sauce is sweet, but not overly so, and is perfectly thickened from the melted fruit.

The meal as a whole was fantastic, but obviously the pork braise was the star. I ended up serving a small bowl of a creamy parsnip and carrot soup, scented with ginger, nutmeg and cardamom, topped with Parmesan croutons. This was followed by a salad of red leaf lettuce, toasted almonds, pears and apples, and a dressing made from the oil used to fry the shallots, dijon, apple cider vinegar and minced fresh shallot. For dessert, an almond flour cake with orange, dried nectarines and a scoop of ginger ice cream. YUM.

I realize now that the dish is somewhat similar to Shepherd’s Pie recipe – almost like an upside down version. That frustrated me a bit, but they are different, and not just because the potatoes are on the bottom. The tastes were entirely on their own, despite the similar ingredients. Mostly, the sauces set the dishes apart from each other, perhaps from the addition of flour and butter to one, or the added pears and apple juice to the other. Either way, both are delicious and things I plan on making again….. and again…… and again.

Braised Pork with Pears, Apples and Shallots (serves about 3)

  • 1 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces and trimmed of excess fat
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 shallot – 1/2 chopped and 1/2 sliced thin
  • 1/2 D’Anjou pear, chopped
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 slices pancetta, chopped

In a dutch oven, brown the pancetta over medium-high heat. Remove the pancetta and drain on paper towels; set aside. Add the chopped shallots and garlic to the pan and cook 1 minute, until the garlic begins to brown. Add the pork and brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, scraping up the brown bits at the bottom, until evaporated. Add the pears, apples, herbs, apple juice and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for about 2 to 3 hours, until pork is tender but still holding together.

Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and set aside (its okay to get some of the apple and pear chunks in there too, but try to leave as many as you can in the pan). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Return the pork to the pan.

Meanwhile, fry up thinly sliced shallots in a pan with olive oil.

To serve, spoon pork and sauce onto a plate (or on mashed potatoes) and top with crisped pancetta and fried shallots.

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