By Jill Lightner
Photography by Amy Johnson
Cider, like food, should taste like where it comes from—which is why we combed North America from coast to coast, sourcing recipes from chefs who understand a sense of place. This is one of five chefs who offered up the menu items for the winter and spring season that not only highlight where they come from, but ciders from their own backyards.
McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks sources old-fashioned apples from the Yadkin Valley, North Carolina’s first American Viticultural Area for wine that now represents cider. The winery-cidery collaboration’s sole cider offering is a perfect pairing with cider-braised pulled pork sandwiches.
Cider-Braised Pork Sandwiches
Adapted from Chef/Owner Andrea Reusing of Lantern Restaurant, Chapel Hill, NC
Makes 10 cups pulled pork
5-pound boneless pork shoulder, room temperature
3-4 garlic cloves cut into slivers, plus one head of garlic, unpeeled & halved cross-wise
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tart apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
3 cups cider
Slider or burger buns
Slaw and barbecue sauce, optional, for garnish
Preheat oven to 300° F. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut 10-12 slits into pork roast and insert garlic slivers. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Tie meat with kitchen twine to hold together, if necessary, to keep in a compact, uniform shape.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, sear pork roast on all sides. Remove roast and set aside.
Lower heat to medium. Add onions, carrots and apples. Sauté for about 5 minutes until vegetables and fruit are lightly browned. Add both ciders and garlic halves. Bring to a simmer and return pork to the pan. Cover, place pot in the oven and cook until tender, about 30 minutes per pound. Flip roast in the pan halfway through cooking, to keep it evenly moist. Remove roast and discard vegetables from cooking liquid, reserving liquid. Rest the meat on a platter for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, reduce the cooking liquid to about two cups on the stovetop. Shred the pork with two forks and return it to the reduced liquid. Pile on buns and garnish with slaw and sauce of your choice.