The Autumnal Ingredient You Should Be Using To Braise Pork

Cooking is the art of transformation. With the magical powers of heat and seasoning, we can create something that looks, smells, and tastes nothing like the hodgepodge of raw ingredients we started with. There may be no means of cooking more transformative than braising, which can make even the toughest cuts of meat tender and unctuous. It is a two-step process, MasterClass points out, which begins by searing a piece of meat and then simmering it low and slow in a liquid bath.

Braising is most useful when dealing with tough cuts of meat that contain a lot of connective tissue and collagen. For example, MasterClass cites beef brisket as a cut that's perfect for braising, and it's a great method for many cuts of pork, such as the shoulder, butt, and ribs. But braising isn't just about tenderizing the meat. During the slow cooking process, all of that collagen and connective tissue turns into gelatin, which mingles with the liquid to create a silky and intensely-flavored gravy. As such, the liquid you choose for braising has a tremendous impact on the final dish, and it's always nice when you can use a seasonal one to achieve it.

Cider, cider everywhere, but not a drop to drink

If the 21st century had not brought us an annual onslaught of pumpkin spice lattes, we'd probably be talking about apple cider as the signature autumn beverage since it warms you from the inside out with a classic fall flavor. You might not think of apples as seasonal since you can find them in stores year-round now, but Delish notes that these fruits reach their peak between late summer and late fall. No wonder apple pie is a Thanksgiving staple. While cider is lovely to drink, it has other uses as well, including as a braising liquid.

Pork and apples are actually quite a traditional pairing. Think of all the images you've seen of roasted pigs with an apple shoved in their mouth. Brooklyn Homemaker notes that centuries ago, before sugar was available to the masses, it was common to serve savory items like pork alongside sweet fruit dishes. Way back in 1747, Hannah Glasse included a recipe for Cheshire Pie in her seminal book, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, which is filled with pork loin and a layer of pippins, which is a term for tart apples well suited for baking. It might not be what you expected, but a pork and cider braise is truly a match made in culinary heaven.