Fun Fact: I can guzzle a lightly chilled bottle of apple juice in one sitting.
Despite my love for apple juice, I never explored the world of ciders. It wasn’t until dating Leann that I started sipping the alcohol version of apple juice. With my limited exposure to the boozy fruit juice, I didn’t know about distinctions between styles of distillation or variations in the amount of sugar.
Leann and I escaped to Michigan for a quick trip before I started my new job. The area surrounding Holland, Michigan, offers the perfect amount of activities for a weekend. After a few Google searches for “Things to do in Holland” we compiled our own list. I’ll post our guide as soon as I can decide which pictures to share.
High on our list was visiting Virtue Cider in Fennville. They have a treasure trove of info on their site showing how cider is made. But I’ve never been one for reading. I’m more of a visual and experiential learner. Plus, it’s a real farm with pigs! So, Leann and I reached out to setup a tour (I highly suggest you do the same). It was a roaster of a day when we visited the farm. Thankfully, Virtue had plenty of beverages to curb the heat.
I’ll write more about the tour experience later, but while there, we chatted with the staff to learn about different ways to cook with cider. Did I mention they have pigs? And apples. Nearly a month later, Leann and I opened the mini growler of Percheron cider to braise pork loin.
If you haven’t had Virtue’s cider (or cider from companies that don’t primarily make beer), there are a lot of differences. Cider can taste and function very much like white wines. Super sugary ciders wouldn’t be utilized in the same way as a more crisp/dry cider.
This cider recipe should serve as a Bachelor Basic and is good if you have a few people over for a sit down dinner. None of the techniques are difficult and the payoff for braising is huge.
What you need to braise pork
- Pork loin (if 3-4 people aim for 3 pounds)
- 3-4 Cups Cider
- 1 Onion, quartered
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 4 Tomatillos, rinsed and quartered)
- 2 Apples, quartered
- ~2 Cups Water
5-Step Cider Pork Braise Process
- Heat a dutch oven or large baking vessel. Add olive oil and tablespoon of butter.
- Sear the meat. Aiming for a bit of color on each side of the pork loin. This creates a crust and seals in the flavor.
- Add in onions, stir occasionally for a few minutes. Add tomatillos, apples, garlic. Cook these for about 4-5 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if there are brown bits forming on the bottom of your pan. Those will come up when we add fluids.
- Add cider and water. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden or metal spoon. (Depending on your pan, wood is your safe bet for not ruining your pans.)
- Bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
We served ours with mashed potatoes and garlic green beans. The apples and cider imparted a fruity flavor to the pork. This was likely more from the sweet apples we added than the cider, which was more dry than fruity. The gravy created had a decent amount of body/thickness even though I didn’t add any thickeners. The tomatillos added a bright and tart note to the dish that was balanced by the more savory onion and garlic.
*I cannot chug a gallon of chilled cider.