For as long as I can remember, every New Year’s Day my mom has braised a pork shoulder with sauerkraut in the oven. Over the years, once I left home, I took this endeavor on myself (except for those years in college when I was a vegetarian, of course). I’ve slightly updated the recipe but the heart of it remains the same: you slowly cook a big hunk of pork shoulder in a covered baking dish for hours and hours until it is so fork-tender and meltingly delicious that you can eat it with a spoon.
I’ve also added sautéed onions, chunks of sweet-tart baking apples (I like Gala), and a little hit of chicken stock and apple cider to keep things juicy. Once upon a time I didn’t brown the pork before braising, and you don’t necessarily need to, but it definitely adds more color and flavor to the finished dish. I’d recommend taking the extra time to do this.
Use any kind of sauerkraut you like, but because this cooks so long in the oven, you may not want to splurge on the fancy stuff. I get a big glass jar of the Whole Foods brand sauerkraut, and after cooking along with the pork for so many hours, it becomes a whole different, succulent beast. Softer flavors, less bite, and oh-so-tender. (Of course, if you are wanting to eat sauerkraut for it’s incredible health benefits, this might not be the best way to serve it up. Still, it’s scrumptious!)
Once you pop it in the oven, just sit back, relax and think of what your resolutions might be for this coming year! (Eat more pork? Or maybe a nice long walk before eating all that pork.)
Recipe: Braised Pork Shoulder with Sauerkraut and Apples
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- One 4-lb boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed of excess fat
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
- 2 tart-sweet baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 (32-ounce) jar sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 3/4 cup fresh, unfiltered apple juice or apple cider
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before cooking. Pat the pork dry with paper towels then season generously with salt and pepper.
- In a Dutch oven large enough to fit the roast, warm the oil over medium-high heat on the stovetop.
- Sear the roast on all sides until well browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the onion and cook until starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add the apples and sauerkraut and stir to mix. Nestle the roast in the center. Pour in the stock and cider.
- Cover and bake until the pork is meltingly tender, about 4 hours, checking it every so often and stirring the sauerkraut mixture and turning the pork.
- Transfer the roast to a warm serving platter. Using a large spoon, transfer the sauerkraut mixture to the platter, mounding it around the roast. Slice or serve chunks of the meat with the sauerkraut mixture while hot.