Pork Apple Cider Casserole (Porc du Normandy)

Porc du Normandy is a comforting stew made with the region’s bounties- specifically pork, apple cider, cream, apple brandy, and walnuts. It is enjoyed year-round and shows-off the region’s flavor profile.

In addition to the many fish and seafood recipes from France’s coastline, Normandy is especially known for use of apples in cooking and drinks like apple cider and its world famous apple brandy, Calvados. Some form of apple is used in dishes throughout the region. Cream and local pork or lamb are often combined to create thick, comforting stews.

Porc du Normandy – Normandy Pork Casserole

True comfort food for chilly winter evenings, this slow cooked recipe takes very little effort to make and is a marvelous combination of meltingly tender pork, smoked bacon, and apple cider. Cooking time can be shortened substantially by using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker as described in the alternate recipe.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French, Normandy, Northwestern France
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Heavy casserole or pot with cover
  • Optional: Instant Pot or pressure cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ lb Pork shoulder
  • 6 oz Smoked bacon, diced
  • 16 oz Frozen pearl onions (or canned)
  • 2 cups Chicken or vegetable stock
  • oz Crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 2 oz Calvados (apple brandy)
  • 1 cup Apple cider
  • 1 Tbsp Cider vinegar
  • 2 oz Butter
  • 2 tsp Dried thyme
  • 4 Apples (Granny Smith), cored and cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp Dried sage
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp Corn starch, mixed with 3 tbsp water (slurry)
  • 2 Celery sticks, diced
  • 2 tsp Coarse grain mustard

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot or any ovenproof deep dish with a cover. Add bacon and cook uncovered until crisp. Transfer bacon to a bowl. Add butter to bacon fat in pot and cook pearl onions until browned on the outside. Using a slotted spoon, transfer browned onions to a bowl. Add pork to pot and brown over high heat.
  • 2. Remove pot from heat once pork has browned and add back onions. Pour Calvados over meat and, using a long lighter or match, light the calvados and let the flame burn down and the alcohol burn off.
  • 3. Put pot back over medium heat and add chopped apple, mustard, celery, thyme, sage, apple cider and stock. Season with ground pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and put in oven for 2 hours.
  • 4. After 2 hours, skim any excess fat from the top and stir in slurry (cornstarch – water mixture) and the cream. Put lid back on and return to oven for another 15 minutes.
  • 5. To serve, remove casserole from oven, stir well and either transfer to a big serving bowl or leave in casserole.

Notes

  • Instead of 2 hour cook in oven, contents may be transferred to a slow cooker/crock pot to cook on High for 6-10 hours. Mix in slurry and cream 15 minutes before serving.
  • For a faster option, transfer contents to an Instant Pot instead of oven to cook. Set for SAUTE and when HOT, perform steps 1 and 2 above in the Instant Pot. After Calvados has burned down, add vegetables and spices from Step 3. Close lid and pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE for 6 minutes, then NATURAL RELEASE for 10 minutes. Remove lid, stir in the slurry and cream. Put lid back on and select WARM until ready to serve.
  • Calvados can be replaced by brandy, if necessary. 

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