Friday, August 9, 2013

Nanking Cherry and Apple braised pork shoulder in a cherry cream sauce

My baby eating a baby sized
apple from my father's backyard. 
Sorry for the hiatus.  It's been a while. :) Motherhood has been busy, but enough of excuses. To be honest, life has been tough lately, and instead of airing my dirty laundry, I shall share my favourite recipe to date. Skip to the title for the recipe.

I came back from a sudden 2 1/2 week emergency trip to Montreal to find my garden had dried out. I had to harvest all my tomatoes and then prune what was left of my poor plants.  I cut all the flowering stems off my thyme (which I used for this recipe). But a trip to see my father and brother helped, in which I found apples and cherries ripening in the backyard, touched only by the birds and wildlife. Harvesting them was quite fulfilling, and eating them was even more fun, as I got to share it with my family.

The apples from my father's backyard are sweet and crispy.
Most of the ingredients were sourced locally. The pork shoulder is from a friend's farm, MooseWood Acres, from which I bought a 1/4 pig last year. The nanking cherries and apples were grown in my father's backyard.   The tomatoes, thyme and basil were from my dying container garden. And finally my friend runs Heritage Harvest CSA, a community supported agriculture program, which I joined for this season, and she had these darling potatoes! I was lucky to have all of these fresh ingredients after discarding most of my produce (which had gone bad from being gone for so long).

Nanking cherries, ripe for the picking. 
Explanation for the naming of the side salad: the little white and orange colours in the Caprese salad remind me of the balls in Pokemon, hence the name "Poke-caprese".  On top of that - I keep them together by "poke"ing a skewer through them.  Punny!
Nanking cherries, freshly picked! 

Braised Nanking Cherry and Apple braised pork shoulder
The basic ingredients. 

Salt and Pepper

Thyme (fresh chopped or dried), 2 tbsp
Salt (of your favourite variety), 2 tbsp
Pork Roast

Apples (peeled, cored and sliced), ~ 1 apple or  ~3 small apples.
Nanking Cherries, (pitted or in a mesh bag or teabag), ~ 1 or 2 cups for braising
Onion (sliced), 1 medium
Potatoes, (about 7 baby potatoes, scrubbed or peeled - keep whole)
Water (enough to cover half the roast)

Cherry Cream Sauce
Stock from the braising, ~ 250 mL
~25 large cherries, pitted
Cream (whipping or heavy), ~ 200 - 250 mL

Side: "Poke-caprese salad"
5 Cherry Tomatoes
5 Cocktail bocconcini cheese balls
10 basil leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Finished product!

1. Combine salt and thyme in a bowl. Rub on all sides of the pork roast.
2. In a dutch oven, heat oil on medium-high heat, sear the outside of the pork roast on all sides.
3. Using the same pot, fry onions in butter
4. Add half the water.
5. Add the apples, onions, potatoes and cherries.
6. When the stock boils, set temp. to low heat.
7. Cover and cook for about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, until the pork roast is tender.
8. Reserve 1 cup of stock.

For the sauce:
1. In a saucepan, heat the reserved stock on medium-high heat.
2. Add pitted cherries, bring to boil, and then immediately lower the heat.
3. Simmer until syrupy, on low heat.
4. Add cream, and simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Poke-caprese Salad:
1. In a small jar, combine olive oil and vinegar. Shake to create a vinaigrette (emulsify!)
2. Cut all the tomatoes and bocconcini into halves.
3. Skewer the tomatoes and boccncini as shown, with a folded basil leaf between each half.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Dress with vinaigrette.