I know as soon as fall hits everyone is busting out the pumpkin and pumpkin spice, which I love. But, nothing cries fall to me more than pork and apples. And there is no better time of year to enjoy pork than during October National Pork Month.
When I learned that October was Porktober, I declared October officially my favorite month. It’s when my two favorite things combine: fall and an entire month dedicated to celebrating pork, only my favorite protein of all the proteins.
So, when Tom Thumb asked if I wanted to partner with them to celebrate Porktober with their Open Nature Duroc Pork, I was totally on board.
Over the last year and a half, my husband and I have been doing our best to make good food choices. We have been focusing on living life to the fullest, and part of that is the goodness of the food we eat. I look for products that use whole ingredients and minimal processing. This is just one of the reasons I love Tom Thumb’s exclusive Open Nature products.
About Open Nature Products
Open Nature is a brand that includes a wide variety of products dedicated to a clean lifestyle in both food and non-food categories. This includes 100% natural meat like beef & lamb that is 100% grass-fed, raised without antibiotics, and chicken & pork that is 100% vegetarian-fed and no antibiotics ever.
I was really excited to hear that Open Nature pork is Duroc pork. Duroc is a heritage breed that is known for creating tender
All About Open Nature Duroc Pork
- Open Nature Pork is available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area exclusively at Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores.
- All Open Nature pork is of the Duroc heritage breed. Duroc is loved by both food lovers and chefs for its generous marbling. Marbling means fat which translates into a more tender, juicy, and flavorful eating experience. Duroc is practically “fool-proof” to prepare a delicious dish.
- Open Nature pork is anti-biotic free (no antibiotics ever), 100% vegetarian fed, has no added hormones or growth promotants and is raised crate-free.
Open Nature products are available in my area exclusively at Tom Thumb and Albertsons, and you can also find them at any and all of the Albertsons Companies family of grocery stores, including Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Shaw’s, Star Market, and Carrs/Safeway. Visit Albertsons.com and TomThumb.com to find a store near you and discover more meal prep tips and recipe ideas.
I wanted to create a recipe that was classic, comforting, full of flavor and celebrated both pork and fall. Apples and pork are a classic and comforting pairing that meet all of these requirements. The default cooking method for a pork shoulder is to cook it in a slow cooker, but I wanted to make something whole and toothsome. That is why I decided to slow roast the pork shoulder in the oven.
I also wanted the roast to be infused with all the flavor and be as tender as possible. I did this by brining the roast in a spiced apple cider brine. The end result was everything!
How to Make a Simple Brine
When preparing any brine, the basic ratio is 4 tablespoons of kosher salt to 1 quart (4 cups) of water or liquid of choice.
Your choice of liquid could depend on what flavors you are trying to achieve. I have used orange juice, pineapple juice, broth, and apple cider as liquids for a brine. From there you can add any desired whole spices like clove, juniper berries, bay leaf, fresh herbs, or citrus rinds.
How to Know How Much Brine To Make
Your protein needs to be fully submerged in the brine. If you are unsure about how much brine you need, simply place your protein in a container large enough to hold it, leaving at least one inch above the protein. Then fill the container with the liquid you are using for the brine. Remove the protein and measure out the liquid. Add 4 tablespoons of kosher salt for every 1 quart (4 cups) left.
I like to use a large food storage container with measurements on the side to make this process easier. You can also use a brining bag.
Why Brine Proteins?
Brining is a technique used in cooking lean cuts of protein that tend to dry out or meat that will be exposed to dry heat for an extended period of time. Brining requires submerging a cut of protein in a solution of salt water. The protein absorbs extra liquid and salt. The result is a juicier and more flavorful dish.
It’s also a great way to infuse flavor into the protein. Brining is really more of a technique for dry heat preparations like roasting and grilling. It is not necessary to brine protein that is poached or cooked in a slow cooker.
Although a pork shoulder can be a fatty protein, I chose to brine it because it was a boneless cut that I slow roasted, exposing it to dry heat for over 3 hours.
Slow Roasted Apple Cider Pork Shoulder Recipe Ingredients
6 cups apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon juniper berries
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ginger paste
2 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
1 3-4 pound Open Nature Duroc Pork Shoulder Roast
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium Honeycrisp apples
1 medium onion
1 cup apple cider
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 large sage leaves
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon maple syrup
I was so happy with this roast. If you are looking for a show-stopping centerpiece to your next fall-themed dinner party, I suggest this roast. It does take some planning, but it’s easy and so flavorful. There is a hint of sweetness from the apple cider and loads of flavor from the herb rub.
If you are looking for more pork recipes to celebrate Porktober try my roasted pernil (Puerto Rican roast pork) or spicy malta bbq slow cooker pulled pork. I have so many pork recipes it’s kinda ridiculous. Visit my entire pork recipe collection.
more fall recipe love
- fall vegetables and herb galette
- flan de calabaza (pumpkin flan)
- spiced apple cider glazed turkey breast
- roasted fall salad with maple vinaigrette
- 6 cups apple cider
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 3-4 pounds Open Nature Duroc Pork Shoulder Roast
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium honeycrisp apples, cored and cut into wedges
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and minced
- 6 large sage leaves, minced
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- In a large bowl combine all brine ingredients. Mix until well combined.
- Remove the pork shoulder from plastic wrapping leaving the net on. Place pork shoulder in a brining bag or a large pot.
- Pour brine over the pork shoulder being sure that it is full submerged. If using a brine bag twist the bag until the pork is fully submerged in brine. Then place in a large bowl. Refrigerate overnight.
- Heat oven to 275 degrees.
- In a small sauce pot bring apple cider to a boil and reduce by half. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine all remaining rub ingredients, mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Heat a large heavy bottom skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat.
- Remove pork shoulder from brine. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub pork shoulder with olive oil on all sides.
- Sear the shoulder for 4 minutes on each side in the hot pan.
- Spread apples and onion in the roasting pan. Place browned pork shoulder on roasting rack.
- Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of apple cider and pour over apples and onions.
- Rub herb mixture all over the pork shoulder. Drizzle the reduced apple cider over the pork shoulder.
- Roast pork shoulder in the oven for 3 hours our until the thickest portion of the roast reaches and internal temperature of 145 degrees. Rest for 5 minutes.
- Remove net bag and serve sliced with apples and onions.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertson’s and Tom Thumb. The opinions and text are all mine.