Like any great stew should, the aroma of this hearty pork and apple stew will seep from the slow cooker and waft through the kitchen and beyond, long before you ladle it into bowls. And the anticipation is well worth it because this family-friendly stew delivers, big time. It tastes even better than that mouthwatering fragrance you've been smelling for hours.
It's deeply savory with a subtle tang, and just the right balance of sweetness from apple cider and chopped apples. Serve it with a generous chunk of bread (even egg noodles or cauliflower rice) — you're going to want something to help you savor every last drop of the sauce.
A Double Dose of Apples for Flavor and Texture
Pork and apple is such a classic pairing, and this stew gets not one, but two doses of apple mixed in. This recipe starts by searing the cubes of pork, then caramelizing a bunch of pearl onions in the same pan, and finally pouring in apple cider to deglaze and pull all those wonderful browned bits of flavor from the bottom of the pan. Cubes of apple are also mixed in along with the potatoes and carrots. As the stew simmers, the apple pieces slowly break down and melt into the sauce, giving the stew added texture and richness.
Slow Cooker Pork & Cider Stew
boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
canola or vegetable oil, divided
peeled fresh pearl onions (about 20)
apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
low-sodium chicken broth
medium red potatoes, quartered
medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Generously season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, add the pork in a single layer and sear until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining pork.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes more.
Pour in the apple cider and deglaze the skillet, using a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Whisk in the broth, mustard, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.
Add the thyme, sage, bay leaf, carrots, potatoes, and apples to the slow cooker, then pour the broth mixture over top. Cover and cook until the pork is tender, 6 to 8 hours on the LOW setting, or 4 to 5 hours on the HIGH setting.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months.