Braised food

Instant Pot Recipe: Cider Braised Pork Shoulder Quick Enough for a Weeknight

DDespite its commercial success, the Instant Pot is not the most popular vessel in food writing circles.

It lacks a certain romance of being “involved” with your food, artificially speeding up the natural course of time it takes to braise a dish. It doesn’t look as romantic as a clay pot used to simmer beans or as eye-catching as a brightly colored Le Creuset your family passed down to you. I won’t try to convince naysayers that the time saving and multicooker benefits can be a boon for working parents or busy people, but those of us who own an Instant Pot are singing its praises. If you follow us on Instagram or read these pages, you’ll likely spot us regularly whipping up bean broths, sublime stews, saucy spaghetti, luscious risotto, creamy yogurt, silky dulce de leche – and even a luxurious cheesecake. While the jury may still be out on trendy air fryers, one thing is certain, the Instant Pot is here to stay.

This may be because the Instant Pot is not a one-trick pony, but has a wide range of abilities. No need for a separate pressure cooker and slow cooker taking up twice the space in your kitchen – Instant Pot or another multicooker can do the job of both, and more, in a small footprint. Plus, the Instant Pot, unlike most slow cookers, has a sear feature, a key selling point for anyone who prefers to wash fewer pots.

One of my favorite ways to use the multicooker is to take a large piece of meat and pressure cook it in less than half the time it would take the conventional method. I stay away from these heavy meals during the warmer months, but as the highs and lows of the day wane, I find myself craving more tummy comfort. Such comfort is perfectly embodied by the possibilities offered by a pork shoulder.

Unfortunately, the pork shoulder also falls into what I like to call the “weekend aspiration” cooking category, which is very rewarding but requires a significant portion of your day to produce. The Instant Pot makes it a nocturnal reality.

Although I don’t willingly embrace the colder months – I still mourn the switch to hot coffee – I lean into braising the pork shoulder with apple cider, sage and rosemary, some of my favorite flavors. favorite autumn. For any meat I braise, I like to do an overnight cure or marinade to infuse the meat with more flavor.

For this recipe, I coated the meat with a marinade of brown sugar, fennel, sage, and rosemary, and a slurry of orange and lemon juice mixed with olive oil.

After searing the meat on all sides – by far the most laborious part of the recipe – I sautéed an onion, then nestled the pieces of meat among the half-moon piles. Then I added some apple cider and a little white wine, the latter bringing welcome acidity to a heavy looking dish. Then the lid went, and just over 90 minutes later I had an enviable dinner that I didn’t have to worry about.

The resulting braising liquid is a flavorful and fragrant concoction that can be served as is or slightly enhanced. I like to skim some off and simmer the remaining liquid to reduce and enrich the flavors, for a juice-like result.

Although an Instant Pot has its limitations – it won’t make a good rotisserie chicken, for example – it makes a sublime pork shoulder in under two hours, mostly without intervention, making it one of my favorite kitchen partners on weeknights.

Instant Pot Pork Shoulder with Apple Cider, Rosemary and Sage

active time: 35 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes, plus at least 2 hours of marinade

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Instead of hours of slow braising, this tender pork shoulder (or you can use similar pork butt) cooked in an Instant Pot for just over an hour, with apple cider and rosemary and scented sage. If you can marinate the pork ahead of time, you’re guaranteed a deeper flavor, but this step isn’t essential for success. Serve with cumin flavored rice (see associated recipe) and a glass of strong cider; or for a zero-proof option, combine equal parts apple cider and sparkling water, for a refreshing fall drink.

Get ahead: Pork should be marinated for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Storage Notes: Leftover pork can be refrigerated in its braising liquid for up to 4 days.


1 (1.4-1.8 kg) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-3 large pieces

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1½ teaspoon ground fennel

1½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1½ tsp chopped fresh sage

1½ teaspoons fine sea or table salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large yellow onion (about 340 g), stemmed and sliced

120ml apple cider or unfiltered apple juice

120ml dry white wine


Marinate the pork: dry the pork well, then prick the meat – avoiding the skin side – all over with a very sharp paring knife. Stuff the garlic slices into the holes.

In a large bowl, add the brown sugar, fennel, rosemary, sage, salt, garlic and onion powders, pepper, lemon and orange zest and juice and whisk until smooth. to homogeneity. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until combined. Add the pork pieces and turn them a few times, making sure they are generously coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Cook the pork: Set a 5.6 L programmable multi-cooker (such as an Instant Pot) to SAUTE. Heat the pan for 2 minutes, then add 1 tablespoon of oil. Remove the pork from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and pat the meat dry. Working in batches, sear pork until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the seared meat to a plate and set aside, and repeat with the remaining pork.

Drain as much fat as possible from the Instant Pot. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, followed by the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Return the pork, along with any accumulated juices, to the pot and pour the cider and wine around the meat. Add reserved marinade and cover. Make sure the steam valve is sealed. Select PRESSURE (HIGH) and set the timer for 1 hour 15 minutes (it may take up to 10 minutes for the unit to reach pressure before cooking begins).

Let the pressure release naturally. Carefully uncover the multicooker and transfer the meat to a cutting board. Taste the cooking liquid and if it seems thin or weak, set the Instant Pot to SAUTE and simmer the liquid until it reduces slightly and the flavors concentrate, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and/or pepper, if desired.

Transfer the meat to a dish and pour some sauce around it. Alternatively, you can shred the meat using 2 forks or a knife and fork. Serve hot.

To note: To make the pork in a slow cooker, follow the marinating and searing instructions above, then cook the pork slowly for 4-5 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. If your slow cooker has a sear function, you can sear the meat and sauté the onion in the same pan, otherwise use a skillet and transfer the meat and onions to the slow cooker when you’re ready to combine the ingredients.

Nutritional information per serving (approximately 140 g of meat and 60 ml of sauce), based on 8 | Calories: 545; total fat: 41g; saturated fat: 13g; cholesterol: 121mg; sodium: 564mg; carbohydrates: 11g; dietary fiber: 1g; sugar: 6g; protein: 29g.

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Cumin rice

(Rey Lopez/The Washington Post)

active time: 5 minutes; Total time: 25 minutes

Makes: 4 servings; about 600g of rice

If you rinse your rice before cooking, this method, adapted from chef Einat Admony who shared it on Instagram, may change your mind. The rice is roasted in oil and then covered with boiling water. Eighteen minutes later, the rice is thoroughly cooked, with each grain of rice separated and perfectly distinct.

Storage Notes: Leftover rice can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.


1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds (optional)

200g uncooked basmati rice (see note)

¾ c. fine sea salt or table salt, or more to taste

350ml boiling water (see note)


In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, if using, and heat until the seeds begin to dance in the oil, about 2 minutes. Add rice and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated in oil and becomes translucent and glossy, about 2 minutes.

Carefully add the boiling water – back off as the liquid will hiss and sputter – then stir briefly to combine. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, lid still closed, for 10 minutes, then stir with a rice spatula.

To note: If using jasmine rice, add 350 ml (1.5 cups) of water for every 200 (1 cup) of rice; if using short-grain rice, such as sushi rice, use 470 ml (2 cups) of water per 200 g of rice.

Nutritional information per serving (150g of rice) | 196 calories, 3g protein, 40g carbs, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 443mg sodium, 0g dietary fiber, 0g sugar

© The Washington Post