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There are many things that vinegar can do for you. It can clean your home, spruce up your guts, make your food last almost indefinitely, break down tough flesh, help make a little science project rocket ascend several feet above the ground. Mister Michael Harlan Turkell has sampled more kinds of vinegar than almost any human on the planet and he wrote about them in a book called Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar: With Recipes from Leading Chefs, Insights from Top Producers, and Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Make Your Own. He danced with me and fed me Cider-Vinegar Braised Pork Shoulder with Leeks, Apple, and Sweet Potato Greens from a recipe by the beautiful Mister Hugh Acheson, and all was briefly right with the world.

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Cider-Vinegar Braised Pork Shoulder with Leeks, Apple, and Sweet Potato Greens

Recipe by Hugh Acheson from Acid Trip


5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) whole bone-in pork shoulder
4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1¾ cups (420 milliliters) apple cider vinegar
4 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups (720 milliliters) chicken stock
8 medium leeks, dark green parts removed and sliced into ½-inch (12-mm) rings
1 teaspoon butter
½ cup (120 milliliters) olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 crisp red apples, such as Fuji, cores removed and thinly sliced with the skin on
1 pound (455 grams) sweet potato greens, or any hearty greens, washed and dried


Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).

Pat the pork shoulder well with paper towels. Season the pork shoulder with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Heat the canola oil in a large braising pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until barely smoking. Sear the seasoned pork shoulder in the hot oil for 5 minutes on each side, or until the pork has a nice, caramel-brown crust. Remove the pork shoulder from the pan and rest it at room temperature.

Lower the heat to medium, add the onion and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and celery are softened and slightly browned, 8 minutes. Add the garlic and 1½ cups (360 ml) of the apple cider vinegar, raise the heat to high, and cook for another 8 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the bay leaves, thyme, chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of the remaining salt, and the pork.

Cover the pan with a lid, or use aluminum foil if you don’t have a lid, and place the pan in the oven for 1½ hours. Carefully turn over the pork shoulder, cover again, and cook for another 1½ hours. Add the leeks to the pan and evenly distribute them, making sure they are immersed in the liquid, then cover again and cook for 45 minutes, or until the leeks are tender. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully take out the pork shoulder and leeks, and let them rest at room temperature. Leave the oven on.

Place the pan on medium-high heat, remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the braising liquid has reduced to a light gravy consistency. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cooked leeks and butter to the pan, stirring to melt the butter.

Place the pork shoulder on a baking sheet and put back in the oven for 10 minutes, or until it warms through.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup (60 ml) vinegar, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the olive oil, and the mustard and whisk well to form a vinaigrette. Add the apples and sweet potato greens to the bowl and mix well. Add another pinch of salt if needed.

Use two forks to tear the pork into chunks. To serve, spoon some of the leek mixture onto a plate, place torn chunks of the pork shoulder on top of the leeks, and spoon a little sauce from the pan over the pork. Serve with the salad.

Pork Shoulder adapted for the Instant Pot by Amelia Rampe

Pat pork shoulder with paper towels. Season pork with 2 teaspoons of salt and the black pepper, let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Using the sauté function of the instant pot, heat the canola oil and sear the pork shoulder on every side until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Reserve pork on plate and add onions and celery and cook until softened and beginning to to turn golden, about 8 minutes.

Add garlic and 1 1/2 cups of vinegar and simmer until liquid has reduced by half. Add bay leaves, thyme, chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of remaining salt and pork to the pot and lock on the Instant Pot lid. Set Instant Pot to High pressure for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes, turn the vent and depressurize the pot. When that is complete, remove lid, flip the pork over and add in the sliced leeks. Lock lid back on and set Instant Pot to high pressure for 10 minutes. Once the time is complete, turn the vent to depressurize. Gently remove the pork (it should be falling off the bone) and leeks and reserve. Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Set Instant Pot to sauté function and simmer until sauce has thickened to a gravy like texture and reduced by half. Add butter and leeks and stirring to melt the butter.

Make salad and serve.