Pork shoulder with balsamic caramelised apples

A pork shoulder is an exceptional centrepiece for a dinner party and it’s very low stress to prepare, as long as you get the crackling right! This tantalising Nici Wickes recipe will show you how to nail it every time.

  • 2 hrs 20 mins cooking plus overnight refrigeration
  • Serves 6 - 8
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  • 1.5 kg piece of pork shoulder, bone in
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 Granny Smith apples (or allow half an apple per person)
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup water, stock or white wine
  • Small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon zest


  • 1
    Leave the pork uncovered in the fridge overnight, skin-side up. This dries the skin out, which helps you get crispy crackling.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 220°C. Rub oil all over the pork and place it in a roasting dish on a trivet of chopped onion. Sprinkle the salt over the skin. Bang it in the oven and cook it for 40-50 minutes on this high heat, by which time crackling will have formed. Lower the temperature to 170°C and keep cooking for 1 hour more.
  • 3
    Peel and quarter the apples and toss them in the balsamic vinegar. Add to the roasting dish, along with the water. Cook for 30 minutes more or until the apples are soft and the pork is meltingly tender. (It should give way when you push into it.)
  • 4
    To serve, arrange the pork and apples on a large chopping board, drizzle the pan juices over the apples, and scatter the parsley and lemon zest on top.


Get the butcher to score the pork skin – their knives are always sharper than ours – and don't be afraid to request how you'd like it done, such as a crisscross pattern, thin or thick-scored.

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