The pork shoulder should be marinated in the rub overnight or up to two days.
For the spice rub:
2 tablespoons packed, fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped, or 1 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, lightly chopped
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
For the pork shoulder roast:
4 to 5 pounds (1.8 to 2.2 kg) boneless pork shoulder, sinew and excess fat (beyond 1/4 inch) trimmed
4 medium good cooking apples, such as Fuji or Jonagold
1 medium yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine (can sub water)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Make the spice rub: Put the fennel seeds, peppercorns, thyme and rosemary leaves, garlic and 2 teaspoons salt into a spice grinder or coffee grinder and grind to a paste. (Alternatively, you can pound the mixture with a mortar and pestle.)
Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil.
2 Marinate roast overnight in spice rub: Rub the mixture evenly all over the pork shoulder. If the roast is tied, untie it to rub the inside with the rub mixture as well, then retie it.
Wrap the roast tightly in plastic wrap to hold the rub against the skin and marinate overnight (or up to two days).
3 Prep apples and onions: Peel, halve, and core the apples. Cut each apple half into about 4 wedges. Peel the onions. Cut in half from tip to root. Trim the root and tip. Cut each onion half into about 12 thin wedges.
Put the onions and the apples together in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper.
4 Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
5 Place roast on bed of apples and onions: Place the apples and onions in the bottom of a roasting pan or Dutch oven with a cover. Place the marinated pork shoulder on top of the apples and onions.
6 Roast: Roast uncovered for 30 minutes. Turn the oven heat down to 325°F and add the wine. Cover the roasting pan and slow roast for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until the pork shoulder is falling apart tender and pulls apart easily when probed with a fork.
7 Make sauce: Transfer the pork shoulder to a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Put the apples and onions into a blender. Add about 1/2 cup water and the mustard and purée.
Check the texture, and add water until you get the desired thickness for the gravy. Press through a sieve for a silky smooth textured gravy. Check the seasoning and correct to taste.
8 Serve: Cut the roast into pieces and serve with the apple gravy. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for 3 months.
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