Cider-braised pork

  (Bryan Chan, Los Angeles Times)

In a braise of glory: There are few more alluring -- and satisfying -- dishes than braises, especially now that there's a little chill in the air.

It will be hard to resist this braised dish with its fork-tender and flavorful, glossy with rich, aromatic sauce.

Cider-braised pork with fennel

Total time: 3 1/2 hours
Servings: 8

5- to 5 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder butt, tied
4 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, tops removed, cut in half and sliced (about 2 cups sliced)
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups hard cider
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 fennel bulbs, about 1 pound each
2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and cracked