Tuesday, March 15

Slow Braised Pork Shoulder

My usual approach to cooking and eating is instant gratification in the form of quick and easy meals, but there's something truly rewarding about slow cooking large cuts of meat for hours, until the flesh falls away from the bone. I'd been hearing rumors about my friend's slow-cooking capabilities, so I was delighted that I got to see his skills in action during his recent trip to L.A. We ended up cooking a six-course meal featuring some of our favorite foods (more recipes featured later this week), but the pork was the star of the show. I served it over a bed of rosemary polenta (which I adapted from this recipe), and can't wait to use the leftovers for a quick pasta sauce.

Slow Braised Pork Shoulder:
  • Wrap a 5 lb. bone-in pork shoulder with butcher twine, twice vertically and once horizontally.
  • Liberally season all sides with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, heat 4 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over high heat.
  • Sear all sides of the pork, about 3-5 minutes each side until browned.
  • Removed pork and set on a plate. Add 1 diced fennel bulb, 1 diced onion, and 2 diced carrots.
  • Cook vegetables for 4-6 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add olive oil if necessary.
  • Add ten whole cloves of garlic in a well in the middle of the vegetables. Brown the garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt.
  • Add 2 tbsp. tomato paste and let it rust (brown) for 2-3 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar and one bundle (about a handful) of fresh thyme
  • Add half a bottle of white wine and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add 2 c. can of chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add the pork back to the pan, scraping the juices from its resting plate.
  • Taste for seasoning. Add a large pinch of red chili flakes, another bundle of thyme, and the fennel top (fronds removed).
  • Top with the remaining half bottle of white wine and 1-2 c. more chicken stock.
  • Cook in the oven for 1 hr. at 425°F. Reduce the oven temp to 400°F and cook for another hour. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and cook for a remaining hour.
  • Remove the pork from the pot and cut off butcher's twine. Skim excess fat off the top of the sauce.
  • Divide meat among plates (meat should fall off the bone) and top with sauce.

Serves four, plus leftovers