Is there anything better than pork shoulder?
Although the weather begs to differ, it’s definitely starting to feel like fall, which generally means it’s the season for braising meat. Unctuous, tender meat that falls apart and melts in your mouth. One of my favorite cuts is pork shoulder. It’s massively flavorful, with the added bonus of nearly infinite versatility and ease. All you need to do is season it, sear all sides to a rust-colored crispy brown, drain the fat, add vegetables and other flavoring elements and a liquid about halfway up the meat. Pop it in the oven for a few hours, depending on how big it is, checking it periodically for tenderness. The best part about braising? It tastes like you’ve been in the kitchen all day when really the oven does most of the work.
I often use a coarse mirepoix and fresh herbs, perhaps some wine or tea but not this time. Admittedly, it was a throw-together kind of dinner, but the ingredient mix seemed thoughtfully organic. I used star anise, black garlic, and pumpkin ale, to further along the fall theme, seasoning the pork simply with pink salt and white pepper. But what happened was a beautiful, deep marriage of spice, sweetness and richness.
Even better, I was able to reduce down the dark yummy liquid to a glaze! To pair with the pork, I made a buttery cauliflower mash and creamy red lentils with onion and almond. All it needed was a drizzle of the glaze, some chopped cilantro and mint to finish the plate.
The depth of flavor was incredible, and although it looked like rich on top of rich on top of rich, it was hearty without being heavy. Which is just perfect for me.
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Chile ski resorts
I found a butcher shop in Brooklyn (of course I did) that sells rabbit meat AND will cut and trim it for me.
Looks like I’ll be making the braised rabbit in mustard sauce I referred to earlier.
Braising a Pork Roast (a learning experience)
Braised Pork Roast: Oxymoronic? Redundant? Braise and Roast different or the same? Braising is basically roasting so the meat is in liquid (stock, gravy, sauce, etc.). Roasting is cooking it without added liquids; just maybe an extra bit of fat (olive oil). I had braised a pork “roast” and it was used in two different meals on two separate days. Well, my husband informed me after I’d done it, that I should have just roasted (dry) this cut of pork since it didn’t have much fat throughout it. Both dishes were good, but now I know how they could be better. The first was made into burritos/tacos and the second into the Thai Green Curry that I just posted.
There is something that might be unique to the US in that when we go over to friends’ for dinner we often bring a part of the meal— appetizer, main, dessert not just a bottle of wine. It makes for a creative night (may try something you’d never make yourself) but also when we’re watching our budgets, it’s nice to share the expense of feeding more than just your own family. I needed to bring some food to a friend’s New Year’s Eve Fiesta, so I threw the pork roast in the oven early in the day. I figure I could use half to bring and half for our dinner the following night as it was a good sized roast.
So, I used my trusty Dutch oven and sautéed a diced onion in olive oil. Added the pork (which I cut in half) to brown.
Once each side was browned I added chicken stock (had no veal or pork stock), herbs (Penzy’s Mural of Flavor), and black pepper then covered it and put in 300F oven for 3 ½hours.
I added about ½ tsp chili powder, just under ¼ tsp cayenne, ¼ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp cumin and sea salt to the half that became filling for tacos and burritos. It easily fell apart like pulled/shredded pork. I added a little of the left over liquid from braising and sautéed it all for a few minutes to open up all the spices.
It wasn’t dry and made for delicious fiesta food. The fun of being with good friends made it even better.