This is a dish that we whipped up a few weeks back in advance of a ski trip with my brother and his family. We were looking for something that could be completely cooked in advance, so that after a long day on the slopes we’d have little more to do than throw the pot into the oven to reheat while we sat by the fire, enjoyed a glass of wine, and stretched our sore muscles.
My sister-in-law doesn’t eat red meat, so the beef bourguignon or short ribs I had in the freezer were off-limits….thank goodness for our friend, the noble pig. This dish is incredibly easy to make, wildly flavorful, and satisfied everyone at the table that night, served with some gingered sweet potatoes and a simple green salad.
After braising, the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender and moist, in large part due to the fact that the roast you’ll cut up for this dish comes from the pig’s shoulder, an area where the meat is nicely marbled with fat. For this reason, it is ideal to cook this dish a day in advance, let it sit in the dutch oven to cool in a fridge overnight to solidify all of the rendered fat, then scoop the fat cap off the braise before reheating it to eat the next day. At the market you are likely to find the shoulder already cut into two roasts, a picnic roast, and a boston butt, either will do for this dish. If you’ve got a large enough pot, this is a great candidate for making a double batch, either to serve a VERY large crowd, of for freezing left-overs for another day.
Enjoy! – Steve
- 1 (1 1/2-inch) piece cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
- 3 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (picnic roast or boston butt)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger, smashed
- 2 (4- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or medium-dry Sherry
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (20 fl oz)
- 3 fennel bulbs (sometimes called anise), stalks cut off and discarded, then bulbs sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- Special equipment: cheesecloth; kitchen string
- Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Wrap cinnamon stick and anise seeds in a small square of cheesecloth and tie bundle closed with string.
- Pat pork dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a deep 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown pork in 3 batches, turning, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl as browned.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot and cook onion and garlic over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add ginger, zest, and sugar and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in soy sauce, rice wine, broth, pork with any accumulated juices, and cheesecloth bag. Braise mixture, covered, in oven 1 hour.
- Stir in fennel and braise, covered, in oven until fennel is very tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Discard cheesecloth bag, then season pork mixture with salt and pepper and stir in cilantro.