Here is yet another fantabulous dish from Molly Stevens' cookbook All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking , and is one I was happy to whip up this week as the thermometer ditched back into the single digits here in the Northeast.
Molly calls for braising the pork shoulder whole (which I did), then slices it and serves it up with the awesome sauce left behind in the braising pot (which I didn't do). I decided that rather than eat it as a "roast", I would cube the meat – toss it back into the sauce and eat it as a stew. I'm sure it's delicious as Molly serves it and perhaps a bit more formal, but for my money allowing the chunks of meat to soak up some sauce before serving is the way to go.
Upon reheating, the meat breaks down a little leaving you with more of a pulled-pork consistency….it is a very good thing. The savory-sweet-citrusy sauce along with the fall-apart tender pork is a match made in heaven. Make this one SOON!
Cheers – Steve
- One 4 1/2 - 5 pound boneless pork shoulder roast, preferably "Boston Butt"
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons EVOO
- 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, coarsely chopped
- (about 1 cup)
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 cardamom pods, husks split and discarded, seeds lightly crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 3 strips orange zest removed with a vegetable peeler
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons apricot brandy or cognac
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup dried apricots (about 6 1/2 ounces)
- Heat the oven to 325℉.
- Trim any especially thick fat from the pork, but don't be too scrupulous. Leaving some fat will improve the flavor of the braise. Roll and tie the pork into a compact bundle.
- Pat the surface of the pork dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and plenty of pepper. Pour the oil into a dutch oven or other deep lidded pot that will hold the pork snugly (4-5 quart works well), and heat over medium heat. Lower the pork into the pot and sear on all sides, using tongs to turn the meat as it cooks, until deeply browned but not at all burned, 15 to 20 minutes total. Transfer the pork to a plate.
- Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat, and return the pot to medium heat. Add the leek, carrots, and onions, stir in the crushed cardamom, turmeric, and cayenne, and cook, stirring once or trice, until the vegetables begin to soften, but do not take on too much color, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, orange zest, and bay leaf and cook until the spices are quite fragrant, another 2 minutes.
- Pour the brandy into the pot Bring to a boil and boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any caramelized bits, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the wine and let boil for 4 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the apricots and boil for another 2 minutes.
- Lift the pork with the tongs and set it on top of the vegetables and fruit. Pour any of the accumulated juices from the plate. Bring the liquid to an easy simmer, and spoon some over the pork. Cover the meat with a sheet of parchment paper, pressing down so that it almost touches the meat and extends over the sides of the pot about an inch. Set the lid in place, and slide the pot onto a shelf in the lower third of the oven to braise. Every 30 minutes, lift the lid to make sure that the liquid is simmering gently, and give the pork a turn. If the liquid is simmering too aggressively, lower the heat in the oven 10 or 15 degrees. Continue to braise gently until the pork is fork tender, about 2 hours in all.
- Remove the pork from the pot with a large meat fork or the tongs and set it on a carving board or platter to catch the juices. Cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. return the pot to the top of the stove and skim off as much surface fat as you can with a wide spoon. With tongs, or a large fork, remove zests and bay leaf if you like. if the sauce is very thin, reduce it by boiling over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. It should be the consistency of a thick vinaigrette. Taste for salt and pepper. Pour any juices that have accumulated under the pork into the sauce and stir.
- Remove the strings from the pork, and carve into 1/2" thick slices (or do as I do and cube the pork, then toss it back into the sauce for a little love). Serve with the sauce and apricots.