Sunday, March 8, 2009

Braised Pork Shoulder

Braising—which means long, slow cooking with liquid—is one of the oldest, simplest, and most delicious ways of cooking. There are a lot of cheap, sinewy cuts of meat that are flattered by spending a few hours in soft, warm bubbling liquid. They become so tender they melt. Braising is everywhere. It's how mom cooked her pot roast, how chili is made, and it's the technique behind the brussel sprout recipe I shared.

The basic technique for braising has two steps.
1) Season and brown
2) Cook in liquid

There are a million variations on that theme, but the gist is always the same. Here's a simple way to apply the recipe to pork shoulder, something I really like.

Get yourself two pounds of pork shoulder which will serve 4-6 or leave two people with lots of tasty leftovers. Season it with salt and pepper by sprinkling and rubbing them in with your hands. Be generous. Brown under the broiler until the surface is just short of charred, turning to make sure it's cooked on all sides.

Put it in a good soup pot with water and perhaps some unsalted broth (chicken or beef) and white wine. The water should surround but not cover the meat, an inch or more should be showing. Add some bay leaves or thyme if you'd like.

Bring the liquid to a boil then turn it down quickly. Set the heat to a temperature where the surface of the liquid barely moves. Cover and let cook for a few hours. Hell, you could probably let it cook for a few days if you wanted. It'll just get better. The meat will fall apart when plucked with a fork.

If you need to eat right away dig in. It's good to go. But if you cooked it ahead of time, braised meats get really spectacular when you take a couple extra steps. Take the meat out of the liquid and let them both cool in the refrigerator. For the liquid: skim the hard fat that surfaces, reheat the meat in it, then reduce and strain for sauce. Slice the shoulder in thick slices, drizzle the sauce on top and give 'em a grind or two of Tellicherry pepper. Serve with a bit of strong mustard on the side, like Dijon.

1 comment:

Susan Ederer said...

Recipe sounds good!

In light of the "state of the biz" message shared at last week's all staff huddle, I'd like to see more info in this blog about details of the initiatives you mentioned then.