Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Braised Pork Shoulder

Yesterday I had an overwhelming desire to make a braised meat dish for dinner. I don't know what brought on the craving: being pregnant, not having a full time job, living in one of Europe's meat-based regions, or the changing seasons. But by 3:30 in the afternoon my house smelled delicious and I felt like June Cleaver.

Yet, by 4:30 P.M. I decided that I didn't want to totally loose myself in nostalgia. I opted to serve my braised pork shoulder over soft polenta instead of the predictable potatoes and roasted up some Brussel sprouts to serve as a side dish. Together the combination was warm and satisfying, with a nice balance of sweet and savory.

2 tablespoons four, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 2-pound pork shoulder
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onions
4 cloves garlic
1 carrot
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup Sherry
½ cup apple juice
2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves

Preheat the over to 325 degrees.

Coat the outside of the pork shoulder with seasoned flour. Over high heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot. Add pork shoulder and cook until brown on all sides, about three to four minutes per side.

Remove pork from pot and set aside on a plate. Dice onions, mince garlic, and chop carrots into rounds. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and heat over a medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about two minutes. Add garlic and carrots and cook for two to three minuets. Add tomato paste and cook for another two to three minutes. Pour in Sherry, reduce heat, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add apple juice and chicken stock and return pork shoulder to the pot. Add bay leaves. Cover and bring contents of the pot to a boil.

Place the covered pot in the oven and cook for two and a half to three hours. When the meat is just about falling apart, take pot out of the oven. Remove pork should and set aside. Puree the braising liquid with an emersion blender. Place on the stove top over low heat and allow liquid to reduce for 15 minutes, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Serve pork and thickened sauce over polenta, potatoes, or egg noodles.

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