Monday, November 10, 2008

Braised Shredded Pork

I have not been one to braise in the kitchen. I've never fully trusted that the meat will have any flavor, or that it will be tender. Not having cooked that much meat, I have rarely been one to step too far away from the few techniques with which I'm familiar. Baked or boiled chicken, broiled lamb chops, salmon or steaks, and ground meat casseroles are the dishes that give me no fear. In recent months I've ventured further outside my comfort zone with beer (and wine) braised pork chops and skillet-seared skirt steak, so I am ready to expand my cooking vocabulary even more.

Once I decided I wanted to make a pork and pumpkin stew, I had to decide how I wanted to cook the pork, and what cut I needed to get the desired result. Off I went to the Apple Market. I told the butcher what I wanted to do, and he not only suggested the pork shoulder butt; he offered suggestions as to how I should season it and cook it. When I told him I was going to make a pork and pumpkin stew and wanted it to have more of a Mexican style, he altered his suggestions to suit that theme.

I have said it before and I will say it again: If you want top quality meat and great advice on how to prepare it, find a butcher and go there often. I owe most of my recent successes to my butcher. Not only do they know their meat cuts, they know the best way to prepare them and they are more than happy to share what they know. I felt confident that I had the right cut of meat for the dish I wanted to make.

So home I went with my shoulder butt. Not being familiar with braising, I looked through a few recipes to learn the basic technique. Knowing that I was going to use pork and pumpkin, I thought a mole-style braising sauce would work well so I had an idea of the spices I wanted to use; I just needed to know what to do with them.

This was so fantastically successful that I can't wait to do more braising. I think short ribs will be next.

Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

2 lb pork shoulder butt, bone in, cut in half if necessary to fit into pan in one layer
1 Tbsp medium hot chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp crushed guajillo pepper
olive oil
1 Tbsp canola oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Combine chili powder, cumin, guajillo pepper, salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour small amount of olive oil on both sides of the pork, then sprinkle the spices on and rub them in, being sure the spices cover all sides of the pork.

Heat canola oil in heavy pot or dutch oven that has a tight-fitting lid over high heat until pan is smoking hot. Carefully place pork in pan and brown all over, including sides. Remove from the pan, put on a plate and set aside.

Add oil if necessary, lower heat to medium high and add onions and garlic. Saute for another 3 minutes or so until onions and garlic are translucent. Add oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper and cook for another minute to release the oils in the spices.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Lay pork back into the pot, being sure to include any juices that gathered on the plate. Lower heat as low as it will go. Cover and cook for around four hours, checking regularly, until meat is tender enough to flake with a fork.

Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Using two forks, shred all of the meat.

Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Reserve liquid to serve with pork or to use later.

Created 10/26/08

Exported from Home Cookin 5.7 (

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