Sunday, November 16, 2014

Apple cider-braised pork shoulder

Fall weather allows us to consider the long-braising cuts of meat that seem unthinkable in spring or summer.

I bought a beautiful pork shoulder at Giunta's in Reading Terminal Market yesterday morning.  I had the butcher cut off the shank to make it a bit easier to fit into the covered casserole for braising.

I removed the rind that was still on the shoulder. (It's great to keep on when dry/open roasting, as it becomes crisp crackling, but braising does it no good.)  I retained the fat cap.

Seasoned it liberally with salt, and browned it on all sides in my vintage Magnalite covered roaster.

Trimmed up some veggies to encircle the roast while braising:  turnips, garlic, onions, shallots, carrots, and an apple.  And a nice bunch of herbs: thyme, rosemary, bay.   Veggies were lightly seasoned. 

With the roaster still over a medium flame, I added dry white vermouth, apple cider, and stock -- about equal volumes of each, about 3 - 4 cups liquid total.  The liquids were brought to a simmer, the roaster covered, and nestled into a 325°F oven for about three-and-a-half hours, until the meat was tender. 

 When finished braising, the roast was removed to a serving platter and covered until ready to slice and serve.  (It will stay warm for a long time.)  Vegetables were removed to a separate platter.

Pan juices were strained into an already prepared roux of butter and flour to make gravy.  I added a bit more stock to the gravy to bring it to the appropriate consistency, then let it simmer 10 minutes over low heat.  I tasted it for seasoning, but it needed nothing additional, not surprising since the pan juices were sufficiently seasoned from the roast and veggies.

I sliced the roast off the bone, and doused it with some of the pan juices that had accumulated in the bowl of resting veggies.

I served the roast with the accompanying braised veggies, a cheesy mashed potato casserole (mashed potatoes, cream cheese, butter, shredded swiss, topped with fried onions), oven-roasted Brussels sprouts dressed with garlic oil and balsamic vinegar, and the gravy.

Bonus: next morning, a breakfast hash made with onions and potatoes, leftover pork, chopped well, the leftover braised veggies, also well chopped, and a few dollops of leftover gravy.  Let it crust up in a skillet and served with eggs.