Let’s talk carnitas for lunch. Frittatas for brunch. Pork Ragú on Pasta with Parmigiano Reggiano come Friday Date Night. BBQ Sandwiches to kick off Game Day. Pizza. Nachos. Pork Chopped Salad for the Carb-Watchers. Sweet Potatoes topped with Pulled Pork, Smoked Gouda, and Pickled Red Onions solves dinner for everyone. Pork Stew — just because no one makes it enough. Hot Pork Sandwiches (see below) or what about Cubanos? Yep, all that, and even more can be had from one oven-braised pork shoulder that requires little more effort than sniffing happily around the house all day long while it stays all cozy in the oven. I guess I don’t have to but still will say this stuff smells exactly like hog heaven.
And wouldn’t that be nice on Tuesday, November 3, 2020?
11 Films to Watch on Election Night (from 2008, but still a watchable list)
For two-person households, a pork shoulder seems a monumental piece of meat. Not that we don’t make it once or twice a year; we do. But it goes on the smoker when a boat load of friends is on the way for a summer evening on the deck or falls into the slow cooker for Super Bowl Sunday. Not usually on the menu when there’s just the two of us hanging around during Covid-Time. No.
8 pounds of pork?
When you’re ordering your groceries for pickup, though, sometimes you receive something you didn’t exactly anticipate. When life sends you lemons, make lemon bars, right? I ordered pork steaks, (see above) which we love to grill medium-rare and serve with mustard-horseradish sauce. Pork steaks do come from the shoulder and when the steaks were unavailable, our local grocery subbed a big old 8-pound bone-in shoulder roast. Yikes! I had 7 pounds more pork than I had planned on. I left it sit in the fridge a few more days than I should’ve wondering about that huge hunk, but it really got to the point where I had to fish or cut bait. We dragged it out to cut it into a couple of smaller roasts for freezing, but the big bone in the middle posed quite a problem. I mean, I don’t have a butcher saw. Maybe better to cook it as is and freeze the cooked pork? And so it was…I was looking at a good six hours of braising a pork shoulder in the oven as Colorado, due to high fire danger, is not big on smokers right now. And, anyway, once I cooked it, removed the bone, fat, and gristle, I’d no longer have 8 pounds of meat. In fact, I ended up with just over 5 when all was said and done. Not nearly so daunting. I found myself pretty darned happy whenever I walked outside and back in again only to sniff in delight with a big smile of anticipation…
And once I thought it over, there were myriad ways to use it. I began right away with this one, which is similar to an old school Hot Roast Beef Sandwich that’s still a popular diner special served with mashed potatoes. I had no mash, but I did have a thick slice of great sour dough bread I grilled before topping it with the shredded pork, broth and vegetables, and a nice sprinkle of Parmesan:
As I divvied up the pork and broth amongst quart freezer containers, I remembered this, too, and promised myself we’d make these sometime.
Not all of it went into the freezer, though, as I needed to save out enough for Dave’s Sunday Brunch cooking:
Next week, I’ll defrost one container and heat it up with my favorite BBQ sauce; it’ll look about like this:
There are so many more ways to use this versatile recipe, but I’ll let you click on this for more ideas than mine:
And then, I’ll betcha try this, which would be an easy way to have dinner ready on election day, whichever way you’re leaning:
beer-braised pork shoulder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons Savory Spices Bohemian Forest seasoning or similar combination of herbs and spices
- 8- pound bone-in pork shoulder-trimmed of excess fat
- 1 large onion cut into 1/8’s
- 2 large carrots cut into ¼’s
- 2 large stalks of celery with leaves cut into ¼’s
- 3 cloves garlic–peeled and left whole
- 32 ounces beer– can sub a mixture of apple cider and broth
- 2-4 cups Low Sodium chicken or vegetable broth – may need the larger amount if the liquid cooks down too quickly as the meat braises
- 2 bay leaves
- PREP: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack in the lower third of the oven.
- SEASON AND SEAR PORK: Add oil to an 8-quart Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Mix salt, pepper, cayenne, and Bohemian Forest seasoning in a small dish. Rub spice mixture all over the pork. Brown pork on every side. You may have to hold the meat up with a large meat fork to brown the shorter sides. It should be well-seared and dark brown when you’re done.
- ADD VEGETABLES AND LIQUIDS: Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in the pan around the meat. Pour in beer and add enough broth so the liquid comes halfway up the meat. Add bay leaves. Cover and bring to a simmer.
- BRAISE FOR 6 HOURS IN THE OVEN: Put the covered Dutch oven into the oven and cook for approximately six hours or until meat is fork tender or falling off the bone. Turn pot around every hour or so and check every two hours to make sure the liquid still comes halfway up the meat. Add more broth as needed.
- USE MEAT NOW OR COOL OVERNIGHT TO USE LATER: To use meat today, remove pork from braising liquid, and rest on cutting board until cool enough to handle. Strain braising liquid, saving solids or discarding as needed. Shred (pull) meat using two forks or your fingers and, adding strained braising liquid and/or BBQ sauce, use for sandwiches, BBQ, etc. (See other ideas below.) Discard bone, fat, and gristle. To use meat later, let meat and liquid cool in the Dutch oven for an hour or so and then cool completely covered overnight in the refrigerator. You can then remove the fat on top of the liquid and shred before using meat in recipe(s) of your choice. Option: Heat unstrained broth and vegetables (after removing the pork from the pot) and purée into a gravy using an immersion blender or processed in batches in the food processor.
- STORAGE: Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator 3-4 days and in the freezer in covered airtight containers or heavy duty freezer bags for up to 3 months.
No beer for you? Sub mixed apple cider and broth or use all broth.
Want smoky? Add a shake or two of liquid smoke to the braising liquid.
Bohemian Forest seasoning includes crushed brown mustard seed, garlic, rosemary, black pepper, Mediterranean thyme, savory, parsley, lavender and sage
Wine? I like a California Zinfandel with pulled and especially bbq pork, but wouldn’t pass by an inexpensive Syrah anytime.
MORE INFO THAN YOU WANTED:
LIFE GOES ON:
Fall view from our living room windows after our second snow.
Dave’s first try at building an Adirondack chair. It folds! I’m unsure whether it’ll be stained, painted, or left au natural.
We are down to the last of our homegrown tomatoes placed in a brown paper bag and stored in a dark closet before the most recent hard frost. Are they as good as just off the vine? Nah, but they’re better than store bought and they’re ours!
I made my Pear and Almond Crostata last week. Link is to the recipe which needs updating, but still works! Put it on your Thanksgiving or December baking list.
I’m a little shaky going into this next week and maybe you are, too, if you live in the U.S. I see photos of some businesses being boarded up in anticipation of possible trouble and can’t help wonder how’d we ever get here? So divided, so fearful, so trigger happy? So convinced our side is the correct side or the most patriotic? Believing we are the the flag bearers, but facing sleepless nights knowing we could be wrong. How to get through election day?
But if you’re looking at a personal path to get through the day, you’ll have to look into your own heart. How much news can you stand? Will you keep the tv on all day long? How should you spend the day if you don’t have to be at work? Our local Benedictine nuns will spend the day in prayer and fasting except for a noon meal of rice and beans, the food of the poor all over the world. I pray, but can’t see myself doing it all day long — though my heart will stretch and reach many times, I know. And I’m going to need comfort and sustenance — like this beer-braised pork instead of rice and beans. Whaddya think?
I’ll catch you on the flip side,