Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Salsa Verde Brasied Pork Shoulder Two Ways

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 easily, with brunch leftovers recipe following):

1 5-pound bone-in pork shoulder or Boston Butt, preferably from a pig who was happy in life
2 tbsp. olive oil
10 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 bottle of Hoegaarden
1 bottle of Southampton Altbier
2 cups chicken stock, as needed
1 7-oz. can of Herdez Salsa Verde (if you can't find it in a Mexican market, substitute another brand or finely mince 2 tomatillos, 1 small onion, 2 serrano peppers, and a few springs of cilantro)
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 tbsp. Anaheim chile powder
1 tsp. thyme
Salt and black pepper

1) Pre-heat oven temp to 275 degrees. If using a picnic cut, trim off the skin. Score the fatty side of the pork shoulder, at spaces about 2 inches apart, and then repeat perpendicular so the fat is still attached but appears cubed. Make several more deep cuts into the meat to allow the braising liquid to penetrate.
2) Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole, Dutch oven, or soup pot. When oil is very hot and smoking, sear the pork, browning it on all sides. When all the sides are a nice, deep brown, remove to a plate.
3) You'll have some rendered fat in the pot now. Turn down heat to medium. Add minced garlic and saute until golden, about 1 minute.
4) Add all the dry herbs and spices, stirring constantly to toast, for 1 minute.
5) Incorporate the wet ingredients (both beers and the can of Herdez), and add salt and pepper. Bear in mind when salting the liquid that you will be reducing it by half later in the process. Note: if you can't find the same beers we used, the recipe would work just as well with other options. We liked the orangey-coriander spice of the Hoegaarden combined with the rich brown of the Altbier, but truly, use what you like.
6) Return the pork to the pot. Bring to a simmer. The liquid should come halfway up the sides of your meat--if needed, add chicken stock.
7) Cover and braise in the 275 degree oven for AT LEAST 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, more like 4 hours if you have the time.
8) Remove pork to a cutting board. You will have a great deal of rendered fat in your pot. You can a) use a spoon and skim it off when it cools enough to handle, b) use one of those nifty fat-separating teapot looking thingies, or c) put the pot in the refrigerator overnight and peel the hardened fat off in the morning. This is not a fast recipe. We used a spoon.
9) Return the cooking liquid (minus most of the rendered fat--feel free to save that for another purpose) to a burner and reduce by about half.
10) Meanwhile, shred your pork. It should fall right off the bone.
11) Season your reduced cooking liquid to taste and return shredded pork to the pot, mixing it all together.
12) Serve, with guacamole, cilantro, and corn tortillas.

This recipe already uses two beers. Either would work fantastic with these pork tacos. ANY beer in the WORLD would go well with these pork tacos. Maybe have a Negro Modelo. Let me know how it goes.

You folks are seriously getting two for the price of one in this blog post. For brunch the next day, (serves two, feel free to double the recipe):

1 medium purple sweet potato, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1 cup braised pork shoulder
6 cups of water
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 eggs

1) Heat the oil and add the garlic, paprika and sweet potatoes. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is cooked through. Season to taste.
2) Meanwhile, add the vinegar to the water and bring to a boil. Crack the eggs into the water. Cook at a strong simmer for exactly 4 minutes for perfect runny-in-the-middle poached eggs, longer if you like a harder center.
3) Reheat the braised pork shoulder and layer it over the sweet potato, making a small nest in the center of the bowl. Sprinkle cilantro generously over all.
4) Remove the eggs from the boiling water after 4 minutes with a slotted spoon, placing the poached egg in the center of the hash. Season egg and serve.

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