I love my slow cooker and I use it every chance I get, but when I have a little more time to mess around in the kitchen and I don’t need to prepare dinner 8 hours in advance, I often turn to braising when I want that slow cooked taste. When you braise meat or veggies, you’re essentially turning a pot on the stove or the pot in your oven into a slow cooker. Braising involves browning the meat quickly with some oil, adding some liquid and then simmering the mixture over low heat. Braising can turn more economical, tough cuts of meat into tender, luscious morsels and the slow cook time helps flavor the meat through and through.
I ran across this pork shoulder recipe in this month’s Bon Appetit magazine. I changed it up just a bit, to suit our family’s taste, and it ended up being a dinner to remember.
Early in the day, I started by cutting up a three-pound boneless pork shoulder roast into 2-inch chunks. Then, I mixed together a dry spice rub. The spices were deliciously warm: ginger, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, salt, and a hint of dark brown sugar.
I mixed the spices together and then poured them over the pork. I tossed the pork pieces in the spices, making sure they were well coated, covered the bowl and let the meat and spices mingle in the fridge for about 8 hours. You could easily do this the night before, though, and it would only make the finished product even tastier!
A couple of hours before I was planning on having dinner, I removed the pork from the fridge and quickly seared it up in batches in just a little bit of olive oil.
After the meat was all browned up, I added some sliced onions to the pot and cooked them for just a few minutes, until they softened up. Once soft, I deglazed the pan with some white wine and made sure all of those yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan were worked back into the sauce. Then I added some chicken broth and the pork went back into the pot.
I covered the pot with a tight-fitting lid, turned the heat down to low and just let it simmer away for two hours. I stirred it a couple of times, just to make sure the flavors were evenly distributed, but other than that, it was hands off.
After two hours, I removed the pork from the pot and added a little cornstarch and water to thicken up the sauce just a tad. Once the sauce was done, we were ready to go! I served the pork and sauce over mashed potatoes. It was a wonderfully warm winter meal and we all enjoyed it! The pork was cooked perfectly, spiced to perfection, and so flavorful. It’s a keeper!
BRAISED PORK SHOULDER WITH WARM SPICES
Adapted from Bon Appetit
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 – 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 lb. boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt) trimmed and cut into 2″ cubes
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 4 cups sliced onions (about 2 large onions)
- 1 1/2 cups fruity white wine (Pinot Gris or Chenin Blanc)
- 2 cups low salt chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. water
- In a small bowl, mix together the first 8 ingredients. Pour the spice mixture over the pork pieces and mix together, thoroughly coating the pork with the spices. Cover and chill, at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. In batches, brown the meat on all sides, lowering the heat if the meat begins to scorch, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer pork to a medium bowl.
- Once all of the pork is browned, add the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the pot. Add the onions and saute until slightly softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Add the wine. Cook, scraping up the browned bits, until reduced by half, about two minutes. Add the broth and return the pork to the pot.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until pork is tender, about 2 hours. Stir occasionally.
- Remove pork from the sauce and keep warm. Mix together the cornstarch and water and pour it into the sauce. Bring the sauce up to a boil and let it thicken just a bit. Serve the pork with the sauce.
- **This can be made up to two days ahead! Chill the pork and sauce separately and reheat together before serving.