Braised Pork Shoulder and Porchetta Sandwiches

by Cate on October 14, 2010

Braised Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder recipes are a funny thing.  At least the past few that I have made.  Most of the recipes I’ve used recently call for a few hours in the oven, and during more than half of that time I’m convinced that the recipe is going to be a massive fail.  The Succulent Braised Pork from Melissa D’Arabian a few weeks back is an excellent example, as is the recipe I made this past Sunday.

But I’ve noticed something magical happens in the last hour of cooking the pork.

It all comes together beautifully.  In a way that almost takes your breath away.

The recipe I made Sunday was from the October issue of Martha Stewart Living (and as an aside, their recipe search box leaves a lot to be desired. After twenty minutes, I gave up searching for these two recipes and retyped them below.  It shouldn’t be that difficult to find recipes from the current issue.  Just sayin’).  I made this particular recipe for two reasons.  One, I like a “cook all afternoon” recipe for a not-really-but-should-have-been-lazy Sunday afternoon, and two, the article also featured recipes to use up the leftovers, recipes that didn’t resemble the original dish.  Love that.

Company was due at 6 pm, and by 5:15, I was seriously second-guessing my decision to try this recipe, particularly a new one, when we had guests coming.  Any good hostess worth her salt will tell you that it’s good to have a few tried-and-trues and not have your main course be something you’ve never made or served before.  I never was one to follow the rules.

Towards the end of the cooking time, when hope was quickly fading, I decided that I could always fall back on a quick pasta dish or call out for pizza.  But then something magical happened.  As it always does with pork shoulder or pork butt.

It all came together.

And thank goodness it did.

It was tender.  Succulent.  And fall-off-the-bone good.  And for something that literally took minutes of prep work.

Paired with root vegetables that I bought from the farmers’ market that very morning, and roasted, it was the perfect Fall meal.

OMG Good

And the recreation of the leftovers the next day?  Open-Faced Porchetta Sandwiches with Caramelized Apples.  Holy mother of pork, THAT recipe is reason enough to make the first recipe.  Like, seriously, OMG good.  The second recipe blows the first one out of the water.  Treat yourself, and your family, and make it.  I swear you’ll be hooked on it too.

P.S.  As an update to the story I shared about the wonderful kids on the football team yesterday, after a conversation today with a few parents, I learned even more… The team I told you about was the JV team.  When the Varsity team got wind of what they were doing, they wanted to do something too, and at their next game, each of their football helmets sported a pink sticker to show their support, and the cheerleaders, not to be outdone, added pink extensions to their hair.  A hairdresser charged the girls $5 to add a pink extension to their hair, and then donated the money to breast cancer research.  Such heartwarming gestures from all.

Project 365
October 14, 2010, Photo #179


This weekend brought about a few firsts for me. One, I’ll share. I used the mens’ restroom for the first time ever. Surprisingly it was spotless, especially as compared to the womens’ restroom. Color me shocked. I think there might actually be a contraband picture of me coming out of the mens’ restroom, but what happens on Girls Night Out … stays there.

Braised Pork Shoulder
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living, October 2010

6 oz pancetta, finely chopped
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 bone-in pork shoulder (6-7 lbs), skin on, room temperature
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, minced
2 t fennel seeds, toasted and ground (I skipped)
1 t crushed coriander seeds
2 cups Belgian-style ale (I used a Mexican beer I found buried in the fridge)
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Preheat oven to 300.  Crisp pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, until fat is rendered, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Add onions to Dutch oven.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 25 minutes.  Transfer to plate using slotted spoon.

Season pork with salt and pepper.  Add oil to Dutch oven, and sear pork, fat side down, until golden, about five minutes.  Flip, and repeat.

Add garlic and spices to pot.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add ale, stock, pancetta and onion and bring to simmer.  Transfer to oven, and braise pork, covered, basting every hour, until meat is falling off the bone, about four hours.  Shred meat (just what you’re using) using 2 forks, and drizzle with warm skimmed jus.

Serves 8.

Open-Faced Porchetta Sandwich with Caramelized Apples
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living, October 2010

Melt 2 T unsalted butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook 2 apples (cored and cut into 1/2-inch wedges), 3 T sugar, and 1 T water, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft and sauce has caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Top 4 slices toasted rustic bread with some heated reserved shredded pork, reserved onions from jus, and the apples.  Sprinkle with some watercress, and drizzle with caramelized sauce from apples and the heated reserved jus.  Makes 4.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne October 15, 2010 at 6:15 am

I hate following the rules when people come over. Walk on the wild side, I say. And if it’s an epic fail? Sushi takeout for all!

This pork was obviously totally NOT a fail however. And that porchetta sandwich? Well, I’m already en route to go buy some pork shoulder. So good.


The Neighbor Wife October 15, 2010 at 9:29 am

ok please tell me you were drunk when you used the Men’s bathroom. I’ve only done it once. It was when I was 25 at a Jimmy Buffet concert. Need I say more..


Ramona October 15, 2010 at 11:58 am

Looks good. Glad it turned out great for ya.

Sounds like all the kids did a good job on making it a memorable event.


Steph October 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I wish I was your “company” the night you served this! Looks and sounds scumptious. :)

Also, I responded to your convo in my etsy shop about the “family” blocks from the Anderson Fundraiser. I haven’t heard anything back from you so I just wanted to make sure that you were getting the convos. I had an issue with mail through etsy getting lost in the web once before so now I always worry about that. :)


Sasa October 17, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I did this (made it the first time when guests were coming I mean) with pork belly and hovered the entire time it was cooking but it worked too! I always use the men’s if the women’s is crowded, it’s my secret trick – who wants to wait in line all night, total waste of life.


Sondra October 19, 2010 at 8:43 am

Thanks so much for posting these recipes. I tried to download them from the Martha Stewart Living website but couldn’t even find the recipes, let alone do anything with them. I am really looking forward to trying them after hearing how well yours turned out.


crockchef March 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Recipe renders beautifully in crockpot, I omit the chicken stock and use 1 regular size bottle of imported beer . Mexican is usually cheapest. Takes about 5 hrs. I cook in on high for the first 2hours reducing it to low after that.

Re: Men’s washroom. I use men’s rooms if they have a single stall and you can lock themain door whenever the womens has a line and im desperate.
I lived in Italy. There, men and women use same facilities, butthey were still more private than the executive loo you saw in Ally McBeal


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