There are some recipes that you just know are going to be good from the start, and others that you are completely unsure about. And then there are those ones that fall somewhere in the middle. This recipe for Braised Pork would fall into the latter category.
A date with a spin bike meant that dinner needed to be ready by the time we walked in the door from the gym. Otherwise it’s just too late being a school night. When I saw Melissa d’Arabian make this recipe the other day, I knew it fit my criteria. Ten minutes of chopping a few simple ingredients. Browning the meat. Braising in the oven for 3 hours. Folks, I don’t know that it gets simpler than this. And the taste is anything but simple.
Around the second hour of braising, I peeked into the oven to see how it was coming along, and, quite frankly, it didn’t look like much. I took a taste of the sauce and managed to burn my tongue. But it was so good, I went back for another taste, sacrificing the feeling on my tongue in one fell swoop. As far as the meat? Something magical happens in the third hour.
When it was nearly done, I sent a text message to one of our neighbors. Under the Borrow Someone’s Husband Act, they were very helpful the night before and I owed them. “Do you have dinner figured out for tonight yet?” No, came the answer. “Perfect. I’ll send Nick over with dinner when we head out to the gym.” Earlier that day, one of our cats (who has, over the past few months, become sort of an outside cat) very nicely left me a present. On our front steps. Like, right in the middle of them. Care to guess? This time, the present was a dead chipmunk. Ick. The last two presents were mice. Now I’m wondering if this is even an ok topic when discussing dinner and braised pork, but it might be too late. So, the mice I can barely handle getting rid of myself. Chipmunks are another story entirely. A plea to said neighbors and the husband took care of the present for me. Hence, dinner the next night. It seems a fair trade-off, no?
This pork is total comfort food. Like, it doesn’t get better than this. Our summer season seems to have (temporarily?) ended rather abruptly and with it, some chill has settled in. This is the food that the weather calls for, make no bones about it. Put a dollop (or three) of yesterday’s mashers on a plate, and then this braised pork and a little of the sauce … oh my word.
As far as the kids? Madeline wasn’t a fan, and happily ate a Summer Vegetable Pasta recipe I made Sunday night. Nick, however, barely came up for air, and only did to ask for another helping. This from the kid that doesn’t like potatoes of any kind. Ate the potatoes. The meat. The sauce. Twice over.
And better still? This meal is yours for under ten bucks. I kid you not. Maybe even less, depending on if you have some ingredients already in your pantry. Make it. I am imploring you. When you want to be warmed up from the inside out. When you want someone to think you slaved all day over a hot stove. But really didn’t. Make this.
A year ago today… I had very nearly forgotten about these to-die-for peanut butter cookies.
Two years ago today … The Barefoot Contessa and Banana Pancakes.
Four years ago today … one of our favorite Italian cookbooks.
Five years ago today … still going strong with The Neighbors, but oy those picture-taking skills!
This is what my dining room table currently looks like. Awash in multi-colored, sparkly glittered butterflies for my latest project for Disney … a No Sew Butterfly Catcher Costume.
Succulent Braised Pork
Recipe courtesy of Melissa d’Arabian and Ten Dollar Dinners
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks (I also cut off most of the extra fat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1-1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string (I skipped)
2 bay leaves
1 cup water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.
Serves 4 (I would be hard-pressed to recommend this for four adults. Three would be safer.)