This is a good one, guys. Not only does Celina share her latest glorious recipe find (which I got to eat, and it is as juicy tender yummy fabulous as it sounds), but she even came up with a plan on what to do with the leftovers! Tell me what in hades sounds better than a flippin’ pork pizza?! Nothing, that’s what! You’re welcome.
Braised Pork Shoulder with Rhubarb and Peas
by Celina Dean
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine April 2011
I love my Food and Wine and Everyday Food magazine subscriptions. They’re like happy and dependable monthly prezzies! My favorite thing is to hunker down in the evening with a glass of wine or tea but especially wine (you know the company I keep so hush up) and read them slowly from cover to cover. I dog ear the recipes that look lovely to me, leave them around my kitchen counter and return to them for inspiration throughout the month. This month’s Food and Wine? Hot springgity dog!- there’s so much in season that I want to cook. While my husband was away (damn him) I needed someone to cook for and I knew that Jewel, Matt and my best pal Martin would be cool with eating some of it. I cut down the amount of fresh fennel and red pepper to my taste, but pretty much followed their recipe to the letter. (Bonus Round: Psst! 4 of us ate and there were still leftovers, well except for the peas, sweet, sweet leftovers! There are infinite-licious ways to deal with these, but I’ve listed one below that pleased me.)
Here’s to welcoming spring with dear friends and happy and dependable monthly gifts.
1 3lb pork boneless pork shoulder
1 tsp. salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tbsp. pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 tbsp. each, ground coriander, fennel, crushed red pepper*
¼ cup olive oil
1 each, onion and carrot, thinly sliced
½ fennel bulb, halved, cored, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs
6 garlic cloves smashed, plus 3 cloves sliced
3 bay leaves
2 cups dry red wine
1 qt. chicken stock
1 lb. rhubarb, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tbsp. sugar
Two strips lemon zest- pinkie sized
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
6 thyme sprigs
2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
*You know those salt and pepper mills that you can buy pre-loaded at the grocery store? If you clean them out once they’re empty, they’re reusable. I crush spices for Indian recipes this way, and it works perfect for grinding the coriander, fennel and red pepper in this recipe (if you happen to buy them whole and don’t want to spend money to get the pre-crushed kind, like me). It’s a coarser grind to be certain, but that’s a delicious thing.
What to do:
1) Combine spices and rub all over the pork.
2) Heat 2 tbsp. oil in large enameled cast iron casserole (ideally- I used a 3.5 qt. which was a bit small but doable… really anything with a lid that’s safe to go from the stove top into the oven should work) until shimmering, and brown the pork on all sides- about 15 min. Transfer pork to a plate.
3) Preheat oven to 325. Add onion, carrot, fennel, celery, smashed garlic, and 1 bay leaf. Cover and cook on low till the onions soften, then uncover and cook on high until golden- 6 min total. Add wine and reduce to a ¼ cup, about 15 min. Add stock and bring to a boil.
4) Return pork to pot. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 and some hours- the longer the tenderier. Transfer pork to a cutting board. Strain the braising liquid, discard the solids and skim off as much fat as you have patience for.
5) Meanwhile in a baking dish, combine rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme and 2 bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, cover with parchment and foil and bake for 30 min until rhubarb is tender but not completely broken down. Discard zest, thyme and bay leaves.
6) Don’t forget the peas! (…like I did until we were already seated and something beautiful and green was obviously missing from the plate). In a medium skillet, heat remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil, add the peas and garlic and cook for 4 min. Season with salt and pepper.
7) Serve pork on a platter with a drizzle of braising liquid over top, alongside rhubarb and peas with extra braising liquid in a ramekin or jam jar or what have you. Let Jewel, Matt and Martin help themselves. Friend Style!
Bonus Round- Welcome Home Leftovers!
If your fella/lady/best pal/fill-in-the-excuse is coming home and you want to help remind him why a month apart is too damn long, make Braised Pork and Rhubarb Pizza!
Guys, this might sound like a crazy combo, but unlike the banana and scallop dish I once sampled at a schmancy restaurant in Vegas, this works! The pork is deliciously fatty so the tart acid from the rhubarb and creaminess from the cheese cuts through it all and makes for some mouth magic.
1) Get some dough (options: make it- it’s easy, I promise!, buy it at Trader Joe’s or go to the bakery section of your local supermarket and ask them for some dough from their sandwich bread. They’ll look at you funny, not know how much to charge you… and in exchange you get excellent pizza crust in your own home!). Preheat the oven to as high as you’re comfortable with- 450 for me, with an upside down cookie sheet inside.
2) Finely slice an onion and cook it down in a good couple glugs of olive oil until soft and melty and golden.
3) Heat some left over sliced pork in a pan on the stove, about ¾ cup.
4) Roll out the dough on a sheet of parchment (I like mine quite thin). Paint the crust with the olive oil from the onions. Spread the onions on top, followed by the pork. Sprinkle with your favorite cheese (I used Parmesan and a pre-shredded Kraft Italian five blend, because it was lurking in the recesses of my fridge.) Blob the now completely broken down rhubarb over top.
5) Slide parchment paper and pizza into the oven and onto cookie sheet- bake for 10ish minutes, until cooked to your liking (look for a browned and crisp crust and slightly golden cheese).
6) Remove from oven, top with shredded dark lettuce (or whatever’s popping up in your garden or hanging around your crisper), sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper (the more coarse, the better- it makes a difference!). Consume with your partner and make sure that, should they plan to leave the country for a month in the future, you’re to come too. Leftover Key Lime pie is also helpful in this negotiation.