Mother Nature really gave it to us this past week here north of Chicago (or should I say Chiberia). First it was 48 hours of a non-stop snow storm that left us with almost 2 feet of snow. Then came the wind, a slight thaw, ice, more snow and wind, and then... a huge plunge in temperature. Let's just say that a -50ºF wind chill is pretty darn cold and the holiday break was extended for my children for a few more days.
Backing up a few days to Sunday when we were busy shoveling and salting, I needed a Sunday dinner that basically cooked itself. In comes this little beauty of a recipe. Throw all the ingredients in a large pot, shove it in the oven, and let it cook low and slow for several hours until tender and falling off the bone.
The original recipe called for cutting slits into the meat and stuffing them with slivers of garlic and thyme, but I find that really isn't necessary when the meat is braising for that amount of time. The recipe also called for just two onions (?). Since we love our onions, I triple the amount so that each and every bite of pork is accompanied with a braised sliced of onion or two. The braising liquid is thickened with a cooked butter and flour mixture (called a roux). It becomes a velvety sauce to dress and serve with the meat and onions. It is wonderful the day is is made, but it can be made up to two days in advance. Any leftovers are excellent when cooked in a cast-iron skillet to achieve a crunchy carnita-like texture.
Braised Pork Hash
1 (5-6 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 large garlic cloves, minced
8 dried bay leaves
6 medium yellow onions, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
3 cups dry white wine
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Position an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 325º F.
Place the pork (fat side up) in a large dutch oven. Season with the salt and pepper. Scatter the thyme, garlic, bay leaves, and onion around the meat. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cover the meat with a round of parchment paper and then with a tight fitting lid. Place the pot in the oven to braise until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone, about 4-5 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven and cool, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Transfer the pork to a platter, tent with a sheet of foil, and cool completely. Remove the thyme and bay leaves from the braising liquid. Strain the braising liquid into a bowl; reserve the onions. Skim off any fat from the braising liquid. If there are more than 2 cups of liquid, simmer gently in a pot until reduced. If less than 2 cups, add chicken broth.
Once cool, trim any excess fat from the pork and remove the meat from the bone. Shred the meat into 1 1/2 inch pieces and return to the pot with the onions. Bring the braising liquid to a simmer in a small saucepan.
In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat until foaming. Stir in the flour and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until light to medium brown in color, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk the braising liquid into the roux, whisking constantly, and cook until thickened. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper. Spoon about 1 cup of the sauce over the meat and onions and cook over medium-low heat until warmed through. Serve the remaining sauce on the side. (Braised pork can be made 2 days ahead. Chill the meat and onions with 1 cup of sauce and chill remaining sauce separately.) Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Gourmet, January 2008