• Kate

Braised Pork Shoulder With Parmesan Cheese Polenta

As I have mentioned, I am relatively busy. Not having a copious amount of time at home can really limit what I want to make for dinner on these Wednesdays. Especially if I want to braise a pork shoulder that just falls off the bone. I know what you are thinking; get a slow cooker, pop that sucker in and just leave it be as you go to work. I do not have a slow cooker (Gasp!) and I don’t think I want one (Double Gasp!).

For one, I don’t have room for appliances on appliances and my coffee pot takes precedence over anything else. Slow Cookers/Crock Pots are large and space is limited.

Second, I don’t like to be so passive in my cooking. Wow, isn’t that pretentious? It may be, but I enjoy being home and inhaling the sweet aroma of whatever I am cooking. I like standing over a pot and tasting every few hours to see if I need to make an adjustment. And pulling my pork shoulder out of the oven every hour to baste it, was a little magical each time.

In summation, I stick to my Dutch Oven and had to spend my Sunday home braising the pork shoulder for my Wednesday dinner. I regret nothing.

For the Pork Shoulder

  • 5LB Bone In Pork Shoulder

  • 1 Tsp Cumin

  • 1 Tsp Salt

  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder

  • 1 Tsp Pepper

  • 1 Tsp Thyme

  • 1 Medium Onion, Sliced

  • Olive Oil

  • 1 ½ C Red Wine

  • 16 Oz Vegetable Broth

Servings: 6

Active Cooking Time: About 5 Hours

I like to make sure my meat is at room temperature before working with it. If your meat is cold it runs the risk of not cooking evenly and as the meat heats up in the pan it can sweat and prohibit browning. I simply left the shoulder on my counter (unwrapped) once I got home from the store and let it sit for 2 hours.

In a small bowl combine seasonings and mix together. Generously season all sides of your pork, using your hands to rub into all of the crevices. Let stand for another hour.

While your meat is resting and given the opportunity to allow your seasonings to permeate and tenderize the muscle fibers preheat your oven to 375℉, place rack in the bottom of your oven and remove any racks if necessary to ensure Dutch Oven fits with no trouble.

Place Dutch Oven on high heat and allow to get hot. Be sure to heat the pot before adding your olive oil, we don’t want to cause our oil to smoke.

Gently lay shoulder in your Dutch Oven with tongs, be careful of the sides. Leave alone for a few minutes, until meat begins to brown, using tongs flip your meat. I am not going to lie, I was struggling a bit to turn this honking thing so be careful and go slow if it is difficult to get a solid grip. Brown all sides (and I mean all sides), there are 6 sides to this beast and it could get tricky on a few of them.

Once all sides are a nice crispy brown remove from pot and set aside on a plate. I needed to use my tongs as well as a spatula. It is not cooked through and will have a lot of give around its bone.

Lower heat, remove all but a single Tsp of accumulated fat but leave all the goodies that have cooked into the bottom of your pot. Toss in sliced onion with a sprinkling of salt. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally until onions have gone past translucent and headed toward caramelized.

Pour in wine and use a wooden spoon to gently scrape those goodies off the bottom of the pot. Bring wine to a simmer and reduce down to about 1 C. Moving onions to the side, return meat to the pot fat side up, this allows the fat to continuously baste the pork as it cooks.

Cook covered for 4 hours, basting every hour. Meat should be able to pull apart easily with two forks.

At the end of this endeavor, I was left with mostly grease and maybe a half a cup of Au Jus. I had plans to use this as a base to create a sauce for when I heat my pork back up. I knew I needed to separate the fat and put all liquid into a mug. From here I was able to begin to slowly pour out the liquid (the fat is a different density therefore that flowed out first while my Au Jus remained at the bottom of the mug). I was almost done. And I dropped it all down the sink. I swear I almost cried, what was I to do!

Well, first if this ever happens, pour vinegar and baking soda down your sink to flush out your pipes. Next, solve the Au Jus issue. I took the bone from my pork shoulder and returned it to my Dutch Oven, luckily I did not clean it so it still had all my cooking flavors. With the bone, I tossed in a half an onion roughly chopped, 3 C of water, 1 C wine, salt, pepper, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, and Cumin. I left this over a simmer for an hour and allowed it to reduce down to about half. Store in an airtight container.

On the Day Of place the desired amount into a hot skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. This will also provide a few more crispy edges that will give a good crunch. Once warm add in are stand-in Au Jus. coat meat in liquid and continue to cook until just warm. Serve over Polenta and spoon Au Jus over top.

For The Parmesan Polenta

  • 1 Package Polenta roll

  • 1 C Vegetable Broth

  • ½ C Parmesan Cheese

  • Paprika

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

On the day of: I purchased a packaged polenta roll, perfect for making neat and even disks. However, I realized that is not what I want. I wanted a parmesan polenta, a creamy vessel for my pork. Instead of slicing into disks simply cut into cubes. In a medium saucepan combine vegetable stock and polenta cubes, bring to a simmer until soft (about 5 Minutes) and mash away. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and serve.

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