Saturday, June 4, 2011

Recipe : Brasato di Maiale with Grilled Scallions

Braised pork shoulder, a classic Italian dish, the perfect comfort dish to brighten a cold and gloomy day ...

the ingredients.
2 pounds of pork shoulder
1 large yellow onion
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 small bunch of parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns
10-15 green scallions (first layer of skin removed with green shoots still attached)
½ bottle of medium-bodied red wine such as Sangiovese or Dolcetto
½ lemon
pecorino romano or parmesan for grating
1 tablespoons of red pepper flakes
olio nuovo or best quality extra virgin olive oil for finishing
(serves 4-6 as a main course)

Take the pork shoulder and trim off any excess fat. It’s okay to have some fat but remove any large fat pieces and discard. Cut the shoulder cross-wise into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Lightly salt the pieces on both sides and place into a clean bowl.

Pour the bottle of wine over the shoulder until it is just covered. Throw in the parsley whole and one bay leaf and the peppercorns. Let sit in the marinade for 2 hours or longer.

Remove from the marinade and place onto paper towels. Pat all sides to dry as much as possible. Retain the marinade for later. In a large Dutch oven over high heat bring 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the point of almost smoking. Carefully lay in the shoulder pieces. Work in batches so as not to overcrowd the pot. Caramelize the pieces on one side and then flip and lightly brown on the other. It’s very important that the first side is heavily caramelized as this will create all of the flavor. Once the pieces are ready remove them to a plate. Continue working in batches until all pieces are nicely browned.

Dice the yellow onion into medium pieces. Heat some olive oil in the pot and add onions to the pot. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Add the thyme leaves and sauté until soft (6-8 minutes).

Add the marinade to the pot and bring to a boil. Place the shoulder pieces into the pot and make sure they are covered (or almost covered) by the liquid. Be sure to add in the juices from the meat that have dripped onto the plate.

Once the whole thing has come to a boil turn down the heat to very low and cover. Simmer slowly for approximately 4 hours. Check periodically and give the meat a little stir and be sure to baste any exposed pieces with the liquid.

Once completely soft and falling apart, use a ladle to remove the fat that has risen to the surface. Before serving use a wooden spoon to press down and break the meat apart so that it’s almost shredded. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Right before serving, take the scallions and put them into either a large hot sauté pan with olive oil, under  the broiler or on a grill. Cook until tender and sprinkle with sea salt and lemon juice.

To serve, take a large platter and place the entire contents of the pot into the center. Sprinkle over the red pepper flakes. Drizzle the very good olive oil over the top. Grate some cheese over this. Take the green scallions and lay around the sides of the dish. Serve immediately.

Garlic mashed potatos make a great side dish. 

Buon appetito!

(adapted from the recipe for Brasato di Maiale Pugliese by Cook With James)

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