Is there anything better than pork shoulder?

Although the weather begs to differ, it’s definitely starting to feel like fall, which generally means it’s the season for braising meat. Unctuous, tender meat that falls apart and melts in your mouth. One of my favorite cuts is pork shoulder. It’s massively flavorful, with the added bonus of nearly infinite versatility and ease. All you need to do is season it, sear all sides to a rust-colored crispy brown, drain the fat, add vegetables and other flavoring elements and a liquid about halfway up the meat. Pop it in the oven for a few hours, depending on how big it is, checking it periodically for tenderness. The best part about braising? It tastes like you’ve been in the kitchen all day when really the oven does most of the work. 

I often use a coarse mirepoix and fresh herbs, perhaps some wine or tea but not this time. Admittedly, it was a throw-together kind of dinner, but the ingredient mix seemed thoughtfully organic. I used star anise, black garlic, and pumpkin ale, to further along the fall theme, seasoning the pork simply with pink salt and white pepper. But what happened was a beautiful, deep marriage of spice, sweetness and richness.

Even better, I was able to reduce down the dark yummy liquid to a glaze! To pair with the pork, I made a buttery cauliflower mash and creamy red lentils with onion and almond. All it needed was a drizzle of the glaze, some chopped cilantro and mint to finish the plate. 


The depth of flavor was incredible, and although it looked like rich on top of rich on top of rich, it was hearty without being heavy. Which is just perfect for me. 

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