Monday, November 16, 2009

Braised Pork Shoulder with Cardamom & Ginger

Cooking can be at its most fun when you don't give a damn. It can also be at its most educational. With a good combination of ingredients and good technique, a recipe doesn't need to offer any more than a little inspiration. This pork dish was inspired by a recipe I came across in Molly Stevens' All About Braising, while looking for ways to cook a pork shoulder roast I had purchased at Whole Foods. Stevens' recipe called for dried apricots to be added to the sauce, but being the lazy Sunday that it was, I decided against a second trip to the store to purchase apricots. Eventually, my straying from Stevens' recipe turned into all-out rebellion. It's a very loose interpretation of the original recipe, but it worked and I had fun preparing it.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Cardamom & Ginger
Serves 6


  • 1 5 lb boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed and tied with butcher's twine into a neat log
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1.4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and generously season it with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a dutch over over medium heat. Add the pork and cook until well browned on all sides, approximately 20 minutes. Remove the pork to a plate.
  4. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of fat from the pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and cardamom, turmeric, and cayenne and cook until the vegetables soften and the spices are fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the ginger and bay leaf to the pan and cook for another two minutes.
  6. Pour in the brandy and stir with a wooden spoon to stir up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Boil until the brandy is reduced by half, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the vermouth to the pan and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
  8. Stir in the stock and bring to a slow simmer.
  9. Add the pork to the dutch oven. Baste the pork with the braising liquid and cover the dutch oven. Place in the oven. Every 30 minutes, turn the pork and baste it with the braising liquid. Cook until the pork is very tender, approximately 2 hours.
  10. Remove the pork from the dutch oven and let it rest on a plate for at ten minutes. Meanwhile, keep the braising liquid at a simmer. The liquid should not be thick, but if it appears too watery, boil it for a few minutes until it reaches its desired consistency. Taste it for salt and pepper.
  11. Serve the pork with the braising liquid spooned on top and garnished with the cilantro.

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