Braised Pork Shoulder with Mustard and Capers
Source: Georgeanne Brennan, cookbook author.
In early spring, it is still chilly enough in the evening to savor this comforting dish, served very hot with creamy potato gratin and ample bread and red wine. Cheeks are the very best cut for this dish, but shoulder works just as well because both cuts are meaty and tough, full of the connective tissue that, with long, slow oven-cooking, dissolves to create the thick sauce and spoon-tender meat that gives the dish its character.
Serves 4 to 6
2 ½ – 3 pounds pork shoulder (also called picnic ham)
1 slice lard (or use extra-virgin olive oil and butter)
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup leeks, chopped (white and light green part only)
2 carrots, each cut into 3 parts
⅓ bottle dry red wine
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 heaping tablespoon capers
Coarse sea salt and pepper for seasoning and taste
- Preheat the over to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pork into 2-inch pieces. Dry the pieces well and season with coarse sea salt and pepper. Using a Dutch oven, add the lard and render it over low heat. You should have enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan about one-quarter inch deep.
- When the fat has melted, increase the heat, and add a few pieces at a time; brown the meat on all sides. Once the pieces are brown, remove them and place in a bowl to the side for later use.
- To the fat in the Dutch oven, add the onions, leeks, and carrots. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion edges start to brown.
- Pour in the red wine and scrape the bits clinging to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Return the meat and the juices that have collected in the bowl to the Dutch oven, then stir in the rosemary.
- Cover the Dutch oven and put in the oven. Cook the pork, stirring from time to time, until it is tender enough to cut with a spoon and some of the pieces are slightly ragged. This will take about 3 hours.
- To finish, remove the carrots, and discard them, because they have given up their flavor to the sauce. Stir in the Dijon mustard and capers, plus a little more fresh rosemary. Serve it very hot. Any leftovers make a sumptuous sauce for pasta.