Sunday dinner: I cheated on pork, once. Once.

Oh, pork, how I love you, let me count the ways.

Dr. Chop told me that I needed to get back on the pork bandwagon, and as Strategery suggested last week this time of year calls out for good, old fashioned, roasts, stews and braises. Tonight, I went with an apple cider braised pork shoulder with caramelized onions, wilted kale (with bacon(!)), and roasted sweet potatoes. I'm really a fan of pork fat. Which is probably a problem for my waistline, but, what the hell, I'd rather eat well and die young than grow old and have culinary regrets.

You'll need:

A pork shoulder roast - 3-4 lbs (ish) bone in preferable.
3/4 cup unfiltered apple cider
1 large yellow onion sliced
2 cloves garlic
a tablespoon or so of oil
spice rub of your choice, I go with 1 part salt, 1 part black pepper, 1 part red chili powder, 1 part brown sugar, 1 part cumin, garlic powder to taste

You can do this in a dutch oven, but I prefer to do the heavy lifting in the crock pot. Rub the meat with spice mixture the night before you intend to cook. Remove excess fat and pierce the roast in several places. Slice the garlic into slivers and place them into the holes you have pierced into the roast. Add the oil to a pan over medium high heat, and brown the roast on all sides. As you brown the last side add the sliced onions to the pan. Once the onion has softened and is turning transparent dump the whole works into the crock pot and add the apple cider. Cook on medium / low for 3-5 hours until the bone falls out and the meat shreds without effort. Once the meat is done I defat the pan juice, shred the roast, and crisp it up in the cast iron skillet adding the pan juice at the last minute to loosen the fond from the bottom of the pan. [edit] I had way more sauce than I expected. After removing the fat I added the sauce to the pan and had to reduce by boiling, not really a problem, just thought you should know.

Slice up a couple pieces of bacon, fry the bits and remove once they are done to your crispiness taste, and drain all but about a tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Wilt the kale over medium high heat by adding half the bunch and tossing in the bacon fat, and the other second half with a splash of water when the first half is nearly wilted. Cook till the whole mess looks like it's done, and then add the bacon bits back into the pan. [edit] this is the first time I've tried to wilt kale, and let me tell you... This is one hardy green. I needed way more heat than I though necessary and a fair bit more water than the swiss chard, just fyi

Slice up the sweet potato and place them in a roasting pan. I prefer my sweet potato on the savory side, so I season them with chili powder, black pepper, and salt, but you can also do this on the sweet side with a little brown sugar (or sugar in the raw) or honey (although, typing this out makes me slightly enraged, just do it the savory way). I add a bit of the pan sauce and bacon fat to them, toss, and roast them at 400˚ until they're done.

Doc, enough aesthetic for you?

5 thoughts on “Sunday dinner: I cheated on pork, once. Once.”

  1. i had no idea i loved pork this much. also, talking like hj is great for when you have a sleeping baby in the other hand.

  2. I will tell you this, I wrote this out while waiting for the sweet potatoes to roast and who boy this was one perfect fall meal. The bitterness of the kale is excellently cut by the salt from the bacon, and paired excellently with the sweet apple cider tinted pork. The good Dr. made the call on the sweet potatoes, and boy did that pay off. All and all this one one that'll go into rotation as the late summer wanes into fall.

    Now I have to stay awake long enough to finish the baking the loaf of rye that I started way to late in the day.

  3. Highly aesthetic, meat, highly. I can see a beautiful plate in my mind's eye here.

    re: the kale. I'm sure you did this, but to remind the Citizens, you want to trim out the tough stems (usually the first few inches) before rough-chopping. I usually "steam-saute" kale, i.e., I put a lid on the saute pan. That way I don't need to add water.

    another thought -- there are quite a few different kales out there. One that tends to be more tender than the standard kale is called "Dino Kale" and has a kind of mottled dark purple-green look. It is delicious. you can often find it in the organic produce section of good grocery stores, at least in my area.

  4. A love letter to meat?

    In Praise of Pork.

    I went on a blind date with a guy who didn't eat pork. I know this because he had trolled my Facebook page and had seen that I was a "fan" of bacon. He confronted me and turned up his nose as I rhapsodized about the beauty of bacon. He told me why he didn't eat pork by quoting a 20-year-old Rakim rap song.

    We never went out again.

    Recently a friend came by my house, and I had just finished cooking my favorite Saturday snack of sliced avocado with crumbled bacon. The lingering smell of fat offended him. I had to tune out as he extolled the virtues of turkey bacon. Turkey bacon is crap.

    Pork bacon, on the other hand, makes me smile. The juiciness of a pork roast is more succulent than a pot roast. Broiled pork chops with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil is a quick, yet fine, meal. Luckily for me, pork is the "it" meat in many restaurants -- from pork belly to high-end pork rinds. Yes, there is such a thing as high-end pork rinds.

  5. This sounds awesome.

    The farmers market this weekend was full of fall veggies. I picked up some delicata squash, which I've never used before. I think I'll probably stuff and roast them.

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