That's right. It's another recipe meant to help you turn Taco Tuesday into Taco Wednesday Through Sunday. This one is great for a crowd. If it's just you or two, go ahead and freeze the leftovers for a rainy day.
The best part about a braise is that you are rewarded so handsomely for leaving the oven on for a few hours. There’s not that much active work. Braised meat reheats well, so you can make it ahead of time for a big dinner or occasion. You can freeze pints of braised meat and pull them out for an easy, quick weeknight dinner. For this particular pork, I used the our recipe for salsa verde, for anyone following along at home.
We often see recipes advising you to reduce braising liquid to make a sauce. In our opinion, braising liquid that is properly seasoned--enough to really flavor the meat--is going to be WAY too salty when reduced. Instead, I'll save the braising liquid, chill it overnight, skim off and discard the fat, then add a little of the liquid back to the meat so it stays moist when reheated. If I have a quart of really good-tasting braising liquid, I’ll freeze it and use it as a base for my next pork braise.
Salsa verde braised pork shoulder
2 1/2-3 lbs pork shoulder
1 large onion, quartered, skin on
Stems of a whole bunch of cilantro
2 cups salsa verde (homemade is best, especially this one)
1 qt chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut the pork into 3 or 4 big chunks and cut off any giant waxy outer layers of fat. Salt the meat liberally. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a cast iron dutch oven (or any large oven-safe pot) until shimmering hot, then brown the meat well on both sides. Toss in the onions and cilantro stems. Add the stock and the salsa. Make sure everything’s mixed up and mostly under the water line. Bring it to a boil, then cover and throw it in the oven.
Cook for about 2 1/2 hours, checking occasionally. After pretty close to 2 1/2 hours, the meat will be not quite falling-apart-on-its-own, but will definitely shred when lightly encouraged.
Take the meat out of the braising liquid and let it cool until you can handle it, then pull into chunks. Scoop any remaining chunks of onion or stems out of the braising liquid and discard (a spider is a great tool for doing this). Unlike a stock, you don’t want to strain every bit out of this braising liquid. Refrigerate the meat and braising liquid.
The next day, scoop off excess solidified fat on top of the liquid and discard. Use a little of the braising liquid to moisten the meat while reheating, or mix some in before freezing.
Use the braised pork to make tacos, top beans and rice, or do pretty much whatever you like. We like ours with sweet pickled jalapenos and the slaw (recipes for both below). I’m eating a little leftover pork with some leftover roasted sweet potatoes, all crisped up in a skillet, for breakfast. Happy three-day-weekend to us all.
This slaw is so simple, I’m not even going to give amounts. You make as much or as little as you like. Because we served this with rich, spicy pork and sweet-spicy jalapenos, we wanted the slaw to be a clean, crunchy foil for the other ingredients.
A little oil
Chop the green cabbage. First cut wedges, then slice thinly. Slice a red onion into slivers. Grate a carrot or cut into matchsticks, depending on whether you find knifework annoying or relaxing. Chop a couple tablespoons of cilantro.
Put the cabbage, carrots, and onions in a bowl. Add a healthy pinch of salt and distribute it through with your hands, making sure everything is mixed up well. Let this sit for about 10 minutes. The salt will start to wilt the vegetables so they are not quite so aggressively raw. Then add a quick drizzle of oil and the juice of a lime or so. Crack in a little pepper. Toss together, taste, and add additional salt, pepper, and lime to taste. Make sure there’s plenty of bright lime flavor.
Serve on tacos, as pictured, or as a quick side.
Sweet and Spicy Pickled Jalapenos
(Recipe only just barely adapted from Mission Street Food)
1 lb jalapenos
1 1⁄2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
1⁄2 cup sugar
Slice the jalapenos into 1/8-inch coins. Put them in mason jars or a large bowl.
In a sauce pan, combine the vinegar, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and make sure the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the jalapenos. Let cool completely. Refrigerate overnight.