In case you were boohoo-ing over my fish feast debacle from the other day, fear not. I have redeemed myself, ladies and gentlemen. All because of a trip to the farmer’s market with Diana.
On Saturday it was nice out so I said, “Let’s go to the farmer’s market.” We hopped on an N train and rode to Union Square and got out and milled around for a while. “You know my problem,” I said, “is I come to the farmer’s market but then I never know what to buy.”
Just as we were about to go home empty handed, I saw the Flying Pigs farm stand and I remembered Ed Levine talking about Flying Pigs farm at lunch the other day. “He says it’s owned by a husband and wife,” I recalled, “and they raise pigs as a hobby.” I also remember him saying the pork there was truly excellent.
Well we studied the bin of meats, all of which were quite expensive, and were about to give up when I found the pork shoulder you see above.
“Pork shoulder,” I said. “We could braise this.”
But did I have a recipe? I didn’t remember. So I did something very natural, something more people should do at farmer’s markets across the country. I asked the man behind the stand (who was not the owner) if he had a recipe for pork shoulder.
“Actually,” he said. “We do.”
He opened a drawer and pulled out a piece of paper with two pork shoulder recipes on it, both by Amanda Hesser. The recipe I liked best was for “Braised Pork Shoulder with Garlic and Thyme.” We purchased the pork shoulder and then, just before getting on the subway, we spotted a table of blue potatoes.
“Let’s get blue potatoes,” said Diana. “We need something to serve with the pork.”
So we bought them also and headed home.
Once home, I ran to Key Foods to get the remaining ingredients. Here’s what you need to make this pork shoulder recipe: [credit Amanda Hesser]
1 piece of pork shoulder, bone in, 3 1/2 pounds
Freshly ground black pepper
5 large garlic cloves, skin left on and lightly crushed
2 carrots, unpeeled, diced
1 3-inch piece celery, diced
7 sprigs thyme
2 small sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs parsley, plus extra, chopped, for serving
1 small bay leaf
4 juniper berries (optional)
1/2 cup red wine, plus a splash to finish
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat an enamel-lined Dutch oven or casserole over medium high heat until hot. Season the pork generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Lay the pork fat-side down in the casserole…
...and brown it well, adjusting the heat so it doesn't scorch. Turn the pork with tongs and brown on all sides.
2. Remove the pork to a plate...[we let it get very brown, and I think we could even have let it get browner]...
…and pour off the fat from the casserole. Add the garlic, carrots, leek, celery, herbs and juniper berries.
Saute over medium heat until vegetables are browned on the edges and soft. Pour in the wine and scrape up the pan drippings. Lay the pork on top of the vegetables and add enough water to cover just 1/3 of the pork (about 2 cups).
Cover the pan with heavy duty foil and then the lid and put it in the oven. Braise the pork until it is very tender and falling from the bone, about 2 1/2 hours, turning the meat every half-hour (keep it on top of the vegetables) basting it with the juices.
3. When the pork is done, let it sit for 20 minutes or so (or even better, serve it the next day), then slice (it will probably fall apart more than slice) and arrange on a platter. Strain the pan juices through a sieve into a saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract all the juices. Pour off the fat, add a splash of wine, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Heat to boiling…
…and pour over the pork. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings with leftovers.
Meanwhile, we sliced the blue fingerling potatoes vertically, put them on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper, and some rosemary and put them in when there was an hour left on the pork. They weren’t brown enough, though, when the pork was done so we pumped the oven up to 450 and put them back in and they came out puffed, golden and beautiful. Check it out:
And check out the final plate:
This was an OUTRAGEOUSLY good dinner. Diana kept saying “oh my God” to herself as she ate and Craig did his enthusiastic “MMMMM” over and over again. Later, Diana said if there was more pork she could’ve kept eating it and eating it without stopping. It’s sort of like brisket but better.
And how wonderful that all this came about because of a spontaneous trip to the farmer’s market. Get yourself there this weekend and get yourself a pork shoulder to cry on.
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