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Braised pork shoulder w/ fennel and beer:

My intention was to slow cook a pork roast for pulled pork something or another on the grill this weekend but the weather had turned cooler so the itch to slow cook in the Dutch oven took hold.  I chose to braise that pork instead with some fennel and some beer.

What is braising?  Braising is a simple and wonderful way to make tough meats fall apart tender.  The basic concept is to cook the meat low and slow with some sort of liquid and added aromatics until falling apart tender.  It really is an anything goes type of meal, a little of this and I better use that before it goes bad.  For this one I used some I wanted to use fennel and an amber beer (Red Hooks ESB ale) which infused the meat with a wonderful favor.  Here is my Sunday meal:

  • 5 lb. pork shoulder roast (roast of your choosing)
  • 1 yellow onion quartered
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 2 carrots roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery roughly chopped
  • 4 roma tomatoes chopped and seeded
  • One whole fennel bulb and green stuff roughly chopped
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Hand full of cilantro chopped (optional)
  • 12 oz. can of stock (I used beef but you can use chicken or veggie stock if you wish)
  • 12 oz. amber or other kind of flavorful beer (Red Hook’s ESB)
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper as needed
  • Several Tbls. Or as needed corn starch for gravy

 

Preheat oven to 300° F. also start the Dutch oven on medium high on the stove top.  Add salt and pepper generously on the outside of the pork roast, add some olive oil to the Dutch oven and sear/brown all sides of the roast, 2-4 minutes per side.  When done remove the roast and set aside.  Add onions and garlic, cook for a few minutes, then add fennel and cook a little longer, then add carrots, celery and tomatoes, cook a few more minutes you just want to get them going.

Place roast back in, add stock and beer and rest of ingredients excluding the corn starch and place in oven.  Cook for 3 hours covered.  When done, remove roast and let rest for 15 mins. Remove 2-3 cups of braising liquid and grab some of the cooked veggies too and wiz up in a blender or food processer until smooth.  Disregard rest of spent veggies and bay leaves.  If any liquid remains you can save them in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Return the mixed up juices to Dutch oven and bring to boil and reduce for a few minutes.  Mean while mix a tablespoon of corn starch with a little cold water, enough to dissolve the corn starch.  Add to the boiling liquid while whisking and reduce heat a bit. Repeat until it has thickened to your liking, you should notice that the gravy has some body to it when it comes off of the whisk.  Keep in mind that it will thicken more as it cools a bit (I prefer to us corn starch instead of using flour, it is more silky that way but you could make a rue with equal parts flour and butter  and whisking it together before adding the liquid back in to thicken it up).   Use the gravy over the meat and some mashed potatoes!

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