February 13, 2011

Braised Pork, Ossobuco Style

We are seriously into braised meats. How come nobody let us in on this little secret earlier? Braising is amazing, because it uses fairly inexpensive cuts of meat (butts, shoulders, and shanks) and gives you incredibly rich, flavorful, and delicious dishes that are perfect served over some kind of flavor-absorbing carbohydrate (polenta, mashed potatoes, risotto, pasta - take your pick). It's not even that labor intensive - all you really need is some time. Chop up a few aromatic vegetables, add some seasonings, wine, stock, and tomatoes, add them to the meat, put them in the oven, and let magic happen.

Riva Cucina is our neighborhood Italian restaurant. We like it there. It's quiet and calm, they know our names, they really know how to make good pasta, and they introduced us to pork ossobuco. Ossobuco is a traditional Italian dish (specifically, from Milan) made with veal shank served over risotto alla milanese (that's also from Milan. Get it?). However you might feel about eating veal, this dish is just as tasty made with pork butt/shoulder (oddly, the "butt" is part of the shoulder). We did make the risotto the first time we tried this out (this epicurious recipe leaves out the traditional ingredient of bone marrow, which we are sure would make it very tasty but honestly there is enough richness and savoriness that you can certainly do without it). This time around we had it over polenta. Both are excellent.

Once you get the idea of braising, you can try it with all sorts of meats and flavors. In fact, as we write this dish up, we've got some lamb shanks braising in the oven with middle eastern spices, and are going to eat it with Israeli couscous.

We checked out a few recipes for inspiration, but the most helpful were Marcella Hazan's traditional Ossobuco, and the Reluctant Gourmet's Pork Osso Buco.

Pork Ossobuco (serves 4-5)

- 3 lbs pork butt (aka "shoulder")
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil, for cooking
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 15 oz can of tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup vegetable stock (or substitute any other kind of stock)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs of thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the pork, and heat some olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Brown the pork on all sides, then transfer it to a casserole (one that has a lid).

Add the vegetables to the skillet and cook them just until they soften, then add the wine and deglaze the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let most of the wine cook out, then add the stock and chopped tomatoes with bay leaves and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil again, then pour it over the pork in the casserole dish.

Put the lid on the casserole and put the pork in the oven. Cook it for about three hours, or until the pork is tender and falling over the bone. Serve over polenta or your choice of flavor-absorbing carb, and spoon plenty of the liquid and vegetables from the pan on top.

1 comment:

  1. This looks easy to make and delicious...good color in pics!