Chipotle Pork Shoulder Braise
1 3-4 lb pork shoulder, bone-in
1 tbsp mexican oregano
2 chipotle peppers, in adobo sauce
2 ancho chiles, seeds removed
1 tin of fire roasted tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
10 whole black peppercorns
Tonight’s dinner was an off-the-cuff mental mashup of braises I have historically done and some flavors I’ve been trying via Rick Bayless recipes. The results were delicious. The spicey sauce was rich and delicious — very much like a mole sauce but without chocolate. For tonight’s meal, I worked with a 3lb pork shoulder but I’ll often do these kinds of dishes with a bigger piece.
Preheat your oven to 290F or 300F. (it will be fine at either, but lower and slower is better if you have the time)
Heat up your dutch over on a high flame. Once the pot is hot, add a little oil and sear the sides of your pork shoulder. By the way, if your butcher leaves the fat on the pork shoulder, score it with a knife first one way, then perpendicular to the first cuts, but don’t take it off!
Once seared, remove the pork shoulder, turn the heat down to low and toss in the onions. It is actually a good thing for this dish for you to let the onions brown a bit with the very hot surface, so don’t over-stir them, but make sure they do not burn.
With a mortar and pestle, loosely grind the coriander seed, cumin and peppercorns, and mix those in along with the mexican oregano (a different herb from Italian oregano). Then add the garlic (you want to wait to this point to add the garlic so that the pot has cooled a bit and doesn’t instantly burn the garlic turning it bitter). Add in the ancho chiles and chipotle peppers (with a little of the adobo sauce if you got them from a tin).
Turn off the stove top heat and place the pork shoulder on top of the onions, fat side down.
Sprinkle the salt around, and add the tomatoes around the pork. You can fire roast your own tomatoes simply by charring them underneath your broiler, but I was pressed for time so simply used a tin of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes, which supermarkets around here have started to carry.
Pour in a beer — in this case I used a mexican-style lager. You want the liquid to be about a third of the way up the side of the pork. Add more beer or water if needed.
Cover your dutch oven, place in the oven and cook. About half-way through, turn the pork so that the fat side is up.
If you have a 2-3 lb pork shoulder, about 4 1/2 hours is enough. For a 5-6 lb shoulder, expect about 6 hours. You want the meat falling off the bone and easy to pull apart with a fork.
Move the pork to a cutting board and use two forks to pull it apart. Sprinkle with salt (and taste for salt).
Skim excess fat off the top of the liquid and vegetables in the pot, and then puree it with an immersion blender to create your sauce.
Serve with white rice and some lime pieces. The lime sweetens the dish and brings out the flavors even more.