When I get a new cookbook, sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to decide what to make first because the whole darn thing looks so friggin’ amazing. When that happens, I either set it back on the shelf and realize a few weeks later that I haven’t even used it yet and feel rather foolish; or, I will just pick a recipe at random and make it no matter what.
But other times when I get a new cookbook, one or two recipes will jump out at me, and they will continue to call my name and nag at me until I make them come to life in my kitchen. When I got Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen for Christmas, of course I excitedly flipped through it, and discovered it was going to fall squarely in the latter category of new cookbooks. That is, one recipe in particular jumped out at me and consumed my thoughts and dreams until I created it in my own kitchen. That recipe, my friends, is a pork shoulder braised in blood orange juice.
So I suppose it’s quite fortuitous that I received this book around Christmastime, because blood orange season occurs shortly thereafter. It’s still blood orange season for a few more weeks, so I highly advise you to go out and make this one while you still can. There are no words to describe how utterly amazing it was! But I’ll try.
It was impossibly moist, melt-in-your-mouth tender strands of pork; it was food-gasmic, explosively flavored sauce; it was rich and warm and comforting on a cold night; it was fight-over-the-leftovers fare. In a word, it was awesome. Make it soon, you’ll love it!
Source: adapted from Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollenkamp
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbs kosher salt
1 (3 1/2 – 4 lb.) boneless pork shoulder (sometimes labeled Boston butt), tied with kitchen twine to make a uniform roast shape
2 tbs canola oil
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup whiskey
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
12 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
15 black peppercorns
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 yellow onions, cut into eighths
A few fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Arrange a rack in the middle.
Combine the brown sugar and salt in a small bowl; mix well. Rub the mixture all over the pork and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
When ready, heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it is just beginning to smoke. Add the pork and sear on all sides, moving only to rotate, until nicely browned on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Add the orange juice, stock, whiskey, soy sauce, and vinegar to the pot and scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate any browned bits clinging to the bottom. When the liquid boils, decrease the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, thyme, onions and the pork.
Once the liquid is at a simmer, cover with aluminum foil, then with the pot’s cover, and place in the oven. Cook until the pork is fork-tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Baste once or twice during the cooking process.
When the pork is ready, carefully remove it with tongs to a plate. Shred the meat with two forks.
Discard the solids in the meat juices with a slotted spoon and boil for a few minutes until it is to your desired thickness. Place the shredded pork back in the sauce and stir to combine and heat through again. Shut off the heat, and serve immediately, garnished with the thyme leaves.
Suggestions: serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or mashed parsnips.