Red Pork with Wine and Spices


I didn’t post a recipe this Thursday. Apologies for ruining your Thanksgiving. But here it is today, just two days late. This is a recipe for braised pork shoulder that I improvized in July and have been trying to get on the blog ever since. It finally made it through the poll for November. Do you people not like pork that much? Or are you just tired of my braised pork recipes? God knows, I’ve posted a lot of them (here, here, here, here and here). They’re all different from each other, though—I swear. The one I posted earlier this year also had white wine in it but this has a completely different flavour profile. As with that recipe, I used white wine here because I had an open bottle in the fridge. In this case though the bottle had been open for a long while and the wine had begun to approach the border of vinegar. I ended up mellowing the sauce with coconut milk. I’ve listed coconut milk as optional in the recipe though because if you’re using wine from a freshly opened bottle you might not feel the need to add any. Taste it at the end and decide.

And if you decide to make it with red wine (perhaps because that’s what you have open), let me know how it turns out in the comments. It does have one ingredient you will have to go to an Indian store for: dagad phool or kalpasi, a cornerstone of Chettinad cuisine. Well worth seeking out—and it’s available online if you don’t have a well-stocked desi grocery near you [affiliate link].

Ingredients

  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder roast, 3.5-4 lbs
  • 1 red onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tspn crushed ginger
  • 5-7 dried red chillies
  • The following ground together into a fine powder:
    • 1 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds
    • 1 tspn black peppercorn
    • 1 tspn Sichuan peppercorn
    • 1 tspn fennel seeds
    • 1 tspn coriander seeds
    • 1 tblspn’s worth of torn-up dagad phool
    • 1 Kashmiri chilli [affiliate link]
  • 3/4 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 4 heaped tblspns crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Hot water, fresh off the boil, as needed
  • 1 tblspn jaggery/dark brown sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (optional)
  • Salt
  • 4 tblspns neutral oil such as avocado or grapeseed oil
  • 2 tspns chopped dhania/cilantro for garnish

Preparation

  1. Sprinkle salt all over the pork shoulder ahead of time and refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove from the fridge an hour before cooking to allow it come to room temperature.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat for 5 minutes or so and then brown the pork, at least 5 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate.
  3. In a Dutch oven (enameled cast iron is best), heat the oil over medium heat.
  4. When the oil shimmers add the curry leaves, dried chillies, onions and ginger and saute, stirring often, till the onions have softened and begun to brown.
  5. Add the ground spices and haldi, mix in and saute for another minute or so.
  6. Add the tomato, mix in and saute till an aromatic sludge forms.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and place the browned pork roast on top of the sludge and pour the wine around it.
  8. Simmer for a few minutes and then add enough hot water to come about 2/3 of the way up the pork.
  9. Mix in, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the pork is tender and falling off the bone.
  10. Remove the pork carefully to a cutting board and when it has cooled a bit, pull it apart with a knife and fork and arrange in your serving platter.
  11. Taste the sauce. If you like where it’s at leave it be and proceed to the last step.
  12. Otherwise, if the sauce is too acidic for your taste at this point, add the coconut milk and the jaggery/brown sugar, mix in and simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
  13. Pour the sauce over the pork, garnish with the cilantro and serve with steamed rice or dinner rolls.

Notes

  1. No Reel yet. In my continuing post-Thanksgiving turkey-related stupor, I did not have the energy to put one together from the videos I took when first making this in July. But I’ll probably put it up in a day or two.
  2. I say to use the coconut milk if the sauce is too acidic for your liking without it but you may well like it with the coconut milk even if the sauce is not too acidic.
  3. Be careful not to scorch the pork shoulder when browning it. As you’ll see on the Reel once I put it up, I did this on one side in July and this led to a bitter note in the sauce—but the coconut milk took care of that as well.
  4. I know the cooking time is vague. It will depend on the size of your pork shoulder and how low you go with the heat. Don’t worry about it too much—make it on a day when you have a lot of time, and just uncover a few times as it’s cooking and check until it feels right. And if you need to you can add more hot water (1/2 cup or so at a time if the sauce seems to have reduced too much when you check).
  5. When pulling the pork apart I don’t shred it but you could certainly do that if that’s your fancy—especially if you think you might want to make paratha/tortilla rolls or tacos with it.
  6. You could up the tomato a bit if you like.
  7. And if you want it hotter, you could add a few slit green chillies before covering the pan.

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