Braised Pork Shoulder


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I usually cook the pork shoulder whole, but this time I decided to try something different.  Ferdinand and I were shopping and he spotted pork shoulder for $1.29/lb.  That’s a pretty good price and I am trying to encourage him to eat – anything.  I like to make a marinade paste and stuff it into holes that I poke throughout the meat so the flavor gets in.  I found a recipe online where a paste was still made, but, instead of covering the roast with the marinade and stuffing it into little slits, the recipe called for the meat to be cut up into 1″ pieces instead.  1″ pieces?  Why would I want to do that?

Now, the main thing is, to make everything look appetizing for Ferdinand so he will eat.  He likes his pernil slow roasted, on the bone, in the oven.  I have to admit that it does look impressive when it’s done that way.  So, I asked him what he thought about cutting the shoulder up and cooking it in chunks.  He was not very enthusiastic, but said I could do what I want.  Just make sure it is good.  And that I use enough salt.  I decided to run with it!

I jumped right on the marinade.  That was easy.  Just chop everything and drop it into the food processor.  I cut the shoulder into rather large chunks and massaged the marinade into all the pieces, covered and refrigerated overnight.  There were also some smaller chunks, which I wrapped up for use in the Arroz con Gandules I was planning to make to go with it.  Now who’s the Sweet Genius?  The next day, I decided to use the pressure cooker, so all was right with my world.

Cuban-Style Braised Pork Shoulder in the Pressure Cooker

You don’t have to use a pressure cooker.  If you want to use the oven, just use 1/4 cup of the chicken broth, cover tightly (use aluminum foil), set your oven to 325 degrees F, and wait 4 hours or more.  Same thing in a Dutch oven:  less water, low heat, tight cover, 4 hours.

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Ingredients:

Marinade:

  • 9 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 dried bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel (from 1 orange)
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)

5 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 4-inch chunks

2 onions

1 cup chicken broth or 1 cup vegetable broth

Instructions:

In a food processor, combine marinade ingredients and process to form a paste: rub the paste all over the pork pieces.

If using a pressure cooker: Let marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  If using another cooking method:  Cover, and refrigerate overnight to marinate.

Slice onions 1/2-inch thick and place in the bottom of your pressure cooker or Dutch oven (stove top) or casserole dish (oven): pour in chicken broth or vegetable broth (remember to decrease the amount of liquid for the oven or stove top – you can add more if the pot gets dry).

Carefully place marinated pork over the onions.

Bring the pressure cooker up to pressure, then lower heat to medium low and cook until tender, about 2 hours.  If using the stove top or oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook over medium low heat (stove top) or 325 degrees F (oven) until meat is tender, about 4 hours.  Remember to check, if using stove top or oven, and add more broth if needed.

Once done, the meat can be served as is (in chunks) or shredded, but either way it should be stirred with the onions and broth.

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I almost forgot.  It can also be done in a slow cooker using the same method, i.e. place the onions and 1/4 cup broth in the bottom and top with marinated pork.  For this method the meat does not need overnight marinating.  It will cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5-5 1/2 hours.  I always forget the slow cooker since I dropped mine.  It was an old ceramic one.  I have decided not to replace it.  For now.