It’s winter in Chicago. Although we’re having a really mild one, I’m growing tired of bundling myself in the same calf-length, sleeping bag-esque Chicagoan’s winter coat every time I leave the house. I think it’s all this bundling and unbundling in preparation for braving the outdoors that makes me crave more meat than usual. And not just a little piece of chicken breast–I’m talking satisfying, fatty, cheap cuts slow cooked in broth and wine or roasted with sturdy root vegetables.
Those of you who have spent any time with me at all know that pork is one of my most favorite things. In any form–steak, chops (rib or loin), belly, jowls, ribs, shoulder or ham–it is fatty, luxurious and satisfying. Pork shoulder is wonderful to cook with because it’s really cheap and stands up to long, slow cook times.
Resources used: This recipe is based on one that came in a little box with my tagine, which I got for Christmas a few years ago. The sleeper hit of this stew for me was the lemon. Cooking thinly sliced lemon creates a gorgeous, softened acidity. The skin gives off some essential oils, perfuming the savory pork with a light hint of citrus.
I like serving this with my oven-baked fries, which I’ll toss with some of the toasted cumin seed, salt and pepper.
Portuguese stewed pork
2 tablespoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped and divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-in. cubes
Olive oil, as needed
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 lemon, cut in paper-thin slices and quartered
Method: Combine the cumin, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, half the cilantro and lemon juice in a bowl. Rub this paste into the pork and marinate for two hours at room temperature (you could also marinate it up to 8 hours in the refrigerator–just be sure to bring it to room temp before cooking).
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over high heat, and sauté until golden brown on all sides. Do this in batches until all the pork is browned so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove the pork, and cover it with foil to keep warm.
Add a bit more olive oil to the pan; add the onion and sauté for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Slide the pork back into the pot and add just enough stock to cover the meat about halfway. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 2 hours, until the pork is falling apart.
Add the lemon slices to the pot during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Check the seasoning, and adjust as needed. Sprinkle the pork with the remaining cilantro, and serve.