Day Ten: Coconut Braised Pork Shoulder

22 Nov

We’ve made it to double digits. This is very exciting – progress is being made. Whether or not this is a good thing, I feel like I’ve made way more pork shoulder dishes than 10. But, its all good – I’m still enjoying it and have lots more fun stuff to make. My nerdy spreadsheet of pork ideas is growing longer each day.

I seem to be syncing up my braised dishes quite perfectly with our early winter storms. Not knowing that we’d be getting nearly 3 or more feet of snow and temperatures in the teens this weekend, I had planned to make some tropical inspired dishes. Perhaps subconsciously I knew we could be snowed in and wanted to take a culinary vacation or something, pretending I was on some warm tropical island with a rum cocktail in hand.  But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no, probably just a coincidence.

Anyhow, this blustery, freezing,  snowy Saturday I made some Coconut Braised Pork Shoulder. It transpired after I went “shopping” in my parent’s pantry during my visit down this past weekend. Not sure why, but I love to raid their cabinets. Maybe it is because they buy everything in bulk, which I think is totally unnecessary. Do you really need 15 cans of beans? 8 bags of pasta? I doubt it. Understand that periodically I clean out their pantry and find things as old as time in there, which is always a fun event for me and my Dad (Mom doesn’t find it quite as fun).  As such, I guess it is just my natural reaction, knowing that these various canned/packaged products could be sitting around for a while.  So I decided to help myself to some coconut milk and black beans, among other things. Given that my Mom had just told me that my Dad “isn’t supposed to have coconut”, I figured they wouldn’t miss it. Plus, they had a few other cans of black beans.

I can’t take full credit for this recipe myself. I’m sure just like many others out there, with my stolen goods in hand, I was inspired by Mark Bittman’s February article in the New York Times for Coconut Braised Beef. I find that many (but not all) beef recipes that involve slow cooking translate to pork quite well. After all, pork technically is really red meat, despite the National Pork Board’s “other white meat” slogan (and no offense to the Pork Board). I used the base recipe – chilies, coconut milk and lime – and added some more ingredients to it.  To complete the meal, I served it over a mixture of black beans and rice. The result is a Southeast Asian-meets-Caribbean inspired dish, perfect for forgetting about how cold it is outside.  And it goes rather nicely with a rum and tonic.

My only complaint here was that it wasn’t quite hot enough – I definitely should have added more serranos. Maybe even added them as a garnish at the end. Oh, and it was supposed to have cilantro on top as garnish, which would have been fantastic, but Christian accidentally bought me Italian Parsley instead. Oh well. But don’t get me wrong, it was good as is (Christian gave it 3 and 3/4 stars out of 4).

Just a note – I cooked the entire shoulder for this recipe, with the intent of using some leftovers for another dinner this week.

Coconut Braised Pork with Mango

  • 2 1/2 lb pork shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 can coconut milk, plus 1/2 cup water
  • 2 to 3 serrano chilies (if you like to really notice the heat, I’d add 3 or more)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • cilantro, for garnish

Add the garlic, lemongrass, lime juice, lime zest and serrano chilies to a food processor, and combine until minced and the mixture resembles a paste.

In a large pan, heat some oil and brown the pork chunks in batches. Add to the crock pot as they are finished. Add the coconut milk, water and herb paste to the pan and cook, stirring and scraping up the pork bits. Pour sauce into the crock pot. Set to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours.

When pork is done, remove the meat from the sauce and keep warm. Strain the sauce and skim off any fat. Pour sauce into a shallow pan. Puree about 3/4 of the diced mango and reserve the remaining. Add the mango puree to the sauce and cook, over medium high heat, until thickened, stirring occasionally; about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook some white rice and, when done, add 1/2 can black beans and juice of one lime.

To serve, place some of the rice and beans on a plate. Sprinkle the remaining diced mango on top. Add the pork and drizzle the sauce over the dish.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

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