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Day Twenty Four: Stuffed Pork Shoulder with Greens, Green Garlic and Lemons

27 Mar

Spring hasn’t really hit us, despite the unusually unbearable time change two weeks ago. We’ve had the biggest winter season, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The past week has brought us storm after storm, blizzard after blizzard. I can only hope that the summer will be extra warm and sunny to make up for all this misery.

The only bright spot this week (in addition to having both of my brother-in-laws here with us this week) was the new CSA box. Beautiful deep purple colored red cabbage, tender braising green mix, green garlic, carrots, mandarins, fennel, chard, parsnips and fingerling potatoes. It was so inspiring, and I just wanted to use it all up in one meal! But alas, I can’t blow through it too fast – I want to enjoy the good stuff over time. However, this week ¬†I needed just one meal that would remind me Spring is just around the corner, using up a lot of these fresh veggies.

There isn’t a better time for me to go all out with dinner than when we have John and Lynn over for our bi-weekly dinner. We thought we’d be watching the finale of Top Chef, but it appears the producers at Bravo want to keep this season going forever. So, while there was no finale (however, there were 2 perfectly good episodes to view), we would still have a delightful meal that was worthy of a finale.

Greens and pork shoulder go so naturally together, but I needed to try something that was different and an inventive way to incorporate some of the box’s ingredients. In doing so, I came across a posting from the oh so fabulous Fatted Calf Charcuterie in SF. There was no recipe, just the title “Berkshire Pork Shoulder Roasts Stuffed with Lemon, Green Garlic, Spring Onions and Greens”. It was one of their dishes available to purchase at the store, and it sounded sooooo good. And as simple as that, I was done searching. It seemed so perfect, given that I had green garlic and greens this week. There was no recipe, that was fine – I was determined to make this amazing sounding dish.

The idea of a stuffed shoulder with greens worked so well. The tender greens were extra good with pork juice and hint of lemon. Overall, the lemon gives the dish a great brightness without overpowering the subtle flavors of the green garlic or the pork, and infuses the pan juices with just the right amount of tart, lemony goodness. The pork was crispy on the outside, and amazingly juicy on the inside. It came together perfectly, just as I had envisioned it to taste.

To round this out, I served it with a relish of black eyed peas and sweet onions (recipe also included here). It was a great¬†accompaniment – didn’t compete, but rather complemented nicely. I also served some pan-braised young carrots (another CSA fixing), and for the salad, shaved fennel (from the CSA box, of course) with blood oranges, greens and a light lemon vinaigrette. And last, for dessert, a parfait of sorts with lemon curd, mascarpone cream and homemade amaretti cookies.

Really, the meal just screamed…..and tasted……and smelled like Spring. I was happy, for the time being. As we ate, the clouds parted and there were blue skies for the first time in days. I like to think this meal may have actually kicked off the Spring season.

Stuffed Pork Shoulder with Greens, Green Garlic and Lemons

(serves about 6 people)

  • 3 to 4 lb pork shoulder, boneless, and butterflied
  • 1 lb greens (I used a braising mix, but kale, chard, collards or other greens will work)
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 stalks green garlic (depending on preference), thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups white wine

Season the pork with salt and pepper on all sides. Set aside and bring to room temperature.

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the greens and simmer until tender. Drain and let cool in the refrigerator. When cooled, squeeze out excess water and place in bowl; add the green garlic slices.

Layer the lemon slices across one side of the pork shoulder. Add the greens and garlic mixture on top of the lemons. Using kitchen string, tie up the shoulder in a few locations, making sure you keep it as tight as possible. Place in a roasting pan.

Roast the pork for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the size, roughly 1 hour per pound or so. Halfway through cooking, add the wine to the pan and baste the pork. Continue basting every 30 minutes or so. When done, remove the pork and let rest for about 30 minutes. To serve, remove strings and slice, drizzling pan juices over pork slices on the plate.

Black Eyed Pea and Sweet Onion Relish

(adapted from Food and Wine, with changes to the herbs and vinegar)

  • 1 cup dried black eyed peas
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 whole large Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 stalk green garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tbsp cider vinegar (depending on taste)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Soak the black eyed peas in hot water for about one hour. Drain and transfer to a saucepan. Add the cubed sweet potato and cover with water (should be 1″ above surface of peas and potatoes). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until peas and potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside.

Add olive oil to a large pan and heat over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown (the original recipe says to cook until translucent, but I wanted some “char” on mine). Add the green garlic and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and add the sweet potato-pea mixture; stir to combine. Add the herbs and the vinegar; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside until ready to serve – this is served at room temperature.

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