Pork shoulder is a classic for braising. The meat turns nearly spoonable but still slices nicely, and leftovers are great for sandwiches. In this recipe the pork is combined with dried cherries and sweet potatoes, balancing their sweetness with the slightly bitter taste of Guinness stout and molasses. Odd combination? I thought so too, but OMG, it was fantastic!
It hailed from renowned Chef Daniel Boulud’s cookbook “Braise, A Journey Through International Cuisine” where all of his recipes are influenced with a global perspective. We know that braising transforms inexpensive, tough cuts of meat into succulent soft morsels. And as Daniel writes “In fact, the cheaper, more sinewy, and more chewy the meat is to begin with, the more delectable it’s texture and the thicker the sauce after cooking.”
The original recipe, which is depicted below, calls for a 5-1/2 pound shoulder roast. We happened to have a 3-1/2 pound pork roast on hand, so that’s what we used and adjusted the other ingredients to follow suit. Then we completed the meal with roasted cauliflower and carrots.
Don’t forget to make the Guinness stout and cherry sauce ahead of time. It needs to sit for at least an hour or be refrigerated overnight for the flavors to meld.
Pork Shoulder with Guinness, Dried Cherries and Sweet Potato
- 5 cups Guinness stout
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (51/2-lb.) pork shoulder roast
- Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large red onions, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 tsp. crushed black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 5 whole allspice, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 3 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
- 2 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and roughly chopped
- Bring the stout, cherries, and vinegar to a simmer in a saucepan. Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight.
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Warm the oil in a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Season the pork shoulder with salt and ground black pepper and sear on all sides until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pork shoulder to a platter. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pot.
- Add the onion and the crushed black pepper to the pot and sauté for 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Add the pork shoulder, the marinated cherries and liquid, allspice, bay leaves, molasses, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups water. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and braise for 1 hour, turning the pork once during cooking. Add the sweet potatoes and continue to braise for 2 more hours, turning two more times. If the sauce is too thin or is not flavored intensely enough, ladle most of it off into another pot and simmer it until it thickens and intensifies. Then add it back to the first pot.
- Slice the pork and serve with the sauce on top.
Recipe Courtesy of “Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine,” ECCO/Harper Collins – 2006