Pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt, is a flavorful, often-underused cut that’s perfectly suited to braising—long, slow cooking. In this recipe, the braising liquid contains ingredients reminiscent of Chinese roasted pork. What you end up with is a tender, juicy dish that needs only some simple steamed rice and stir-fried string beans to round it out.
What to buy: Shaoxing is a Chinese rice wine that can be found in Asian markets and in the Asian section of some high-end grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can substitute dry sake or fino sherry.
Game plan: This dish is even better when it’s made a day or two in advance.
This recipe was featured as part of our Chinese New Year Dishes for Valentine’s Day photo gallery.
- 1Combine water, soy sauce, wine or sherry, brown sugar, white parts of the scallions, ginger, garlic, cilantro stems, zest strips, and star anise in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- 2Add pork and return to a simmer. Simmer gently, turning pork over about every 30 minutes, until meat is very tender, about 4 to 4 1/2 hours.
- 3Cool pork in its cooking liquid, uncovered, about 1 hour, then chill, covered, at least 8 hours or overnight. (You can make this dish up to this point and hold until ready to serve if you like.)
- 1Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Skim fat layer off the top of the braising liquid and discard. Transfer chilled pork to a clean cutting board.
- 2Remove string and cut meat across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange pork slices in overlapping rows in a 13-by-9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
- 3Strain braising liquid through a sieve into a large bowl. Measure 2 cups of the cooking liquid and place in a small saucepan. (Reserve the remaining liquid for another use or discard. If you like, you may freeze it and use it the next time you make this dish.) Bring to a simmer and then pour over pork.
- 4Cover dish tightly with foil and place in the oven until thoroughly heated, about 30 minutes.
- 5Cut reserved green parts of scallions on the bias into thin slices. Carefully pour hot broth from the baking dish into a bowl and stir in scallion greens and grated zest. Serve pork with broth, topped with reserved cilantro leaves.
Beverage pairing: A light, spicy red wine is called for to match the star anise, cilantro, orange, and pork, something a little exotic and bright like a Sangiovese-based wine from Tuscany. A Chianti might be too big, so go next door for a Morellino di Scansano (same grapes) from Moris Farms, 2005.