It's getting cold outside. That means I'm in the mood for hearty stews and roasts that let me turn on my oven for hours at a time, heating up my apartment and fattening me up for the long winter. Er, ok, maybe the former is more desirable than the latter. This weekend I responded to clamoring pre-hibernation instincts with a braised pork dish. It makes a ton of food, so is great for leftovers. It's also very juicy, so I recommend serving it with some bread or rice to sop up the flavors.
2-3 lb pork shoulder, chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
1 green pepper, chopped
2 ripe mangos, peeled and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups water
I recommend chopping everything up before you start-mis en place, people! There is a lot of chopping required and you don't want to be caught with your knife down in the middle of it…so to speak.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium high heat in a large saute pan until it shimmers. Brown your pork in batches (as many as required-it will depend on how much pork you have vs. the size of your pan). Remove the pork after it's browned and place it in the pot you intend to use to braise in the oven. Speaking of ovens, preheat yours to 350.
If there is a lot of fat in the pan, drain off all but a tbsp. If there is no fat in the pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Now saute your onion and pepper until they start to brown.
Once they do that, add in the spices and saute til fragrant-about a minute.
Now add the tomatoes and the garlic. Cook those suckers down…you need to make room in the pan for the mango.
Speaking of mango-when the tomatoes have softened, add that in. You don't need to cook it long on the stovetop. Just keep stirring it all together to get it coated in spices and allow the flavors to start to meld. Also, add the water to the mixture.
After several minutes, pour the contents of your saute pan over top of the pork in your braising pan. Add the salt and sugar and stir it round.
Now, to braise effectively, it is important that you have a tight fitting lid. In a braise, as your meat and veggies cook, steam rises to the top, hits the lid of your pot, and drops back down onto the meat, keeping it moist. If the steam can escape, the meat might dry out.
Now put it in the oven and leave it alone for at least an hour and a half. Check on it then. If the pork is tender, pull it out and enjoy. If not, leave it for another half hour and check again. It should look like this.