Soy-Braised Pork Shoulder
Recipe courtesy of chef Wally Joe, Acre, Memphis, Tenn.
• 1 pound assorted peppers (banana, Anaheim, jalapeño), seeded and diced
• 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
• 2 cups rice vinegar
• Sachet of 1/2 teaspoon each coriander seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns, and 1 bay leaf
• 8 tablespoons butter, divided, at room temperature
• 2 large butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
• Canola oil, for frying
• 5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cleaned and cut into 2-inch chunks
• 1 cup soy sauce
• 1 1/2 cups sweet soy sauce
• 2 cups rice wine or sake
• 3 pods star anise
• 3 cups veal stock
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
• 4 tablespoons honey
1. Place the peppers, shallot, rice vinegar and sachet in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to cool completely, and steep for 4 to 6 hours. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Preheat an oven to 375° F. Rub 1 tablespoon butter over each cut side of the squash, and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Roast until very soft, about 30 to 40 minutes, and remove from oven. Set aside.
3. Lower the oven to 250° F. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat, and pour in just enough oil to cover. Season the pork with salt and pepper, add to the sauté pan, and sear until browned on all sides. Transfer to a Dutch oven or another deep, ovenproof pan, and cover with soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, rice wine, star anise and veal stock. Cover and place in the oven to braise until tender, about 4 hours. Remove from the oven and separate the pork from the liquid. Transfer the pork to a plate, and cover with foil. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat and simmer to reduce the jus by one-third, about 15 to 20 minutes.
4. While the jus is reducing, place the squash back into the 250° F oven to rewarm. When the jus is ready, remove from the heat, add the pork back to the liquid and cover to keep warm.
5. Remove the squash from the oven. Holding each half in a towel-lined hand, scrape the flesh into a food processor. Blend with ginger, honey and remaining butter until smooth. Plate individual servings of squash puree topped with pork and jus, and garnish with a small spoonful of pickled peppers. Serves 6 to 8.
Note: This recipe yields a great deal of pepper relish, but it will keep for several months in the refrigerator and can accompany a variety of other dishes.