Brined and Braised Pork Shoulder with White Beans, Chorizo and Cider
Braised pork shoulder’s flavor is pretty rich and straightforward, so I like serving it with ingredients that add a little dimension. The chorizo is about heat, while the cider adds sweetness and acidity. You can use one of any number of bean varieties, like white runner bean, giant Peruvian lima, great Northern, or cannellini. Super-bonus points for using fresh shelling beans. And if using canned is the difference between making this dish or not, use canned.
Ingredients – Brined and Braised Pork Shoulder:
- 1 (3 – 4 pound) pork shoulder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 stalk fennel, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 small bunch thyme
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup crisp and cheap white wine
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- About 1 quart chicken stock or water, plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 2 fresh bay leaves, or 1 dried
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 2 quarts water
Ingredients – White Beans:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces Spanish dry chorizo, cut into 1/4″ wide slices
- 1 large Spanish onion, diced
- 2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 cup hard cider
- 1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight and drained or 2 (15.5 ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or butter
- 1 brined and braised pork shoulder, in its braising liquid
- 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Prep the Pork:
Trim the excess fat from the pork shoulder. Cut the meat away from the bone. Roll the meat into a bundle and tie with butcher’s twine to secure.
Brine the Pork:
Make the Brine: In a stockpot, combine the salt, sugar, peppercorns, chile flakes, bay leaves, thyme, and onion with the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove teh pot from the heat and let the brine cool completely. Transfer the brine to a large bowl.
Submerge the pork shoulder in the brine and let sit in the fridge overnight. If you can’t fit a large pot in your fridge, do what chef Perry Hendrix’s dad does and clean out a crisper drawer in the fridge and put the brine right in there. True story.
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Remove the pork shoulder from the brine and rub it down with the salt and paprika (No need to wipe it off first.)
Combine the pork shoulder with the vegetables and herbs in a large Dutch oven, large pot with lid, or deep roasting pan. Pick a cooking vessel that is big enough to hold everything, but not so big you need a gallon of stock to reach three-quarters of the way up the shoulder to keep the pork moist as it cooks.
In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, wine, honey and vinegar. Pour the mixture over the pork.
Add enough stock to come up to the “shoulders” of the shoulder. Cover the pork tightly with the lid or seal with two pieces of foil.
Cook for 6 hours, or until the pork is very tender but not totally falling apart. Remove the bay leaves and thyme branches.
The pork can be served straight from the oven, or it can be chilled completely, refrigerated for up to 5 days, and then reheated in a 350° F oven for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and warm in the middle. Either way, it’s key to let the pork cool in its braising juices because it’ll reabsorb them as it cools.
Make the Beans:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chorizo, onion, apples, garlic, paprika, and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not browning. Increase the heat to medium-high. When the onion starts to color, pour in the cider. Cook until the cider reduces almost entirely, about 2 minutes. Add the soaked beans to the pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch, about 1 quart. Cook over medium heat until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes. If using canned beans, just add the liquid from the can and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid reduces a bit and everything is delicious.
Taste and season with more salt, if necessary – usually an additional 1 teaspoon for the dry beans and less for the canned beans if they are already salted.
Put It Together and Serve:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. If reheating the pork shoulder, cook, covered, until bubbly and warm in the middle, about 45 minutes. Add the beans to the pot and continue cooking, uncovered, until the beans and cooking liquid are bubbling and a little reduced, an additional 20 minutes. (If you’re not reheating the pork and making this all in one go, just add the beans during the last 20 minutes of braising.)
In a medium bowl, toss together the apple, parsley, lemon juice, oil, and salt. Top the pork and beans with the salad and serve out of the pot.