Tag Archives: Butcher

Slow Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder (Carnitas?)

10 Feb

It was a rough day overall, but a pork shoulder braised in milk and taken in the direction of carnitas turned out very well:

pork, shredded

It started with five pounds of bone-in pork shoulder from Olivier’s butchery (at their recommendation, a cut with plenty of fat and even the skin left on one side), coated in salt and pepper, then browned in a little oil at medium-high heat on each side in a dutch oven on the stovetop.

Whole milk was added to cover it about 2/3 up the sides (most of a half-gallon container since I had some excess space around it), along with a head of sliced garlic, a bay leaf, dried sage, and thyme:

pork shoulder

After bringing the milk and spices to a light simmer at medium heat, it went into a “300F” oven, covered, coming out every half hour to get flipped over and fill the room with a tantalizing smell.

I expected anywhere from 2 to 4 hours cooking time based on the internet. After two and a half hours you could peel the meat away from the bones with a little effort from a fork, but the body of the meat was still intact. I sliced off a small piece and was disappointed– it was fully cooked, but fairly dry and not especially flavorful. Was it under-cooked? Already over-cooked? I figured if it was over-cooked I’d already missed the boat, so I put it back in for another half hour. What a change! At three hours you could easily slide a fork half an inch into the bulk of the meat, though it still held together. I gave it another 30ish minutes, tasted a piece, and it was succulent and delicious.

pork shoulder

I believe the expression is “falling off the bone”:

pork bone

I was able to pull this apart into pieces (see the first photo) by hand, only using a knife to trim off a few pieces of fat without burning myself.

Following an online suggestion I also made a sauce by straining the liquid (which had separated into curds and whey) and pressing and then discarding everything solid. Twenty minutes on the stovetop over medium heat reduced the liquid to about half its volume, and a little time with the immersion blender emulsified it into a sweet, surprisingly-not-too-fatty sauce.

So good, even if it was about 11pm at this point.

I know what I’ll be eating the next few mornings on the fire escape…

[ edit ] Monday morning, fried into carnitas:


Butchers and Beers

14 Feb

If you don’t want to see pictures of hog butchering, stop reading now.

Yesterday I went to a combination beer release party (Almanac Beer’s Winter Wit, with kara kara oranges, blood oranges, and ginger from local farms– they pointed out that while Wit is typically a summer beer, winter is citrus season in our neck of the woods… I liked it quite a bit, as well as the High Water Brewing No Boundaries IPA), pork dinner (shoulder with some sort of spicy gravy was my favorite, followed by the fatty pork-and-beer sausage and chicharrones), and hog butchering demonstration by Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats.

While I’ve always liked looking at the “cuts of meat diagrams” in an old Joy Of Cooking, and have been part of various whole animal roasts, this was the first time I’d watched up close as someone broke down an entire animal and pointed out the name of each cut as it was split apart. It really put the shape of the various lines of fat in bacon in context.