Braising is, in my opinion, the most rewarding of all cooking techniques. It provides a large quantity of tasty, tender meat for relatively little effort, which can be used to serve a large group or divided and frozen to provide multiple meals over several months.
Here, I outline a wonderful summer braise of pork shoulder, which can be used for any manner of Mexican dinners (tacos, tostadas, burritos) and then used well into the cooler months for enchiladas, tamales, and the like.
Pork shoulder is one of the least expensive cuts of meat, and it happens to braise incredibly well. There’s no need to wait for chilly weather to use this long, slow cooking technique.
Pork shoulders are sold whole or sometimes as smaller roasts, boneless or bone-in. For this recipe, I used three approximately 2.5 # bone-in cuts of shoulder, which essentially look like gigantic 3” thick steaks. If your only choice is a whole piece of shoulder, no problem, just cut it down into 2 or 3 manageable pieces before starting the recipe.
Pineapple-Braised Pork Shoulder:
5 # pork shoulder, not including the bones
3 sweet onions, cut into 1/2 ” rings
1 whole pineapple, cored and cut into large chunks or slices
2 C. unsweetened pineapple juice
4 C. chicken broth
6 sprigs fresh oregano
S & P
Preheat your grill to high. Rub the pork with coconut oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and set aside. Gently toss the onion slices with oil and salt on a baking sheet or in a large bowl, trying to keep them from falling apart into rings as much as possible.
When the grill is pipin’ hot, grill the pork pieces on all sides for 5-7 minutes per side, or until very golden brown. If you have oddly shaped hunks of pork, you will have to turn them more than one time to grill all of their surfaces. Once the pork is about half way browned, place your onions and pineapple (which needs no oil or seasoning) around the pork, browning them well also. Set everything aside to cool slightly and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
When cool enough to handle, chop your pineapple and onions roughly into small chunks and place in a bowl. Alternatively, you can pulse them in batches in the food processor.
Using one large dutch oven or two medium sized, oven proof pots with tight fitting lids, heat your pineapple juice, broth and oregano over medium high heat. If using two pots, just divide the ingredients between them. Once the liquid is simmering, place the pork into the pot and cover with the onion and pineapple mixture. Cover tightly and place into the oven.
Braise the pork for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, carefully turning the meat over once about half way through cooking. The pork is done when the meat falls apart easily.
Remove the pork for the oven and let cool for 1 hour. Remove any pieces of bone if necessary and break the pork up into chunks with tongs or two forks.
I recommend pork tacos with fresh pineapple salsa (pineapple, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime), crumbled cotija cheese and hot sauce. This is also great with a lime-based cabbage slaw.
For storing leftover pork: Let cool completely and portion into freezer bags. For best results, use within three months.