Oct 18, 2010

Caitlin's Dish of the Week: Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder over Creamy Polenta

This is one of my husband’s favorite meals and one I really wanted to share with all of you. Slow roasting is the easiest way to get meat tender, juicy and flavorful – it’s the least amount of work that yields the highest results. It does depend on the braising liquid you’re using, and this is one that’s both simple and flavorful (wait for a great holiday braising recipe where I use cloves, allspice and juniper berries). I serve it over creamy polenta, which is a nice compliment to the braising liquid and meat. There are a couple ways to cook the meat: you can slow cook it in a crock pot set on low (which works well if you’re not at home), or you can cook it in the oven. Both methods work well and produce great results. I hope you’ll try it and enjoy!

A note about polenta: I absolutely love it and think it’s a versatile side dish. I used instant for this meal, which true polenta purists might frown upon but I think it’s easy and delicious when done right. There are so many things to do with polenta – you can serve it creamy as I do here; you can put it in a baking dish (after it’s cooked), refrigerate until firm, cut into pieces and fry, then serve it with a nice sauce.
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 glass of full bodied red wine (suggest Bordeaux or Pinot Noir)
4 cups of chicken broth
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 sprigs of thyme
handful of basil
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Pork Shoulder

1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup instant polenta
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
My little helper
If cooking in an oven, preheat it to 300F. If using a crock pot, set it to low.

Salt the pork generously on all sides and add pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and add the pork. Brown on all sides until crispy. Take out of pan and put in either a dutch oven or crock pot, whichever you’re using, and set aside.

In the same pan heat a little more olive oil and scrape up the bits from the meat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Sauté for about 10 minutes until soft then add the red wine and stir, letting the vegetables absorb the wine. Add tomatoes, thyme, basil, bay leaves and S&P to taste then pour in the chicken stock. Let simmer for about 5 minutes then pour over the pork. Make sure the liquid nearly covers the meat by about ¾. You can add more chicken broth if needed, but make sure to add more wine and seasoning.

If cooking in the oven, cover the pan and place inside the preheated oven for about 4-5 hours. You’ll want to check the meat periodically, basting any part that isn’t covered by the liquid. When it’s done, the meat should be falling apart and tender.

If using a crock pot, place inside and cover for 6-8 hours, until the meat is falling apart and tender. Also try to give braising liquid and veggies a good stir once or twice.

For the polenta:
Heat the milk and chicken broth on the stove and bring to a low boil. Turn the heat down to low and slowly add the polenta and cheese stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon. It will cook quickly so keeping stirring until thick and bubbly. When done (about 5 minutes or so), turn off the heat and keep in the pan.

To serve, put the polenta in a bowl with loosely shredded on pork on top. Add some of the braising liquid around the polenta and on top of the meat, serve and enjoy!

For any leftover pork
There are few things you can do with the leftover pork. One of my favorites is to have open-faced sandwiches. I like to reheat the pork by putting it back into the braising liquid and into a covered pan – cook for about 20 minutes until the pork is reheated. Here are the two open-faced sandwiches that we love.

Caramelized Apples and Onions with Jarlsberg Cheese: Place a slice of Jarlsberg cheese over a piece of crusty bread and put in the oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. Slice apples and onions, and sauté in a tbsp of melted butter and tbsp of sugar. Cook over medium heat until soft and sweet. Place the caramelized apples and onions over the cheesy bread, top with shredded pork and enjoy!

Sauerkraut and Havarti
Place a slice of Havarti cheese on a piece of crusty bread and put into the oven until cheese melts and bread is toasted. Put sauerkraut in a pan and simmer until warm. Place the sauerkraut on the cheesy bread, top with shredded pork and enjoy!

I was listening to a mix of the 80’s (the good 80’s) when I made this. I sang along to The Smiths, Siouxsie, New Order (plus a couple Joy Division songs), The Cure and then threw in some one-hit wonders for good measure and all around singing fun.

Drink of Choice
There are a couple drinks that compliment this dish nicely and we’ve tried both. The first is a nice full-bodied wine that you’re using for the braising liquid – I suggested a French Bordeaux or Pinot Noir. The second choice would be brown ale such as Rogue’s Hazlenut Brown. Both are great, your choice will depend on what makes you happy.


  1. No joke this is amazing.

  2. i made this a couple weeks ago. i realized midway that the setup's very similar to a chuck roast i do in the slowcooker, although dave said he preferred the texture of the pork. it tasted great, and was even better a couple days later as leftovers! it was also our first time eating polenta - good stuff. :)