Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Braised Pork with Kale

Too many people just eat to consume calories. Try dining for a change. – John Walters 

Mr. Walters was right. We so often sit down and shovel food into our open maws with hardly a thought as to what’s going in there.

This simmers, covered, for three hours.
I’m as guilty as the next person. But every once in a while it’s nice to treat yourself to something healthy AND extraordinary, as long as it's not too labour intensive.

This recipe does not take a whole lot of work. What it does take is time. Three hours of braising, to be exact. But it’s well worth the wait. Pick a day when you’re trapped inside either by pouring rain (like today is going to be) or snow.

This recipe seems quite simple when you look at it, and it is. But something magical happens when all that time elapses: the onions and garlic disappear into the sauce and all the flavours infuse into the meat.

This is not “blackened” in the Cajun cooking sense. If anything this is more Mediterranean (Italy or Provence) than anything. So whence cometh the name?

I called this recipe “black” for two reasons: the black pepper and portobello mushrooms. The decent amount of cracked pepper adds a nice background spiciness, while the portobello gills break down and make the liquid in the pot a very, very dark colour. It certainly makes the green kale pop!

The result.
This is a deep, delicious and complex tasting dish. If you want to step it up a notch try adding 1/2 cup of white wine to the pot if you don’t think you have enough liquid just before you thicken it. Just make sure it’s wine you would actually enjoy drinking.

Here’s a sage word of advice. Choose a piece of pork that is well marbled. It will break down as the dish cooks and render the meat unbelievably tender. Pull apart tender.

This recipe is quite filling. Both the portobello and kale helps in this regard, I believe. A little goes a long way. It’s a bit of an anomaly, because usually dishes that taste this rich are loaded with calories. I can state with almost certain conviction that this one is not.

I do have to admit that this is one of the best things I have made in quite a while.

Black Braised Pork with Kale
Prep: 10 min  |  Braise: 3 hours  |  Serves 4, easily
1.5 lb pork roast
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 medium onions, quartered
3-4 portobello caps, diced large
3 lg garlic cloves
3 cups chicken stock
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp water
4 cups chopped kale

Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot with a lid. Sprinkle the roast with a little salt and pepper and sear on all sides.

Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic to the pot. Then add the chicken stock, the 2 tsp of pepper, sage and a little more salt.

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Let cook for 3 hours. Check periodically to ensure there is still liquid in the pot.

At the end of the time, remove the roast to a plate. You should have between 1.5-2 cups of liquid. Mix the flour with the water to make a smooth paste. Add to the pot. Increase the heat to medium and stir until the sauce thickens.

Add the chopped kale, stir in well, cover and let cook for 5 minutes.

To serve, tear the pork apart into bite-sized pieces. Place some sauce on the bottom of the plate. Pile some pork in the centre and serve.

Be prepared to serve seconds, because you WILL be asked.


Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly and as best I can. Feel free to share this post. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to the original on this site.

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