Pork Braised in White Wine and Garlic
I decided that southwest France is unintentionally not that friendly to vegetarians. Sure there's beans and lentils, but here the carnivores reign supreme. A meat rich diet is part of the now, well-documented French Paradox; eat more meat and fat, drink more wine and smoke, yet live longer than many other peoples of the world. Never once did we stop for a plat du jour where a vegetarian dish was an option, even a humble salade du maison usually came with meat, usually jambon or gesiers . Next to duck, pork us No.2 on the protein pop chart. At Christmas pork legs, on special at €2.49 Euro per kg, are stacked like the Pic-du-Midi in supermarket chiller cabinets, and pyramids of salt pails are positioned nearby as locals buy up large to prepare their own hams. The pork, well marbled - no trim pork here thank goodness - and more often sold on the bone, had a truly mouth watering flavour that was a joy to eat when slow cooked.
- 1.5 kilogram shoulder of pork, preferably on the bone
- ½ cup olive oil, one that has a nice flavour but is not too strong
- ½-3/4 cup dry white wine, avoid heavily oaked wines, slow cooking is not kind to them
- 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns, green are delicious but use white or black
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary spikes
- few sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ cup chicken stock
Use a long thin, sharp knife, cut the meat from the bone. Cut the meat into thick slices and then into fillet steak-size pieces. Place the bones in the bottom of a dish or casserole and sit the pork pieces on top. Do not discard the bones, they will enhance the flavour of the dish.
Mix together the olive oil, white wine, pepper, rosemary, thyme and garlic and add a pinch salt. Pour over the pork and turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 140-150 degrees Celsius.
Lift the pork from the marinade and brown evenly in a hot frying pan. Brown the pork bones as well. Place the bones in the base of a casserole and sit the browned pork pieces on top. Pour over the reserved marinade and add the chicken stock. Cover.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 2-2 ½ hours, this way the meat will braise slowly, cooking in its own juices. Cooking time will depend on temperature, but it should be well cooked. Before serving the pork with potatoes - cooked any way you like - along with greens of your liking, make sure you leave the pork to rest for around 10-15 minutes. This is essential when serving any meat dish, as it allows time for the meat to relax, absorbing juices back into the meat fibres.
Fennel cooked along side the pork, makes a tasty variation. Brown 2 quartered fennel bulbs in a dash of butter in a hot pan and add to the pork in the last hour of cooking. If you feel the need to garnish, which I rarely did, a few leaves of fresh thyme is all that's required, avoid rosemary as the spikes are unpleasant to eat.
Preparation time 20 minutes
Marinating time overnight
Cooking time 2 ½ hours