Wednesday, September 11, 2019

RECIPE: Pork Coddled in Olive Oil

This recipe is from Paula Wolfert's WONDERFUL, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, one of my favorite cookbooks.  There are hundreds of recipes in this book that are as good as this one.  Unfortunately, Ms. Wolfert suffers from dementia, so please buy the book and support her!

When I need an impressive recipe that can be made ahead this is the one I use because it is so SO delicious!   I've made a few changes to the original that work better with the pastured pork we get from our farm.  If I'm able to get two pork shoulders, I double the recipe.

Original Recipe : Pork Coddled in Olive Oil

Pork Coddled in Olive Oil 
with Tuscan Beans and Arugula
Serves 4 

2 1/4 pounds pork shoulder or butt
1 T. coarse salt (I use 2 t. himalayan pink salt)
1 T. crushed black peppercorns
2 imported bay leaves, crushed to a powder, or 1/4 t. powdered bay leaves
1/2 t. bruised fennel seeds
2 sprigs thyme, or 1/4 t. dry
2 c. plus EVOO
1 small head garlic, halved
For Serving:
1 small red onion, sliced paper thin
2.5 t. red wine vinegar
Tuscan Beans (recipe follows) or one 29oz can cannellini beans
2 large bunches arugula

Trim away all fat, sinew, and membrane from the pork.  Cut the meat into 1-inch chunks.  In a large  bowl, toss the meat with the salt, peppercorns bay leaves, fennel and thyme.  Massage the seasonings into the pork, seal or cover tightly, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.  (If I'm pressed for time, I will pack the pork into the pot I'll be cooking it in, and leave it at room temperature for an hour instead of refrigerating it overnight.)

Without draining the meat,squeeze the pieces into a medium ceramic or enameled cast-iron casserole in a single layer.  Pour on 2 cups of olive oil, making sure it gets under the pork.  Add the halved head of garlic (I separate the cloves and bury them among the meat).  Cover with a sheet of crumpled parchment paper and a lid and place in a cold oven.

Turn the oven to 275F (yes, 275F, this cooks on very low heat) and cook for 3 hours.  Check that the oil bubbles only a little, the meat should not brown.  To test if it's ready, scoop out one piece and tap it lightly; it should break into smaller chunks and be a soft pink color.  Remove from the oven and let stand until completely cool.

Raw on the left.................cooked on the right

Drain the pork into a colander set over a bowl.  Discard the garlic (I save it and use to flavor mayonnaise or salad dressing) and thyme.  Allow the juices to settle, then pour off the oil.  Add 3 T. of the flavored oil to the juices and store the juices separately.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days, making sure the pork is completely covered in oil, adding additional fresh if necessary.

Reheat the pork slowly, making sure it never boils!  I don't even let it come to a simmer.

At the same time, soak the red onion in the vinegar for 30 minutes.  In a large bowl, mix the beans with the reserved juices, the vinegar, and the red onions.

To serve, mound the arugula on a plate, spoon the beans on top, then scatter the pork over all.  Save any leftover oil - it's wonderful to dip bread into or as a base for salad dressing.

NOTE: Ms. Wolfert recommends mounding the beans on the platter, scattering the pork on top, and then sprinkling with the onions and arugula.  

Tuscan Beans

2 c. dried cannellini beans
2 garlic cloves peeled
1 dried hot red pepper
2 bay leaves
Himalayan pink salt
Freshly ground pepper

Soak the beans in cold water to cover by at least 2" for at least 12 hours or overnight.  Drain the beans.

Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 3 quarts of fresh cold water. Slowly bring to a boil, skimming once or twice.  Add the garlic, hot pepper, and bay leaves, and cook over lowest heat until tender, about 3 hours.

Drain the beans and discard the hot pepper and bay leaves.  Cool to room temperature and season with salt and pepper.  If beans are made ahead and refrigerated, return to room temperature before serving.

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