I’m not exaggerating when I say that I planned my entire day around this meal. See, I’d planned on making this for dinner on Sunday night – a dish that requires 3 hours in the oven is just not feasible for the average worknight, but is totally doable on a lazy Sunday afternoon. When Shane texted me mid-day, though, to tell me that he wouldn’t be home in time for dinner, I decided that I would just go into and then leave work a bit early, and we could have a late dinner.
Fast forward to 6:30 or so tonight. I was using a considerably smaller bone-in pork shoulder, so I pulled it after 2 1/4 hours in the oven, only to discover that there was WAY too much cooking liquid. WAY too much. I removed the pork from the pot, cranked up the heat, and reduced the liquid for half an hour before serving.
A brief digression: I like to write in cookbooks. I find it really helpful to note recipe hacks, total failures, or successful pairings for future cooking. I also enjoy opening a cookbook and being reminded of that time in 2003 when Dan and Michele came over for dinner and trivia and we drank too much riesling while eating spaghetti with sweet cherry tomatoes. Or the time in 2004 when I hosted Meat Night and made Lebanese Lemon Chicken and we ate around the low coffee table. A correct interpretation of my notes could’ve saved a lot of disappointment tonight – however, I read “cover halfway” as referring to the lid and the cook time, not the amount of liquid. *shakes fist at the sky*
Even with the half-hour of reducing, the broth was insipid, and the pork – lacking the flavor that should’ve been infused by the broth – had already attained that gamey flavor and consistency that I find so off-putting in leftovers. While Shane adjusted the seasoning on his dish and happily finished it, I ate a few bites and then pushed my plate away. We left the pot on the burner for another 2 1/2 hours, by which time it started to resemble the photo from the cookbook. We’ll see if it’s any better in leftovers for dinner tomorrow.
- The recipe specifies to “pour in enough water to just cover the meat”. Instead, add enough water to cover the meat halfway. You’re going to be covering the pot, so this will be an adequate amount of cooking liquid for a good, tender braise.
- The recipe claims to make 4-6 portions, but we’ve halved it both times and easily still made 4-6 portions.
- You could probably use double the amount of each of the spices, though I’d suggest going easy on doubling the paprika the first time you make this recipe. And note that it calls for smoked paprika, though I might try a spicier paprika if you have it on hand.