First, you’ll want to do a simple braise of the pork. Braise simply means to simmer in a bit of liquid with a tight cover to keep in the steam. It’s a vital lesson to learn to utilize inexpensive cuts of meat. You’ll need about 3-ounces of pork per serving. Leave the vegetables, but remove the rest of the pork and refrigerate for other meals. The key to a good braise is to brown the meat thoroughly. You’ll likely collect a layer of brown gunk at the bottom of the pan. That’s good. It will come up when you sauté the vegetables and add the water or stock. Use a heavy bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid. Since this cooks for a long a time, don’t use bouillon cubes in place of stock; the result will be too salty. Use plain water instead. If there’s a bone, save it to use for split pea soup or black beans. Serves four, just under $1 per serving.
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3- to 4-pound pork shoulder or picnic ham, cut into one-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stems of celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
A big pinch of mixed Italian herbs
A cup or so of chicken stock or water
for this recipe
½ head cabbage, shredded or sliced thin (about eight ounces)
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
4 oz. whole wheat wide pasta, cooked
Preheat the oven to 350F. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the cubes of pork in batches and brown well. Avoid crowding. Set aside. Add additional oil if needed and add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the browned pork, herbs and stock or water. Cover and simmer in the oven for about two hours.
Using tongs, carefully remove the pork from the broth, leaving the vegetables and broth in pot. Return about a 1 ½ cup of the diced pork back into the pan. Let the rest cool briefly, and refrigerate for other uses. Add the shredded cabbage, the tomatoes and potatoes and return to the oven for about 25 minutes. Add the cooked noodles, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Other uses for leftover pork
– Soft pork tacos: Add 1 ½ ounces of pork to taco, add shredded cabbage, black beans, cheese
– Breakfast burrito: scramble one egg, add one to two ounces of shredded pork, black beans, cheese and roll up in burrito
– Add to bean soups or stews
– Toss with pasta, tomatoes and other vegetables