Saturday, March 1, 2014

Beer and Onion Pork Shoulder Roast

With St. Patrick's day coming up I'm cooking with Irish beer. You might be surprised at what a delicious sauce beer and onions can make for a pork roast, especially with the addition of Savoy cabbage and carrots.

Julian's Beer and Onion Pork Roast with Savoy Cabbage
This hearty dish is similar in technique and cut of meat to my Pumpkin Braised Pork, which I made back in December and even to the Italian Style Pork Shoulder I made prior to that. But Kevin thought this dish was actually better than both, particularly because of the addition of the Savoy cabbage.

If you are wondering what the difference is between Savoy, Napa and regular green or red cabbage, Savoy cabbage is a milder and sweeter and has no noxious odor when cooking. Savoy cabbage cooks much more quickly than regular green cabbage, so I added it to the roast only about an hour before the roast was ready. If you haven't tried Savoy cabbage, make sure you do. Your family will enjoy it.

Carrots with Savoy cabbage added for the last hour of roasting.
Beer seems to go particularly well when making pork and you can use really any type you prefer. I used an amber ale in this recipe, but you could as easily use a very light or even a dark beer with similarly good results. You can use more or less beer than stated below, but you must do this before it goes into the oven. If you need more liquid as it roasts, add water. As I often say, use whatever ingredients you have on hand. It will make cooking easier and more fun when you don't find you must buy a large list of special items. In fact, you need not follow my recipe at all. Just read through it and do something similar. Most combinations work well and you'll enjoy the cooking experience. The general braising technique is more important than the ingredient list.

Ingredients (serves 6-8 adults)
Ready to begin
4-6 pound pork shoulder roast (bone in or boneless)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 large sweet onion, more finely chopped
3 large carrots, cut into bit-sized pieces
16 ounces beer (or more)
6-8 ounces white mushrooms (optional)
Savoy cabbage, core removed cut into wedges
water as needed

Instructions
Trim any excess fat and cut the pork into large chunks, about 2" by 2". Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or other flameproof roasting pan heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork on all sides. Do not overcrowd the pan as this will prevent browning. Remove to a separate dish and hold until all the pork is browned.

Do not overcrowd the pan during browning.
Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. 

Drain all but two tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan and add the two onions and salt/pepper lightly and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring regularly. Add 2/3 of the carrots and all of the optional mushrooms.  Cook 3-4 minutes more. Browning will occur and there will be some sticking to the pan. This is normal. Add the beer and scrape the bottom of the pan to release browned bits from the surface. Continue cooking 5 minutes more until the beer begins to simmer. Return the browned pork to the pan and stir to combine. Cover and roast for 2 hours. Check hourly and add some water if necessary to ensure the pork remains partially submerged during cooking. 

Cabbage and remaining carrots added during final hour.
Add the Savoy cabbage and the remaining 1/3 of the carrots. Do not stir but rather push these ingredients down into the sauce partially. Cover and continue roasting, about 1 hour more, until the meat is tender but not falling apart.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Makes a nice family-style presentation.

Also makes a delicious gravy for potatoes.

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