November 15, 2019
Pork shoulder is one of the most flavourful cuts you can buy, but is often misunderstood, or used exclusively for pulled pork in the slow cooker (or backyard smoker, if you’re lucky). With its tough connective tissues, pork shoulder benefits from a long, slow cooking time, but there are still an infinite number of ways to prepare it—pork gets on with a wide range of flavours, so it could be braised in the style of a beef pot roast, with tomatoes and veggies, or with Asian flavours or a sweet-tangy barbecue sauce.
If you’re adding other ingredients, it’s best to let the meat cook first—it will need more time than potatoes and carrots, for example. For a hearty one-pot meal, try braising the pork with tomatoes, garlic and herbs, then stirring fresh gnocchi into the saucy meat and returning it to the oven for another 20 minutes to allow the soft dumplings to cook in the braising liquid. The result: an immensely comforting dish that’s perfect for eating on the couch, warming up after a long day outdoors, or packing in a Thermos to take to work or school.
Braised Pork & Gnocchi
2 lb pork shoulder roast
salt and pepper, to taste
canola oil, for cooking
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 28 oz (796 mL) can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz (398 mL) can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
2 sprigs fresh thyme or a few basil leaves, or 2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 lb fresh regular, cheese or gluten-free gnocchi
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Preheat your oven to 300˚F. Pat the pork dry with paper towel, cut it into large (about 2-inch) pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and brown the meat well on all sides. Move it over to one side and add the onion to the pan; cook for a few minutes, until they’ve softened and loosened some of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and thyme, cover and braise for 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Add the gnocchi along with 1/2 cup water (unless it’s already very saucy), stir to coat well with sauce and return it to the oven for half an hour, until the gnocchi is tender. Pull the meat apart with forks and serve topped with Parmesan cheese.
- Julie Van Rosendaal
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