Friday, November 28, 2014

Cooking: Daegu Braised Pork

     If you're looking for something other than turkey for the holidays you might want to try something that's readily (and cheaply!) available in Korea at every corner butcher shop, braised pork shoulder! If you've never braised something before, it's super easy and the recipe is extremely forgiving, so feel free to make substitutions or leave things out if you don't have them (except the meat). I love this whole technique because you can use it to make about a hundred other dishes (Kimchi Jiggae perhaps?). Just change up your meat and/or braising liquids. All you need is a single large pot and a single burner. For this dish I used things that remind me of Korea and Daegu, namely beer, soju, and apples. Here's what I used.
  • A pork shoulder (you can just use one, but I was cooking for eight people so I used one and a half)- "Moksal" in Korean
  • One bottle of soju
  • Good apple juice (not too sweet, go for 100% not from concentrate if possible)
  • Beer (I used Hite, but use whatever)
  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Garlic

     If you have a mind to you can start by searing your meat in the pot you plan on using (go big) If you don't want to you don't have to because you're going to be cooking this thing for four hours and it's going to loaded with plenty of flavor at that point.

     I go ahead and give an onion a rough chop and wash and prepare about a handful of garlic cloves.

     When you think your pork has a sufficient sear (mine doesn't really) go ahead and just pour the whole bottle of soju into the pot. Yes, the whole bottle, don't be scared. you can see how little a bottle of soju is in my stock pot. Go ahead and dump in your onions and garlic as well.

     After that you want to add an equal amount of apple juice and beer. I just used a coffee cup, measuring really isn't important, you just keep adding an equal amount until about 1/2 to 3/4 of the pork is covered.

     Go ahead and add whatever seasonings you want. I used a couple of bay leaves and some pepper. You don't really want to add salt at this point because the liquid is going to cook way down and you might end up over salting at this point. Next bring the whole mess to a very low simmer for about 3-4 hours depending on the size of the shoulder. Don't worry it's really hard to overcook this.

     So how do you know when it's done? Here's mine about 4 hours later. The whole house smelled amazing at this point and the meat was so tender that I could push a chopstick right through the center with absolutely no resistance. At this point you could remove the meat, skim off the fat and reduce and salt the remaining braising liquid to make a sauce. If you're like me though you can make this whole thing a day ahead and just reheat it the next day when your guests arrive. Here's how you do that.
Wow, one day later you can see how much fat has collected at the top. 

     Once the fat is removed go ahead and skin and cut up an apple and cut another onion or two into large rings add them to the pot and bring the whole thing to a boil. The next step is to remove the meat and large pieces of apple and onion to a serving dish. Reduce and salt the remaining liquid to your taste and then add some of the liquid (glaze) to the serving tray.

     Cut the meat into serviceable pieces (it will just fall apart) and dig in. Trust me, the meat will be so, so tender, it's impossible not to like.

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