|Coca-Cola Braised Pork Shoulder with Sauce and Creamy Chive Polenta|
While cleaning out the refrigerator the other day, I came across a few cans of this:
As I am not a soda drinker, and as this stuff is rarely in our house, I thought best to put it to some culinary use rather than pour it down the drain. Also finding a few pieces of bacon in the fridge, I began thinking about the sweet yet "caramel-y" flavors that come from Coke and how they probably would balance really well with pork, evoking memories of the brown-sugar "candied" bacon I had made a while back. I immediately remembered a friend of mine telling me about her crock pot pork shoulder she makes using nothing more than a can of coke for the liquid. I found some chicken broth, bought some pork shoulder, and crossed my fingers that this would be a hit of a recipe.
AND I ended up with one of the best pork shoulder recipes I have ever tasted let alone created.Who would have thought - inspired by a soda.
3-4 # pork shoulder, boneless, cut into "baseball-sized" chunks
salt and pepper
2-3 slices bacon (or 2-3 tbsp olive oil)
2C chicken broth
3 cans coca-cola
|Boneless pork shoulder|
|Pork shoulder cut into baseball size chunks, seasoned with salt and pepper|
Heat a large cast iron "dutch oven" over medium heat, add bacon to pan and cook bacon, allowing fat to render out completely. When bacon is cooked, remove from pan (you do not need to do bacon step - can just heat olive oil listed above in ingredients).
Begin searing the pork in batches (2-3 pieces at a time) to brown evenly on each side; remove browned pork and set aside while browning off all pork.
Add chicken broth to pan, scraping up all bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add each can of coke slowly as the carbonation will make it bubble up pretty fast.
Add pork back to liquid, making sure that the liquid either completely covers or just barely covers the meat (add more chicken broth or coke if necessary). Bring liquid to a simmer, place lid on top of pot, and place in oven for about 3.5 to 4 hours, until the pork is extremely tender and easily shredded.
At this point, you can serve the pork in its whole shape or shred for any other use.
FOR BEST RESULTS: Turn heat off and allow pork and liquid to cool to room temperature. Store pork in refrigerator overnight in cooking liquid. When ready to serve, remove desired amount of pork from cooking liquid and place in baking vessel with a few spoonfuls of cooking liquid. Preheat oven to 350F and place pork in oven to heat through and create a "light crust", about 12-15 minutes. Serve with sauce.
That night, we devoured dinner. The slow braise left us with one of the finest, most tender, most moist and utterly delicious pieces of pork shoulder I had ever had. The sweetness from the soda permeated the meat, begging us to come back for bite after bite. Served with a drizzling of the sauce over a mound of polenta, we felt we were eating like king and queen for the night. And I owe it all to a lowly can of Coca Cola.