If someone had told me two weeks ago that I’d be braising pork on a sunny 75-degree day, I’d tell them they were crazy. I don’t stick to strictly seasonal meals but heating up my kitchen to slow cook something doesn’t make any sense when it’s already hot enough out there.
Nonetheless, I was so captivated by a recent recipe from Gourmandistan that I couldn’t help myself from doing just that. The recipe in question was a blanquette of pork, or braised pork shoulder in a happy broth of stock, cream and lemon. While the pork and the cooking liquid sounded lovely on their own, it was the pretty and colorful spring vegetables that called out to me. Just look at Michelle and Steve’s version of this Pork & Sons recipe and tell me it doesn’t look mouth-wateringly delicious.
And so, eager and excited, I thawed out a little two-pound pork butt that was nestled in my freezer and got to work. While I was clearly easy to convince, here are a few words of encouragement in case you need some enticement to turn on your stove and make this:
1. It doesn’t take too long to cook — the cubes of pork will braise into a melty mouthful in a little more than an hour.
2. The lemon keeps this dish fresh and light, despite the addition of cream.
3. This is an excellent vehicle for all of the gorgeous spring produce in the markets right now. The baby new potatoes were like butter and the carrots were so sweet that they were like little pops of vegetable candy. And the peas…Honestly it was the peas floating in the delicately creamy broth that really won me over. I really, really love sweet peas.
And so, unsurprisingly, I went head-over-heels for this dish. In fact, when I made it, I actually had no intention to actually blog about it. I was feeling too lazy to take my usual “in the process of cooking” photos and so decided to just make dinner and eat — a novel idea, I know.
But it turned out so crazy good that I couldn’t help myself and snapped a few pictures before digging in.
A few notes: I followed the recipe almost exactly but forgot about the zucchini. So instead of cutting it into batons and blanching it, I used a peeler to cut long strips from the squash. I put those in the bowl, wrapped loosely into rolls, and then poured the hot liquid over them. This added a nice textural bite to the dish. I also kept my potatoes peel-on, gently smashing them after they were cooked so they could really get infused with the flavor of the broth.
And much like those in Gourmandistan, I wholly support cooking each vegetable on its own instead of cooking them all together like most stew recipes will instruct you to do. That is a formula for over-cooked mushy veggies or under-cooked, crunchy potatoes. Cook everything separately and then combine before serving. I use this technique all of the time and even though it takes more effort and another pot, the veggies will always be perfectly cooked, a good trade-off I think.
Besides that, all I can say is this dish is magical. The broth, which starts as chicken stock before soaking up the flavor of pork, thyme and bay leaves, becomes downright addictive with the cream and lemon added in. I could have licked the bowl when I was done — that good.
So before the heat of summer is fully upon us, put this on your dinner roster. I promise you, it will be worth it.