Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Yee haw...it's my 300th post to the this Blog!!!

Thanks for playing along.

In celebration of the 300th post, I want to share with you an extra special, mind blowing dish with 3 different functions.

Oh, and Happy 4th of July!

The other day we watched an episode of Lidia's Family Table starring Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. She just about made us cry with the dish she made, so I jumped up and pulled out the matching book and flagged the recipe. It takes some time and a bit of a commitment on the ingredients but you will be sooo happy!!!

Salsa Genovese—Braised Pork Shoulder with Onions

Pork shoulder is delicious braised as well as roasted. Salsa Genovese provides a wonderful sauce as well as a large amount of meat—indeed, this traditional Neapolitan Sunday dish gives you two options, for two different meals.

In a custom of “Sunday Sauces,” the freshly cooked pork and its braising sauce are served separately the first time: the sauce with the meat extracted is tossed with pasta for a first course, and the meat is sliced and served as a main course. (In Italian and Italian-American homes, these might be different courses or on the table at the same time.)

Whatever sauce and meat are left from the first feast are then combined into a meaty sauce to dress pasta another day. A 5-pound pork shoulder cooked, in my recipe, with 5 pounds of chopped onions will give you plenty of meat and sauce to enjoy all these ways. Braise a bigger shoulder for even more leftovers—just be sure to buy plenty of onions: a 7-pound pork roast gets 7 pounds of onions!

Serves 6 or more

For the Pestata

4 oz bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup whole peeled garlic cloves

1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped

5 lbs onions, peeled and chopped
5 lb pork shoulder (butt) roast, bone-in

1 TB kosher salt
½ cup olive oil
¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
2 TB tomato paste
4 cups (or more) broth (Turkey, Chicken or Vegetable)

All the ingredients are ready. And make sure you have everything and it's good enough to use. I thought I had tomato paste and didn't, but I had an option for a substitute. I had bacon, but it was green...in a bad way, at that point I had to go back out to the store and then got tomato paste.

Making the Pestata and Starting the Braise

Using the food processor with the metal blade, mince the bacon and garlic cloves together into a fine pestata (paste).

This is really nasty! But once it starts cooking it's all ok.

Since you have the machine out, use it to chop the carrot, celery and onions if you want (you don’t need to wash the bowl). Process the carrot and celery into small fine bits. Reserve. Chunk up the onions into 1-inch pieces, put them into the food-processor bowl in batches, and pulse them to fine bits. Reserve.

Here are the carrots and celery chopped together, to give you an idea of the texture they need to be. Onions should be the same. (Those pictures didn't turn out, sorry.)

(Of course you can do all that by hand with a knife. It takes longer but is quite satisfying…according to Lidia.)

Rinse and dry the pork. Cut off some of the extra fat, but leave enough to flavor and render out. Sprinkle the pork generously with salt on all surfaces, patting it on. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan/Dutch oven, with a good cover, set over medium heat. Before it gets hot, lay the pork in and brown it—lightly—turning it after a minute or so on each side.

While the meat is browning, add the bacon & garlic pestata into the pan bottom; spread it out and let the bacon begin to render. Drop in the hot pepper flakes.

Early browning of the roast with the garlic/bacon mixture in the pot.

After 3 minutes or so of browning the pork, add the tomato paste into the fat; stir and caramelize minute. Dump the carrot and celery mixture into the pan bottom; stir for a minute, just to get them cooking. (Keep turning the meat so it browns evenly).

Tomato paste and the carrot/celery mixture added in.

Now scrape the onions into the pan, all around the meat. Sprinkle with remaining salt; raise the heat a bit, stirring the onions up from the bottom and mixing them with the oil, pestata and tomato paste. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring for about 5 minutes, until the onions are all hot and starting to sweat. Cover and turn the heat to medium-low.

Onions have been added and stirred into the other mixtures in the pot.

Braising the pork

The pork is now going to cook for 3 hours. Leave it alone for the first 45 minutes, then uncover and turn the meat, and stir the onions. They should be carmelizing and releasing liquid; if there is any sign of burning, lower the heat. Cover, and cook for another 45 minutes, turn the meat and stir the onions. They should be quite reduced in volume, in a thick, simmering sauce. Stir in 2 cups of hot broth, bring the liquid higher around the pork.

Cook, covered, for another 45 minutes, the stir. If the sauce level has dropped a lot and is beginning to stick, stir in another cup or two of broth. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.

Cover and cook another ½ hour to 45 minutes. Check the consistency of the onions—they should be melting into the sauce, and the meat should be soft when pierced with a fork. If satisfactory, remove from the heat; otherwise, cook longer, adding more broth, or, if the sauces seems thing, uncover and cook to reduce it.

All steaming and done! The kitchen and apartment was filled with an amazing aroma.

Pretty little roast.

Serving Salsa Genovese, Three Ways

As a primo, first course, for six: remove 2 cups of the onions sauce from the pot and put it in a large skillet. Cook 1 pound of rigatoni, or other pasta, and toss it in the skillet with the simmering sauce. Finish with extra-virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

As a secondo, main meat course, for six of more: remove the pork from the braising pot and cut out the blade bone (just lift eh cooked meat off it and remove the bone). Slice the pork against the grain in 1/3-inch slices, and moisten with the hot onion sauce from the pot.

The main course. As this was actually lunch, we just had it with some bread. If it was a main course for dinner, we would have added some salad and maybe roast potatoes!

As a meaty sauce for pasta: traditionally, the leftover meat and sauce from Sunday dinner were combined and served another day as a dressing for pasta, but you can dedicate any amount of Salsa Genovese to this marvelous mixture. Pull apart meat into pieces about ½ wide and toss with sauce. Heat two cups of sauce in a large skillet; refresh and extend it a bit with of extra virgin olive oil and broth, and bring to a simmer. Serve with rigatoni or ziti. Finish with more olive oil and freshly grated cheese.

After we had our lunch, we headed to see Superman Returns. (I LURVED IT SO MUCH!) Then we came home and had the sauce and meat with some homemade pasta! OMG, so good. I could have eaten another plate...good thing I only made 1/2 the pasta.

And I wanted to show my cute little platter I served the 'main course' on. I bought it at Williams-Sonoma two weeks ago. I have a companion plate with the beouf!

Ladies and Germs. These meals were amazing. But I won't kid...it took a major commitment on my part to make it. The braising itself took over three hours. The prepping didn't take too long. If you think you want this for lunch, start it around 9am. For dinner, I'd started at 3pm. And having it with pasta...really amazing. I wish there was more I could say...but it's something you just need to try!!!


DC Food Blog said...

Hmm...could this be a signature dish?

Dancer in DC said...

I've been sick the last couple days, but even through my sniffles, the smells from this dish permeated my lungs with warm comfort. The flavor really hits all of your taste buds at once and warms & covers your mouth and throat. The meat is very tender and flavorful.

The homemade pasta was a nice touch - so nice and "al dente".

Probably the best day of feasting I've had in months. (And apparently good for what ails you.)

Terri in WI said...

First... congrats on the 300th post!!

Second... I LOVE LIDIA! I would love to be adopted into her family, but I'm afraid I'd be big as a house in no time! I'd have seconds and thirds of everything and fight her grandkids and mother for the left over ravioli! I think this dish would be ideal on a cold Sunday afternoon in Wisconsin. I'd probably have the pasta tossed with the sauce then top it with slices of the pork. Mmmm...

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

Looks amazing! And what a coincidence, I have a nice pork roast in the freezer. This may be on the menu this weekend.

Lady Brandenburg said...

Good lord that is a lot of effort - kudos to you!!!

Chilefire said...

Wow Scott that looks terrific! (and congrats on your 300th post - I am working on my 90th now and 300 does seem a very, very long way away, way to go.) I love pork shoulder, I make both a chile and of course pulled pork with that same cut. Do you think that this is something that would turn out successfully in a largish slow cooker? or does the temperature really need to be higher to get it right? I am going to have to give that recipe a try (with guests so that I can send them away with the leftovers! I can make excuses to eat something like that one night - but more that one serving is going to make me feel very guilty!).

ScottE. said...

Chilefire: I'm not sure on a slow cooker. A major part of the recipe is getting the sauce to reduce and thicken, creating a more complex flavor. Perhaps it is something that starts on the stove, then transfer to a slow cooker? Worth experimenting!

We have enough left, Still, for a few more meals. I think there will be more pasta and sauce tonight.