If you were to ask me the one thing I couldn’t give up if I tried being vegetarian, my first response would be pork. Whether it is a shoulder, tenderloin, sausage, or bacon, it is my choice of meat. I love preparing it, and my family loves eating it!
One of my favorite things is designing recipes and adapting them to a healthy lifestyle. Now, pork shoulder is not generally thought of as “Healthy,” and, in truth, it isn’t. Unless you help it out, a little nudge, if you will. Removing excess fat before cooking and eliminating the intramuscular fat afterward is a great start.
Then, when you take care not to use the liquid as it is after cooking, combined with the nutrients from the vegetables, your meal is looking on the bright side. Paring with sides is easy, as pork goes with anything. Though I suggest accompaniments such as twice-baked butternut squash (find in our recipe tab!) or mashed celery root, it is up to you. Remember that you went through all the trouble of making this meal healthy; no reason to abandon it now!
- 1 pork shoulder (or Boston butt) 3-4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 medium onion quartered
- 2 medium unpeeled carrots cut into two-inch pieces
- 2 celery ribs cut into two-inch pieces
- 2-3 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 firm apple (fuji, cameo) with four vertical slits, one on each side
- Spices: 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 cups homemade chicken stock (Low sodium chicken stock is ok)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Cooking spray
- Combine all spices and a good pinch of both S & P and grind together with your fingers to make a rub.
- Spray pork shoulder with a little cooking spray, and massage the spice rub into the pork thoroughly. Allow the rub to incorporate for at least six hours, and it can be overnight in the fridge before cooking.
- Remove pork from the fridge, and wait 30 minutes before cooking.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and wait for the oil to shimmer; preheat oven to 300F.
- Place spice-rubbed pork in a pot and brown on all sides, remove from pan and set aside, discard most of the oil.
- Add vegetables (except garlic) to the pan and cook until a bit of browning occurs. Add garlic and cook until fragrant; add pork to the pan with the apple and pour in chicken stock.
- Cook for three hours, turning the pork every hour until finished. Pork should be fall-apart tender and have the light fragrance of apple pie. Remove from oven and let cool a bit, until you can remove from pan. Discard all the fat.
- Serve with mashed vegetables (as mentioned above) and a side salad.
If you choose, a nice crisp hard cider like Crispin’s “The Saint” is a delicious accompaniment.
Here is a little tip, strain the cooking liquid and discard the solids. Cool wholly uncovered overnight in the fridge in a shallow pan. The following day you can scrape off all the fat, and what is left behind is a beautiful pork stock for soup or as a base for beans.
BLE – Be sure to weigh your protein portion with as little liquid as possible; you want the meat, not the liquid, for this meal. The fat used in cooking the entire meal was insignificant and should not be counted.
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