Friday, October 7, 2011

Piccolo Italian-style Pulled Pork

I don’t know why, but so many delicious pork recipes call for a whole pork shoulder or pork butt. Both cuts are from the leg, not from what you or I refer to as butt. But regardless, those cuts are usually 5 to 7 pounds of meat, and while I like to freeze extra for days I’m too busy to cook (read that as lazy), that’s enough to feed an army and we’re a household of 2, or 2.5 if you count the dog.

This is called piccolo, because, well, you’re not cooking a whole pork butt or shoulder. No less delicious, and if you have a small household, you won’t have to eat it every day for a week. In our house this is 6 servings. We like to eat. This gives us one dinner and one night of leftovers with another two portions for the freezer.

Italian Piccolo Pulled Pork
6-8 servings

3-½ lbs boneless pork sirloin cut in 6 pieces
1 navel orange, preferably organic, sliced thin
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
2 Tblsp fennel seed
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, pulled from stem, rough chopped
6 cloves of garlic, smashed and rough chopped
2-3 bay leaves
Kosher salt, about a tablespoon
Coarse ground black pepper, about ½ to ¾ tsp
1-½ cups dry white wine

Brown gravy mix* for 1 cup of gravy
1 cup of white wine or chicken stock
Salt as needed

Place the pork in a big plastic zipper bag or a non- reactive bowl. Add everything except the gravy mix, and the last 1-1/2 cups of wine or stock, and toss well. Place in the refrigerator to marinate at least 6 hours or overnight.

About 4 hours before you plan to serve it, preheat your oven to 300°F. Place the pork and any accumulated juices in a Dutch oven or a casserole that can go on the stove and in the oven with a tight fitting lid, and place the covered pan into the oven. You don’t need to wait for the oven to reach temperature. Rearrange the meat every hour or so, keeping some orange pieces on top. It should be falling apart tender in about 3.5 hours.

Remove the pork from the oven. Remove the bay leaves from the meat discard. Mash the oranges into the meat and shred the meat with a fork or spoon. You can chill the pork at this point and continue a day or two later with the recipe just before serving.

Pour the white wine into the pork. Prepare the brown gravy according to package directions and add to the meat and juices in the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Place into the oven for ½ hour or until serving time.

* I use Simply Organic® since it doesn’t have anything “weird” in it. If you prefer, use 1 cup of jarred prepared, or your own, home-frozen or leftover. Chicken gravy works fine too, or 2T of flour slurry mixed into 1 cup cold water, simmered and add a spoon of beef or chicken base to it.

Makes a great pork sandwich, on a hard roll with provolone cheese and braised broccoli raab, or serve atop a mound of soft polenta, with a braised green on the side.

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