Pomegranate & Spice Braised Pork

Last night I made Pomegranate & Spice Braised Pork, a recipe I’d seen in the Wine section of the Chronicle a couple of weeks before. I had actually meant to make it Monday night, but I miscalculated when I had to start on the recipe so I left it for dinner last night.
I followed the original recipe quite faithfully, though I used regular anise seeds instead of the star anise, I chopped rather than pounded the garlic (misread it) and used a good quality cab instead of the fruity wine (I wasn’t serving it with wine any way, and wanted to use what I had open).
The results were quite good, the sauce was sweet but not overwhelmingly so and complimented the pork quite well. Mike liked it, but he found the pork a little dry. I don’t know if somehow I failed in cooking it, or this is related to how lean pork nowdays is (and I may have messed up by cutting off the lawyer of fat on the outside of the pork shoulder). I thought the pork was fine – though the fattier parts were definitely tastier – but I found the sauce to be too one-dimensional. It was just there, tasting good but with no complexity to it. It bore me. I served the dish with couscous (always a good choice for any sweet sauce) and I do have to admit that it went wonderfully with it – the couscous much better than the pork set off the different flavors within the sauce.
It was an easy dish to make, though as with any braise dish it takes quite a while to cook. Pork shoulder is relatively cheap, but beware that a bottle of pomegranate juice cost me $6, the hoisin sauce was another $3 – so this dish can get expensive. Another caveat is that it smells just like cinamon rolls while it’s cooking, it may give you a craving 🙂

  • 3 1/2 to 4 lbs bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsps.. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 slices fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. anise seed
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsps. fish sauce
  • 2 tsps. hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar, or to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Season all sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Brown all sides of the pork in the oil. Remove and set aside.
Fry the onions until transluscent. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic. Add the ginger, anise seed, cinnamon andn peppercorns and stir. Add the pork, wine, pomegranate juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and hoisin sauce.
Stir, bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Check the level of tartness and if needed add the brown sugar.
Continue to simmer for 1 hour, turn the roast, and simmer for another 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender.
Remove the meat and set aside. Bring the sauce to a hard boil, uncovered, and boil until it’s reduced by 1/2 to 1/4th. Meanwhile, slice the meat. When the sauce has reduced, strain it, discard the solids and return the liquid to the pot. Add the pork to the liquid and simmer it for a few more minutes until it gets warm. Serve.

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