Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pork Confit - Part 1: A Fine Brine for Swine

Well, as you may have read in another post a few days ago, I’m getting ready to leave for Sonoma for the Dry Creek Valley “Passport” event. So, as warned, here is another older clip converted from my previous blog. It will be new to most of you and is a classic recipe. In part 1 of this 2 part demo, we will make a “brine” for a pork shoulder which in part 2 we will then “confit.” If you saw our duck confit clips you already know that confit means to cook meat for a very long time, at a low temperature in its own fat and juices. For this pork version we are going to brine the pork first, for 48 hours, to make it even more succulent.

Brines are getting very common these days. Many restaurants brine those big thick pork chops before they hit the grill to make them extra juicy. If you’ve watched Food TV over the last few weeks you probably saw dozens of turkeys getting a dunk. There are thousands of brine recipes, but they usually all contain salt, sugar and some types of spices. The brine you’ll see me prepare here is a fairly standard mix, and a great all-purpose version. Remember, your brine will only be as good as the spices you use in it, so use fresh, top-quality varieties.

By the way, the cut of pork we are using is a pork shoulder, which is more commonly called a pork “butt” in the meat market. Why would they call a shoulder a butt? Well, let me take you back to colonial New England. Back then the upper class preferred the more tender cuts like the loin, which is found along the back (top) of the pig (that’s where the expression “high on the hog” comes from). The lower classes were left with the tougher, “lower,” cuts like shanks and shoulders. These cheaper cuts were packed and shipped in barrels called “butts.” Eventually the pork shoulder became known as a Boston butt, or just plain pork butt. I know…fascinating! With info like this you’ll be a real star at that next cocktail party.

In our next clip, we’ll “confit” the shoulder, and then…well, you’ll just have to watch part 2.

3 lb Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast
1 tsp whole allspice berries
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
5 whole cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 cups boiling water
2 quarts cold water

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No fair!! showing us that plate at the end... I cant wait 2 days lol, youre a big tease.