Estofado de Cerdo
Estofado de cerdo ought really to be said "Estofado de carne de cerdo" which means braised meat of pork.
Pork is a favorite of many. Pork is tasty, no matter which cut of it you are eating, think loin, bacon, sausage, ham. A great cut, the shoulder, or rump, or ham (not American ham, but jamon, meaning hip or rump) is an especially flavorful cut of pork.
The shoulder is the cut of meat used in preparing pulled BBQ, which is a specialty and favorite of millions of people. It is also the cut of meat used to make carnitas, a wild favorite of anyone who loves Mexican food. Carnitas is prepared by braising just like we are doing in this recipe. The shoulder is the flavorful cut of meat that makes both these tender delicious favorites.
The dish I am preparing for you here is much the same as how pulled barbecued pork or carnitas is prepared however, we are using vegetables to braise it rather than barbecue spices and typically Mexican spices. It is a slow cooked, covered dish which is the definition of braising. As you will soon see, it is simple to prepare (as are many or most of the recipes in the M.D.R. page).
The result of the slow covered cooking method is that the meat will be fork tender, it will absorb the flavor of what you are cooking it with, in this case savory vegetables and mild peppers, and is so delicious that you will surely love it.
So let's get started!
The shoulder cut is the piece of meat that actually comes from the rump, the other "shoulder" that's in the hind quarter.
It is not a cut of meat that can be prepared any other way than braising because of the way the muscles of the meat all meet in this section. It is necessary to cook it in this particular way to bring out the tenderness. Baking such a cut of meat would only turn out tough and not edible. It is necessary to prepare it by braising it to achieve the tender and moist, mouth watering result you are after.
Purchase a shoulder cut that weighs 2 pounds (1 kg.). If you have a butcher, they will know exactly what you are looking for. Otherwise, they are found readily in the grocery meat department.
Oil the meat with a little bit of olive oil then cover it with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon chili powder.
Place in roaster.
Cover with the following vegetables:
6 large onions, sliced
6 large fresh tomatoes, quartered
6 large Anaheim peppers, seeded and sliced
Options of other vegetables that can be included are jalapenos, 2 or 3 seeded and diced into small pieces; 1/2 to 1 cup cilantro, diced; use green tomatoes in place of red tomatoes to make carnitas.
Your roast will look like this when its ready to go in the oven:
Cover it. The most important aspect of braising is to use a roaster with a good heavy solid-fitting lid, to keep the moisture in the pot. The best braising pot would be a oven friendly cast iron pot. It would need obviously to be large enough to accommodate the large amount of ingredients and also have a knob on the lid that can bake in the oven. Using a normal roaster is also just fine.
I was lucky and found a great, large enameled iron roaster at the flea market. That was a lucky day! They used to have these at Target, in America, too.
Bake in the oven for 1/2 hour at 350°F or 170°C. Turn the oven down to 200°F or 90°C and continue baking for 4 hours.
After it has finished cooking your pot will be full of great juice, your vegetables and meat juices have combined to make the sauce that gives this dish an enormously delicious flavor.
Then, remove your braised pork and pull it, using a meat fork and another fork, until it is in shredded pieces suitable for serving. Then replace it back in the soup that it has cooked in.
To serve, place over a bed of rice in a large serving bowl.
This recipe yields 10 servings.
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