Pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt, is a flavorful, often-underused cut that’s perfectly suited to braising—long, slow cooking. In this recipe, the braising liquid contains ingredients reminiscent of Chinese roasted pork. What you end up with is a tender, juicy dish that needs only some simple steamed rice and stir-fried string beans to round it out.
What to buy: Shaoxing is a Chinese rice wine that can be found in Asian markets and in the Asian section of some high-end grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can substitute dry sake or fino sherry.
Game plan: This dish is even better when it’s made a day or two in advance.
This recipe was featured as part of our Chinese New Year Dishes for Valentine’s Day photo gallery.
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 4 hrs 30 mins, plus chilling time
- Active: 40 mins
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 7 to 8 scallions, white parts smashed and green parts reserved
- 4 (1-inch-thick) pieces fresh ginger, smashed
- 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed
- 10 fresh cilantro stems, leaves reserved for garnish
- 2 (4-by-1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
- 2 whole star anise pods
- 1 (5- to 6-pound) boneless pork butt, shoulder, or blade roast, tied
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
To cook the pork:
- Combine water, soy sauce, wine or sherry, brown sugar, white parts of the scallions, ginger, garlic, cilantro stems, zest strips, and star anise in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add pork and return to a simmer. Simmer gently, turning pork over about every 30 minutes, until meat is very tender, about 4 to 4 1/2 hours.
- Cool pork in its cooking liquid, uncovered, about 1 hour, then chill, covered, at least 8 hours or overnight. (You can make this dish up to this point and hold until ready to serve if you like.)
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Skim fat layer off the top of the braising liquid and discard. Transfer chilled pork to a clean cutting board.
- Remove string and cut meat across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange pork slices in overlapping rows in a 13-by-9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
- Strain braising liquid through a sieve into a large bowl. Measure 2 cups of the cooking liquid and place in a small saucepan. (Reserve the remaining liquid for another use or discard. If you like, you may freeze it and use it the next time you make this dish.) Bring to a simmer and then pour over pork.
- Cover dish tightly with foil and place in the oven until thoroughly heated, about 30 minutes.
- Cut reserved green parts of scallions on the bias into thin slices. Carefully pour hot broth from the baking dish into a bowl and stir in scallion greens and grated zest. Serve pork with broth, topped with reserved cilantro leaves.
Beverage pairing: A light, spicy red wine is called for to match the star anise, cilantro, orange, and pork, something a little exotic and bright like a Sangiovese-based wine from Tuscany. A Chianti might be too big, so go next door for a Morellino di Scansano (same grapes) from Moris Farms, 2005.