Those are two pork shoulders in there, braising with mirepoix, good stock, fresh herbs, and caramelized apples.
Isn't it beautiful?
Sure, the finished plates are usually more attractive, but there's something even more compelling about the process. Look at those bobbing pieces of meat, being broken down as the heat surrounds them in the oven. (Okay, I made Danny take the braising pot out of the oven for this shot, but they went right back in.) It's the anticipation that makes this taste so good.
This is our way to ring in the new year. Friends are coming over for dinner. We'll eat tiny cheese-filled rolls, salads with pomegrantate seeds, roasted potatoes, sweet potato souffle, and brussels sprouts. At the end will be a cherry pie I'm making with the last bag of cherries we picked from our tree in July.
At the heart of the meal, however, will be these shoulder roasts, tender enough to fall away from the fork after nearly 10 hours of slow braising. We'll lift those forks to our mouths and bless the year that has passed.
We feel really grateful to be writing here, to spend time with those of you who are reading, to be able to cook and write and take photographs of the food we are making. We can't wait for more in 2010.
Happy New Year, everyone.
p.s. If you should want to make something like this dish, here's Danny's rapid-fire narrative of how to make these pork shoulders.
Take some rosemary, some sage (oh, I don't know, a big handful of each?), some black peppercorns, and lots of garlic. Smear the shoulders with them. Wrap them up and stick them in the fridge.
The next morning, wipe off all the stuff and put it to the side. Sear the shoulders in some canola oil. When they are nice and brown, put the shoulders on a plate. Wait.
Sauté off some mirepoix (you know, equal parts onion, celery, and carrots). When the onions are soft and browning, add in the rosemary, sage, peppercorns, and garlic that coated the shoulders. Cook until you can smell it all.
Put the shoulders into a huge braising pot. Add in the sauteed vegetables. Pour in hot stock to cover.
Brown apple halves in butter. When they have started to caramelize, throw them in with the pork.
Cook, at about 300, for hours and hours until the pork is tender enough to fall into pieces with the slightest touch of the fork.