photo courtesy of eatfamilystyles.com

Luella’s Coca-Cola Braised Pork Shoulder

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photo courtesy of eatfamilystyles.com

recipe originated from SFGate.com

Sometimes what seems like an incongruous ingredient can make the most spectacular dish. For a prime example you don’t have to look any further than the braised pork shoulder at Luella restaurant.
1896 Hyde St. (at Green), San Francisco; (415) 674-4343 or luellasf.com.

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The secrets:
Coca-Cola: People may not be able to pick out its distinctive flavor, but it brings out the best in this cut of pork.

Cooling the meat overnight: After cooking, the meat is left in the braising liquid, which intensifies the flavor and tenderness.

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Luella’s Coca-Cola Braised Pork Shoulder

Serves 12, with leftovers

Luella executive chef Ben de Vries uses a blend of chicken stock and Coca-Cola to braise the meat. The soda’s sweetness heightens the flavor of the meat, and is balanced by the pickled onions. The meat can be partially cooked ahead, and the onions and puree can be made up to a week ahead.

INGREDIENTS
Pork shoulder
8 lbs boneless pork shoulder
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Oil for searing
2 liters regular Coca-Cola (see Note)
1 gallon low-salt chicken stock or broth
White bean puree
3 cups dried cannellini beans (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Pickled red onions
1 large red onion (about 12 oz), sliced lengthwise about 1/4-inch thick
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup julienned mint leaves

For the puree: Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain, then place the beans in medium saucepan; cover with water, add a splash of olive oil, reduce heat and simmer until very soft, adding more water as needed.

Drain the beans and puree in a food processor until smooth, adding enough olive oil (and some of the cooking liquid) until the beans have a mashed potato-like consistency; season with salt and white pepper to taste. Set aside. (The puree can be made up to a day ahead. Before serving, rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. If made ahead and refrigerated, you may need to adjust the consistency with a little more oil.)

For the pork: Season the pork with salt and pepper. Drizzle oil onto the bottom of a deep pan to barely cover, then set the pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside.

Pour the Coca-Cola into the pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, scraping up any stuck bits of meat from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced to about 3 cups. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil again, and cook until liquid reduces by about a quarter, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Carefully place the meat into the liquid, cover and bake for about 2 hours, or until the meat falls apart easily. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest, still covered and in its liquid, for at least 1 hour. If making ahead, cool and refrigerate overnight.

For the onions: Combine the onions, vinegar and sugar in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool. Adjust flavor with more vinegar or sugar as desired, then refrigerate until chilled. (The onions can be made up to a week ahead.)

To finish the meat: Remove the meat from the liquid (save the liquid in the pot), and remove and discard any visible fat. Preheat the oven to 400°. Bring the pot of liquid to a boil on the stove, then return the meat to the pot. Bake, uncovered, until the meat is warmed through, about 1 hour.

Remove the meat from the pan and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the sauce to a hard simmer, and cook until it reduces to a light syrup (slightly thinner than maple syrup).

To serve: Spoon warm white bean puree onto a plate; top with pork and drizzle with sauce. Drain the onions and combine with mint; use to garnish the pork. Serve immediately.

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