Braised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash and Dried Plums
Pairs Well With
1-1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (butt), trimmed of fat, in 1-1/2 inch cubes
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 thick slices bacon, about ¼ pound, diced
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seed, ground fine in a mortar or spice grinder, or 1-1/2 teaspoons ground fennel
1 large fresh thyme sprig
2 cups chicken broth, diluted 50/50 with water if canned
½ pound peeled butternut squash, 1-inch cubes
12 dried plums
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
Season the pork all over with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, broad Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add the pork and brown well on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes, adjusting the heat to prevent scorching. Transfer the pork to a plate as it is done. Pour off the fat in the pot and return to low heat.
Add the bacon and let render slowly, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium-low, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the white wine, and simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon to release any meaty bits on the bottom of the pot, until reduced by half. Add the flour and ground fennel and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Return the pork to the pot along with any juices on the plate. Add the thyme sprig and broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 1 hour. Add the squash and dried plums, recover, and continue cooking until the pork and squash are tender, about 30 minutes longer.
Remove the thyme sprig. Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately in bowls, garnishing each serving with a little more parsley.