This dish takes a few days to make but the time spent is worth it. The pork was succulent and tender, the squash and onion sweetness are offset by a touch of balsamic vinegar and the orzo absorbs all of the rich broth and makes a lovely bed for the chunks of pork.
Slow Braised Pork with Butternut Squash and Orzo
1.75 pound slice of fresh pork medallion (the shoulder or picnic roast), tied with butcher’s twine
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed, or 1 1/2 tsp of cumin powder
zest of an orange
1/3 cup olive oil
fresh ground pepper
1 tsp salt
The marinaded pork medallion
Salt and pepper
1 tsp bacon or duck fat (or olive oil)
3 small Spanish onions, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
1 Tbl dry sherry
1/2 package or 1/2 pound orzo
1 cup parsley, chopped (although I had run out I would normally have used it)
More salt and pepper
Note: you can use a larger piece of pork or an entire pork roast, you will just need to increase the quantity of the marinade and braising liquid.
Day 1 – Marinade the Pork:
Place all the ingredients in a plastic bag, seal the bag with as little air as possible and massage the marinade evenly around the pork. Chill overnight or at least 6 hours.
Day 2 – Braise the Pork:
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Remove the pork from the marinade and scrape off as much marinade as possible. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Over medium high heat, heat up a dutch oven or stove and oven safe pot with a lid and heat the fat. Brown the pork well on all sides and remove to a plate. Pour off most of the fat, and return the Dutch oven to the stove. Saute the onions until softened, then add the chicken broth and vinegar. Return the pork and any juices to the pan and scrape out as much marinade as possible from the plastic bag into the braising liquid. When the broth has come to a simmer, put the lid on the Dutch oven and place in the oven.
After a hour, turn the pork over and return to the oven. After 2 hours, turn the pork over and add the butternut squash and return to the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove the pork into a storage container, and using either a slotted spoon or a strainer, pour off the braising liquid into a second storage container. Add the vegetables on top of the pork and chill both the meat and the broth overnight or at least 6 hours.
Day 3 – Finishing the Dish:
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Place the pork and vegetables into a covered casserole dish. Remove the fat from the top of the braising broth (discard if desired) and add the broth to the casserole. Cover and heat in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the broth is bubbling gently. Taste for salt and pepper. Add the orzo and cook for 15 more minutes.
Remove the pork to a plate and discard the butcher’s twine and break the pork gently into chunks. Spoon the orzo and vegetables onto a heated serving platter and put the pork on top. Garnish with parsley and serve.