Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Barbecue Leftovers Week: Braised Pork with Pears & Cabbage

I often slice smoked pork vs pull it, and when I judge barbecue competitions, I always appreciate the sliced entries. This doesn't mean I give them higher marks based on that fact, but you can't hide mistakes in a slice like you can when it's pulled. Pulled pork can be moistened up with sauce if it was overcooked, or can be pulled finely to hide that it wasn't ready yet. A slice gives you no such cover.

Now we all know, (don't we?), that if you are taking the time to smoke a pork butt (the Boston Butt cut often used to make pulled pork), then you may as well smoke two or three to put away for another day. If you do, consider leaving one butt whole, chill it, and slice in a day or two to make a recipe like this: Braised Pork with Pears and Cabbage. Because the pork is already cooked, the "braising" takes no time at all. It's a perfect fall meal. Apples may certainly be substituted - my brother dropped off a huge bag of perfectly ripe pears that needed to be eaten before they pearished. Dear me, bad pun. Let's get back to cooking.

Braised Pork with Pears & Cabbage
serves 8 (whole butt)


1 chilled pork butt

1 onion, diced

3 cups sliced cabbage (or slaw mix without the dressing)

1 julienned carrot

4 pears, sliced chunky

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: I kept this simple, as we have a kid pallet in our home. Add a few dashes of balsamic vinegar to the mix for some zing, or one sauteed jalapeno for some kick. I love the combination of hot peppers and pear - they are such polar opposites that they create an interesting balance.

Slice chilled pork butt in thick 1 inch slices. Place in a cast iron or heavy duty pan and heat on medium. Carefully flip. Once the fat is rendered from the slices (you will see it), carefully lift up slices with a spatula, and add in onion underneath. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

Onion becomes clear, lift up meat slices like before and add in pear. Lay meat back down and top with cabbage, carrot, more salt and pepper, and cover. Cook until cabbage is fully steamed.

Plate up with in order of the pot from the top: A bed of cabbage, then pork, topped with pear and onion "sauce". If your pork falls apart - oh well - it tastes just as good jumbled together.

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