Is there any better way to start a new week than with several meals in the refrigerator? Well, I suppose starting the week by boarding a plane—passport, sunglasses and flip flops in your carry-on, would actually be better. But a regular work week in the ambivalent in-between-winter-and-spring bridge month of March? The nicest way to start is with an assurance of lunches and dinners already thought out, shopped for, cooked, and just waiting to be eaten.
No scrambling for food for tomorrow’s lunch. No interminable grocery stops on the way home. The promise of something healthful and delicious handy for a quick meal before moving on to the evening’s plans. No “do I cook or do I exercise tonight?” dilemma. Bliss, I’m telling you. Peaceful, orderly bliss.
I’m happy to say that this was one of those weeks. Of course, these things don’t just happen. Michael made a giant batch of his superlative spaghetti with meat sauce on Saturday evening. Then on Sunday, I entered into a perfect frenzy of cooking: braised pork shoulder, roasted root vegetables, rosemary dinner rolls, sautéed asparagus, deep-fried Brussels sprouts, and salsa verde.
The beauty of a pork shoulder is that once it goes in the oven to braise, it requires no attention at all for around three hours, during which there is time to—oh, I don’t know, watch remodeling shows all afternoon on the Home and Garden Network—or whatever your fancy.
On Sunday afternoon, the rolls slowly rose on the warm stovetop as the pork shoulder cooked below. As dinner time approached, things heated up. The root vegetables were peeled and chopped, stirred with a quick slosh of olive oil and a handful of rosemary, and put in the oven to roast. When the pork and root vegetables came out, the rolls went in. The salsa verde took a quick joyride in the blender. The Brussels sprouts and asparagus were cleaned and cut. At the very last minute, as the Brussels sprouts spattered and popped like firecrackers in the hot olive oil, and I held the frying screen like a warrior’s shield, Michael zipped in and gave the asparagus a quick sauté.
After a classic Sunday night dinner like Grandma used to make, the amount of leftovers was truly impressive in scope and magnitude.
Divided into about 6 million containers, this food would sustain both of us through the coming days. I staggered home under the weight of my share, as happy as if I were Bilbo Baggins bearing gold and jewels purloined from the dragon’s lair.
If, for some crazy reason, you don’t want to eat pork shoulder for your next five or six meals, the leftovers do freeze well.
Crispy Braised Pork Shoulder
- 1 4-5 lb Pork Shoulder
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups white wine
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp cumin
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Pat pork dry and sprinkle all over with salt. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in dutch oven over moderately high heat, then brown pork on all sides. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover pot with lid, then transfer to oven and braise, until center is tender enough to pull apart with two forks, approximately 3 hours.
Transfer pork to a cutting board, slice, and remove excess fat. Discard braising liquid or reserve for another recipe. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in dutch oven, then fry slices of pork (slices may fall apart) until lightly crispy.