Pasilla and Beer-Braised Pork Shoulder

Holiday gatherings with good friends and family inspired some serious cooking over the holiday. A favorite that must immediately be blogged about: the pork. 

We had a crew of friends in town to celebrate the new year in Chicago. We let them eat at plenty of delicious restaurants around the city, but had to treat our guests to a night of wine and good eats around the best table in town. The table in our house.

Pasilla and Beer Braised Pork Shoulder
cook time: 5 hours

1 4-5 lb boneless pork shoulder (tied up)
2 large yellow onion (sliced into thin strips)
4 dried pasilla peppers
1 bottle beer (I used Metropolitan Dynamo Copper Lager)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves

for the garlic paste rub:
3 large cloves garlic
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Take meat out of fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking to let it come close to room temperature.

As the meat rests, char the pasilla peppers on the stove top or in the broiler. Remove and cover with 3 cups boiling water. Let soak for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the peppers are fully submerged in the water. Remove stems and puree in a food processor. Set aside.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high - high heat. Add about 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan. Don't let it smoke or it will have a burnt flavor. Keep an eye on it.

Season the meat quite generously with salt and pepper. There are 4-5 lbs of meat, don't skimp or it won't taste like anything.

Sear meat on all sides, about 3-4 minutes a side. It should develop a nice brown crust. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add onion, cumin, mustard, oregano, bay leaves, s&p. Let cook for about 5 minutes. You may want to add a couple splashes of beer at this step to get the bits of pork fat from the bottom of the pan.

Add the beer and pasilla liquid to the onions. Add just a dash of s&p. Bring to a simmer.

To make the garlic paste rub: Check out this video if you've never made paste from garlic before. Make your garlic paste with 3 cloves of garlic and some salt, as shown in the video. Put in a small bowl and mix in cumin, cayenne, mustard, oregano, olive oil, s&p. Mix with your fingers or a small spoon, making a thick, oily paste. Slather all over the seared pork, pushing into any crevices.

Drop the pork into the dutch oven. It should be covered about 1/2 way in liquid. Cover, and pop into the oven.

Cook the pork for 5 hours, turning the meat over 1/2 way through. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes, covered in foil. Break the meat apart using a fork. It will just melt.

As the meat rests, move the dutch oven back to the stove top. Let the liquid and onions simmer until thickened a bit. Pour some of the liquid over the meat once it is pulled apart. Serve the rest of the liquid along side the pork. YUM!!

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