Last week Dean was feeling something simple and BBQ-ish so I threw together this fridge cleanout BBQ Sauce Braised Pork Shoulder using the last of last week's pork shoulder, the last of the accumulated BBQ sauce leftovers from Dean's rib smoking adventures (Dean's Bourbon Cola BBQ Sauce recipe HERE), the last onion of last week, and some other odds and ends.
Sometimes when I make things with a fatty cut of meat, people will ask if they can substitute it with something leaner. Well, you can, and it'll still be ok, but there is something so truly delicious about BBQ sauce that gets caramelized with pork fat. And the texture is so much more tender, too.
With this kind of preparation, I'd rather eat a little less of the fatty pork shoulder than double the serving of a leaner cut, but that's my preference.
If you don't care for pork, you can also make this with boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat cut into slightly larger pieces.
BBQ Sauce Braised Pork Shoulder
Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 1 hour total, 15 to 20 minutes active.
- 3.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 1.5-inch cubes
- 1.25 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
- 2 teaspoons neutral flavored oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- optional: up to 2 Tablespoons brown sugar if you like your BBQ sauce on the sweeter side, or if you have a fairly tart sauce that could use some mellowing with sugar. (Though you may not need it if you start out with an already sweet storebought sauce like Sweet Baby Ray's or Bull's-Eye . I used Dean's BBQ sauce, which is somewhat sweet, but also quite tangy.)
- optional: 1 to 2 Tablespoons apple cider or distilled white vinegar if you have a sweet sauce to start with and like your BBQ sauce flavor tangy
2) In a large pot, bring your oil up to medium high heat and sear the pork on two opposite sides for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
3) Add in the onion, garlic, BBQ sauce and water (and/or brown sugar and/or vinegar if you choose), give the mixture a couple of stirs, and cover completely until you hear the mixture boiling (should be 5 to 7 minutes).
5) At that point, turn the heat down to medium low, give the braise a couple of stirs, and simmer, completely covered, for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you can scrape any burnt solids from the bottom of the pot during this process, your heat's a little too high, and you should adjust it down slightly.
6) Remove the lid and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes to allow the liquids to reduce and concentrate in flavor, stirring occasionally. About halfway into this last simmer period is when you should taste the stew and adjust the seasoning for more salt and/or spices if you like. This will give the added seasoning time to meld. Always increase salt and spices in small amounts - you can always add, but you can't subtract.
We enjoyed ours with potato salad and the very last of the Cotton Candy grapes in the fridge.