Oven Braised Pork Italian Style

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It’s the end of March but yesterday the wind howled and gusted in what was hopefully a last ditch effort of winter.  I didn’t want to venture out unless I had to and luckily I didn’t so I decided to slow cook some pork Italian style – ultimate comfort food.

This is a fairly simple and straightforward dish with deep rich flavors and tender pork.  It takes a while to make but that is because of the time in the oven, not the preparation.  Of course you can always sear the pork and veggies in a pan and then transfer to a crock pot, but I don’t have one at this time and the oven works quite well as long as you’re home.

First I seasoned pork cubes (stew meat) with salt, pepper, dried rosemary, thyme and some flour.  I seared them in oil in a hot pan until really brown and carmelized on all sides.

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I removed the meat from the pan and sauteed onions, garlic, peppers and celery until just translucent.  I put the pork back in and let them get happy together for a minute while I stirred them around.

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Next I added some red wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, a bay leaf and a rind of parmesan.

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I transferred the pork and tomato mixture to a casserole pan, covered it in foil, and baked it at 350 for two hours.

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Oven Braised Pork:

1 pound cubed Pork stew meat

1 onion diced

1 small red peper diced

2-3 celery stalks diced

4 cloves garlic minced

1/2 cup red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti

1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon each dried thyme and rosemary

1 bay leaf

2 Tablespoons flour

1 parmesan rind

salt and pepper

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl combine pork, salt and pepper, the thyme, rosemary and the flour.  Stir until coated and put into a hot oiled pan.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes in the pan – resist the urge to stir right away.  You want the meat to be a deep rich brown color all around.  Turn the meat after two or three minutes, repeating until all sides are seared.  Remove from the pan and turn the heat down, then add the veggies with a little more oil, and season with salt and pepper.  When they are translucent add the garlic and the bay leaf and stir for a minute.  Add back in the pork and stir together, letting the mixture settle together.  Pour in the wine, vinegar, tomato sauce and paste, worcestershire sauce, parmesan rind and taste for salt and pepper.  Let the mixture come to a slight simmer and then transfer into a casserole dish.  Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately  2 hours.  You will want to check the pork after an hour and a half.  If it’s reduced too much stir in a little more wine.  If  the pork is still fairly tough it might need to cook for 2 and 1/2 hours.  This is a bit of a subjective dish timewise because all pork is not the same and ovens can vary in their temperatures.  When it’s done the tomato sauce is thick and rich, the pork is fork tender and there is a sharp rich taste of Parmesan.

This recipe makes 2 large servings or 4 smaller portions.  If you want to double it you will need to sear the pork in batches so it can brown evenly, and it might also take a bit longer in the oven – perhaps another 20-30 minutes.

You can serve this over penne or even ravioli but I like it just on it’s own, topped with some fresh goat cheese and a garnish of greens.  Feel free to use Parmesan or your own favorite cheese.

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