November 2011: Braised Pork and Coconut Soup (by Stephanie Izard)

A guest post by Nurture
Stephanie Izard (Top Chef Winner and Chef/Owner of The Girl and the Goat) supports the slow-food movement and can often be seen shopping local at Chicago’s Green City Market in Lincoln Park where Heather Sullivan recently saw her do a food demo.  It was quickly evident that not only is she an amazingly talented chef, she’s also friendly, funny and seems to thoroughly enjoy the simple act of sharing food.  This is a great thing for all of us because her food is amazing.  Thanks, Stephanie for sharing this delicious recipe with Nurture and for your support!

Braised Pork and Coconut Soup
Serves about 6

2 1/2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided into thirds
Coarse salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely diced, divided
2 ¼ cups dry red wine, divided
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1 quart chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons aji chile paste
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small lime, juiced
1/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped

1.   Rub the pork with the sugar, one third of the garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Place it in a glass bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

2.   Preheat the oven to 350°F.

3.   Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork and brown it on all sides. Remove and set it aside.

4.   Add 1 tablespoon more oil to the pot and lower the heat to medium. Add half of the onions and another third of the garlic and sweat by cooking until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of the wine, increase the heat to a simmer, then reduce the liquid by half.

5.   Reserve 1 cup of the tomatoes and add the rest to the pot. Add the peanut butter, stirring until it melts into the liquid. Add the broth, vinegar, mustard, fish sauce, fennel seeds, and chili paste. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the pork back in, cover the pot, and transfer it to the oven. Braise the pork until the meat is very tender, 3 to 3 ½ hours.

6.   Remove the pork from the liquid and set it aside to cool slightly. Strain the liquid and skim off the fat with a slotted spoon (alternatively, let the liquid cool completely in the refrigerator and skim off the fat cap that forms once it’s cold). Pull the meat away from the fat, discarding the fat. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.

7.   Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add the remaining onions and garlic and sweat by cooking them until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup wine, increase the heat to medium-high, then reduce the liquid by half. Add the reserved 1 cup tomatoes and the strained soup liquid. Simmer to reduce by one third, about 15 minutes.

8.   Stir in the meat and coconut milk. Simmer the soup for an additional 15 to 20 minutes so the flavors come together. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the soup among bowls, squeeze a bit of lime juice over each serving, and sprinkle with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Drink Tip: This soup packs complex flavors, and few beers are as complex as Belgian tripels, which earned their name because traditionally brewers used three times the amount of malt as they would for a “simple”. In both the soup and the beer, you’ll find earthiness, a touch of spice, and a bit of fruity sweetness.

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