This is definitely an “abundanza” dish—and that’s the idea. Hearty and satisfying. Just a couple of things to note: Ask your butcher for a leaner shoulder since you’re braising and not grinding (a really fatty shoulder is perfect for sausage, just FYI), and feel free to braise the meat up to 5 days in advance. Just store it in its liquid (refrigerated) until you’re ready to reheat, then you’re in business.—Paul Kahan
Braised Pork Shoulder with Chorizo and White Beans FAQs
You can use one of any number of bean varieties, like white runner bean, giant Peruvian lima, great Northern, butter beans, or cannellini. Super-bonus points for using fresh shelling beans. And if using canned is the difference between making this dish or not, use canned.
We suggest that you don’t. Our testers noted that the apples tasted best when prepared fresh, right before serving. This also means that you don’t want to double the salad (unless you’re sure it will all be eaten that day) because the leftovers won’t keep. Since this recipe makes quite a bit of braised pork, you’ll want to make a new apple salad on consecutive days.
Braised Pork Shoulder with Chorizo and White Beans
- Butcher’s twine
For the brine
- 1 (3- to 4-pound) pork shoulder
- 1/2 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/3 cup Morton kosher salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried
- 1 small bunch plus 8 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
- 2 small (10 oz) onions, 1 quartered and 1 thinly sliced
- 2 quarts water
For the braised pork
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 (3 1/2 oz) carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 stalk fennel, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 quart store-bought or homemade chicken stock or water, plus more as needed
For the chorizo and white beans
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces Spanish dry chorizo, cut into 1⁄4-inch-wide (6-mm) slices
- 1 large (8 oz) Spanish onion, diced
- 2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup hard cider
- 1/2 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight and drained, or 2 (15.5-ounce| 440-g) cans white beans, such as cannellini or butter beans
- 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
Brine the pork shoulder
- Trim the excess fat from the pork shoulder. Cut the meat away from the bone, if necessary. Roll the meat into a bundle and tie with butcher’s twine to secure.
- In a stockpot, combine the salt, sugar, peppercorns, chile flakes, 2 fresh or 1 dried bay leaves, 8 sprigs thyme, and the quartered onion with the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat and let the brine cool completely.
- Pour the brine into a large bowl. Submerge the pork shoulder in the brine, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Braise the pork shoulder
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
- Remove the pork shoulder from the brine and rub it down with the paprika. (No need to wipe it off first.)
- In a large Dutch oven, lidded pot, or roasting pan, combine the pork shoulder, carrot, fennel, sliced onion, garlic, a bunch of thyme, and 1 bay leaf. Pick a cooking vessel that is big enough to hold everything, but not so big you need a gallon of stock to reach three-quarters of the way up the shoulder to keep the pork moist as it cooks.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, wine, honey, and vinegar. Pour the mixture over the pork. Add enough stock to come up to the “shoulders” of the meat. Cover the pork tightly with the lid or seal with two pieces of foil.
- Cook until the pork is very tender but not totally falling apart, 4 to 6 hours. Remove the bay leaves and thyme branches and discard. The pork can be braised up to 1 day ahead. Cool and refrigerate. Reheat in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 45 minutes.
Cook the chorizo and white beans
- While the pork is braising, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the chorizo, onion, apples, garlic, and paprika. Cook until the vegetables are soft but not browning, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. When the onion starts to color, pour in the cider. Cook until the cider reduces almost entirely, 2 to 4 minutes.
- If using dried soaked beans, add the soaked beans to the pot with enough water to cover by 1-inch (25 mm). Cook over medium heat until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.If using canned beans, dump in the beans and liquid from the cans and cook until the liquid reduces a bit and the flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve the pork
- Add the beans to the pot with the pork and continue cooking, uncovered, until the beans and cooking liquid are bubbling and a little reduced, about 20 minutes more. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Use two forks to gently pull the pork apart into large chunks, discarding any twine.
- In a medium bowl, toss together the apple, parsley, lemon juice, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top the pork and beans with the apple salad and serve out of the pot.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
One cannot have too many variations on low and slow-cooked pork shoulder, and this braised pork shoulder is smoky and flavorful with all the paprika, cider, wine, and chorizo—no bland beans here.
The apple salad is perfectly seasoned and a needed counterpoint to so many beans, so buy more apples to have on hand for each night of reheating—the salad doesn’t keep. We drank the rest of the British hard cider (Samuel Smith’s) we used in the recipe with the dish, and it was too sweet, so think about it as an aperitif instead.
This braised pork shoulder with chorizo and white beans is clearly a labor of love, but well worth the effort, even with the lengthy braise time. You should make this for the one you love! I can report that the one I love was over the moon about this pork shoulder. My house was filled with wonderful scents during the long braise.
The preparations are simple. I did have to wrestle with the pork shoulder to debone and tie it, but that was really the only difficult part of the preparation. I went a bit rogue on the bean preparation and used the pressure cooker to cook the beans after soaking. This isn’t necessary, but I was very pleased with the results. I wanted to be sure the beans were fully cooked and that there wasn’t a lot of the residue that sometimes pops up from boiling beans. I used the pressure-cooked beans as if they were canned beans.
The beans and the apple salad are the highlights of this recipe. Sweet, smoky, tart, and crunchy. Hard to know which part I liked best. The long braise produced very tender pork that served as the blank canvas for the festival of flavor brought together in this recipe. This is comfort food at its best. The perfect recipe for a slow food weekend. The flavors deepen on the second and third days.