Author Notes: The sweet fennel, briny black olives, and bitter orange peel combine with rich braised pork shoulder to make for one irresistible dinner. I served this over soft polenta, but a root vegetable puree or risotto would also be good. Leftover pork can be pulled and used to dress pasta. - Sarah Fioritto
- 2 pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder
- Olive Oil
- 1/2 Large Red Onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 Fennel Bulb, cut in 1/4"-1/2" wedges, a few fronds reserved
- 1 cup Dry White Wine
- 4 Small Blood Oranges (or any thin-skinned orange), quartered (or cut in eighths if using larger oranges)
- 1/2 cup Flavorful Black Olives (such as Kalamata)
- 2 cups Chicken Stock (preferably homemade, low-sodium if using canned)
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Cut the pork shoulder crosswise into 4 even pieces. Secure each piece with kitchen twine so they will stay together while braising. Season with salt and pepper. Heat about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy, lidded pot. Brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove meat from pan and transfer to a rimmed plate. If there is more than a thin coating of fat in the bottom of the pot, drain some off. If the pot seems too dry to sauté onions in, add a little oil.
- Sauté the onion in the Dutch oven until softened, about 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Add fennel seeds and tomato paste to clear spots; toast the seeds and caramelize the tomato paste, about 1 minute. Stir to combine with the onions. Add the fennel wedges, season lightly with salt, and sauté, coating with tomato paste and onions, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the oranges and olives and return the pork to the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. When the liquid reaches a simmer, cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Braise until the meat is tender and just starting to fall apart, about 2 hours. Flip the meat halfway through.
- Transfer the pork, fennel, oranges, and olives and to a rimmed plate or bowl. Remove the string from the pork and tent with foil.
- Meanwhile, place the Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat. Simmer until the liquid has reduced slightly, about 10 minutes. Taste and season, if necessary, with salt and pepper.
- Divide the pork, fennel, oranges, and olives between warm plates (or serve it family style on a large platter). Spoon the reduced braising liquid over the meat and garnish with fennel fronds, if desired.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Fennel