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Author Notes: When you don't have a lot of money to spend on a meal - to make something a feast, you need to put in some more time. This meal is cheap but it requires an investment of time to make it a feast! As an omnivore, I have a hard time imagining a true feast without a meat element. Pork shoulder is one of the most inexpensive delicious cuts of meat and fits the bill of a cheap feast perfectly. Another important way we can all save money and improve our health and our environment is to rethink the role of meat in our meals. Meat is delicious but it doesn't need to occupy most of our plates. Make it perfect and let it shine as a co-star along side some delicious greens and grains. I love the way Suzanne Goin takes a beautifully cooked protein and nestles it into a bed of vegetables and grains. And that is a perfect technique to serve a cheap feast. My pork shoulder is glazed with a sweet-tangy balsamic glaze. To counter that sweetness I wanted a nice bitter green - here, broccoli rabe that is tamed slightly with some garlic and nestled into a bed of toasty farro. I get my farro in the bulk bins so it is pretty cheap - but to make it even more economical, I mixed the farro with some long grain brown rice. Cheaper and a beautiful textural contrast. Into the grains are little studs of balsamic beets and on top is some crunchy toasted walnuts. Not counting pantry staples (olive oil, balsamic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, brown sugar) this feast worked out to a little over $5 per person. Not too shabby. This dish has a lot of components but you can make most of them ahead of time - another good thing for a feast. —meganvt01
Serves 10 (at least)
Balsamic Glazed Pork
- One 7 to 8 pound bone-in pork shoulder
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- The night before your feast, mix the salt and sugar and rub it all over the pork. Let the pork sit over night in the refrigerator.
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Remove the pork from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking to let it warm up a bit. Place the pork in a baking dish and cover with foil. Let it cook for 6 hours, basting occasionally.
- While the pork is cooking mix the balsamic, brown sugar, and mustards in a small saucepan and simmer over medium until the mixture thickens slightly. About 10 mins, depending on how thick your balsamic was to begin with.
- When your pork is tender enough to yield to a spoon, crank up the heat to 400 and brush the glaze over the pork. Roast, uncovered, until your glaze crisps up, but be careful not to let it burn, about 20 mins.
- Let the pork stand for 15 mins. Slice or tear (or a combination if you like it to look rustic). You can strain the fat from the pan juices and serve alongside the meal but warn your guests that this delicious sauce can be salty from the pork curing salt so use it sparingly (but that porky sauce is sooo good!) Serve over grains and greens below.
Grains and Greens
- 2 cups farro
- 1 cup long grain brown rice
- 1 cup sweet onion, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 generous sprigs of thyme
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe chopped, about 8 cups
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 2 bunches of beets, peeled and chopped into 1/3 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Farro - In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 cup onion, 1 bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 sprig thyme and saute for 5 minutes over medium. Add the farro and saute it for 3 minutes to get toasty. Add 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 mins. The farro should be tender but not soft. Strain the farro and remove the bay leaf and thyme stem. Spread on a cookie sheet to cool and avoid over cooking.
- Rice - in a medium saucepan add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 cup onion, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 bay leaf, and 1 sprig thyme and saute for 5 minutes. Add rice and saute for 3 minutes until toasty. Add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 - 50 minutes (check your rice's cooking time) until tender. Pull out bay leaf and thyme stem and spread on cookie sheet.
- Toss beets with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 oven for 20-25 minutes until fork tender, tossing a few times while cooking. Toss the cooked beets with 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.
- Fill a large pot with water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and blanch broccoli rabe for 2 minutes. strain and spread on a cookie sheet.
- All of the steps until now can be done several hours ahead!
- To assemble the final dish: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in each of two large skillets. Divide the red pepper and garlic evenly and cook over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant Divide up the farro, rice, broccoli rabe, and beets evenly between the pans and cook over medium high, toasting the grains slightly and heating everything through. Spread the mixture over a very large serving platter. Add the sliced meat on top and sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the grains and greens.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Cheap Feast