Garlic-Studded Pork Shoulder With Anchovies & Calabrian Chiles

July  8, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 12 hours
  • Cook time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Whether you’re braising meat or vegetable, you follow the same simple procedure: sear, sauté aromatics, and simmer until tender. Here, pork shoulder is studded with garlic and seared until golden brown all around. Next, even more garlic is sweated down with briny anchovies and bright Calabrian chiles. After a splash of white wine, it simmers for hours until the pork gets all kinds of tender, moist, and succulent.

Although you can dig in right out of the oven, for best results chill overnight and enjoy the next day. When the braise is hot, the fibers of the meat are so tense they can’t retain much liquid. Allowing the meat to fully cool in the braising liquid will give those fibers a chance to relax and absorb those tasty juices, and once reheated will be moister than it was just out of the oven. As a bonus, the fat in the braising liquid will rise and congeal on top, so you can easily pop it off for a skim and cleaner tasting sauce.

If you want to have a go at a vegan braise, try this recipe for Cashew Milk–Braised Cabbage With Crunchy Chile Oil and learn more about how to braise here so you can gain the confidence to take this recipe off-script. —Sohla El-Waylly

What You'll Need
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Garlic-Studded Pork Shoulder With Anchovies & Calabrian Chiles
  • Pork shoulder
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) boneless pork shoulder (skin on or off)
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil
  • Braise
  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 8 Calabrian chiles, minced (or 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes)
  • 10 anchovy fillets
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • Gremolata bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup panko
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, plus sprigs to serve
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. With a sharp paring knife, poke 20 deep holes all over the pork. Place a garlic half in each hole and push it in to bury it. Sprinkle evenly with the salt.
  2. Add the oil to a medium Dutch oven and heat over medium high-heat until it shimmers. Sear the pork until all sides are deeply golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side. (If your shoulder is skin-on, brown the skin side only until lightly golden, about 4 minutes.) Remove from the heat, transfer the shoulder to a plate, and pour off any excess fat and discard.
  3. Now you’re ready to start the braise: Return the pan to medium-high heat, then add the oil and onion. With a stiff, flat-bottomed spatula or wooden spoon, use the moisture from the onion to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Keep scraping and stirring until your onions are light brown and fully wilted, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the Calabrian chiles, anchovies, and garlic. Keep sweating and stirring until the anchovies are fully dissolved and incorporated, about 5 minutes, using your spatula/spoon to smoosh them. Add the wine and parsley and simmer until mostly reduced, 8 to 10 minutes; when you drag your spatula/spoon along the bottom, it should leave a trail.
  5. Heat the oven to 350°F. Add 2 cups of water, the black pepper, and fennel and bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the pan (skin side up if there’s skin). The liquid should rise at least halfway up the pork; if not add more water. Cover and braise in the oven until the meat easily falls apart when you pierce it with a fork, 3 to 4 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, make the gremolata bread crumbs: In a medium nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, combine the panko and oil. Cook over medium heat, tossing and stirring frequently, until lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley, lemon zest, garlic, and salt, stirring and smashing with a spatula to make sure everything is evenly combined. Once there are no clumps of zest or garlic and the panko is an even golden brown, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain and cool. Once fully cool, store in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat.
  7. You can serve the braise as soon as it’s out of the oven—over polenta, mashed potato, or thick toast, sprinkled generously with gremolata crumbs and fresh parsley. But for best results, allow the braise to cool at room temperature for an hour, then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool overnight. The next day: Skim the congealed fat from the top, then serve the pork cold and thinly sliced. Or add 1/4 cup of water and gently reheat in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes, or until the center of the pork registers 165°F, then break off hunks with a fork. (Either way, don’t forget the gremolata bread crumbs and parsley.)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Catherine Thompson
    Catherine Thompson
  • Brad
  • LorriU
  • emilywools
Sohla El-Waylly is a Food52 Resident, sharing new riffable recipes every month that'll help you get creative in the kitchen. Watch her cook on YouTube in her new series, Off-Script With Sohla. Before she started developing fun recipes for home cooks, she worked as a chef in N.Y.C. and L.A., briefly owning a restaurant in Brooklyn with her husband and fellow chef, Ham El-Waylly. She lives in the East Village with Ham, their two dogs, and cat. Find out what else she's up to on Instagram @sohlae

5 Reviews

Brad January 1, 2022
I would be thrilled to get a dish so good at most restaurants. It's sensational and everyone I served it to raved about it (as did I). I followed the recipe exactly (using hot pepper flakes rather than Calabrian chiles, which I couldn't find) and wouldn't recommend changing a thing. And the parsley and lemon in the gremolata breadcrumbs do a beautiful job of cutting through the richness of the pork so don't skip them - they're easy and quick to prepare. I also love that you can prepare the dish the day before and then reheat, which is fantastic when you're preparing several courses. That's what I did.

In terms of serving, there's plenty of sauce/liquid so some crusty bread to soak it up is great. Or you can go with polenta, mashed potatoes, spinach, etc. even pasta. But this will go down as the best savory item I made in 2021.

Note though that I managed to serve this to 10 people (a 5-pound shoulder) and still had leftovers (not complaining), which are also great for sandwiches.
LorriU December 18, 2021
This is my weekend delight! Ready to start. I know the teacher was also a delight!
emilywools July 8, 2021
i have made this twice so far and its been incredible both times! its now my go-to meal for when I need to make a fancy meal for guests. Its also wonderful that you can make it ahead of time so you can spend time with your guests instead of hanging out over the stove.
Catherine T. March 19, 2021
Just tried out this technique and braise recipe with whole chicken legs (cook time for me in the oven was 45 min at 350). I held back a little with the anchovy and garlic and used home made poultry broth instead water. WOW WOW WOW. Definitely give this a try! You will not be disappointed. Cannot wait to make this again and and experiment with different proteins.
Lara D. March 15, 2021
This was unbelievable! This was such a good recipe to adapt if you need to make a smaller quantity. So flavorful, such great textures, and such a good technique to learn. Thank you, Sohla!