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Southern Braised Pork Necks Recipe


Southern Pork Necks


When we got our first batch of pigs back from the butcher, we wondered how on earth we were going to sell chunks of bone-in pork necks. This recipe was born from that query. Luckily, we hit the nail on the head the first time we did a test batch. Our youngest child, who was 7 years old at the time, asked for seconds of this meaty dish the first time we made it. Normally, he has a huge sweet tooth and eats the minimal amount to dinner possible to get dessert. Not this time. Pork necks with gravy, mashed potatoes, and sautéed chard was better than a cookie! The neck is the most worked part of the pig, so it’s the toughest and most flavorful part of the animal. Braising it in a flavorful liquid breaks down the meat into the most tender, succulent pork you’ll ever taste. If you can’t find pork necks, pork shoulder cut into 1” chunks will be a good substitute but won't create a sauce quite as unctuous as if using the neck.

Preheating a conventional oven to 400° F (200° C) or 375° F (190° C) on a convection oven is going to be the first step. This will be necessary to get the pork bones & meat browned properly. Using a pot on the stove would require browning in multiple batches and won't make good surface contact with the irregular shape of neck pieces. There's no need to add additional oil to this already fatty cut of meat.

While the oven is preheating, utilize this time to cut your veggies. Peel one large yellow onion and dice it into 1/4" pieces. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of two large carrots and dice them into 1/4" pieces as well. Follow that by dicing two ribs of celery into 1/4" pieces. Making the cuts as uniform as possible with a good quality chef's knife will promote even cooking. Larger pieces will still have a raw taste while smaller pieces could potentially burn. Peel and mince four cloves of garlic. You could also use a microplane to finely grate it instead.

Place 2 pounds of pork necks on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. In the meantime, heat a large pot over medium heat. Using lard will add a little extra pork-goodness to this dish, but a good quality butter or avocado oil would be acceptable substitutions. Melt the lard (or other fat) and add the carrot, celery, onion & 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the pot. Cook for about 12-15 minutes until the veggies have softened.

Add the garlic & 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to the pot and stir to combine with the other vegetables. Once the garlic is fragrant, add a tablespoon of paprika & a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper while stirring for another 30 seconds.

Add the roasted pork necks, two cups of homemade (or low-sodium store bought) chicken stock, two tablespoons of good quality dijon mustard, & two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the pot. The acidity of the tomato paste, mustard, and vinegar will help balance the rich & fatty pork to create a well rounded sauce.

Cover the pork with additional stock or water if it isn’t fully submerged. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to low, and simmer for about 2 hours. Check to make sure the pork is fall-apart-tender and cook longer if not, checking every 10-15 minutes. Once it is tender, remove the pork onto a large plate or sheet pan.

Use an immersion blender to purée the veggies into the cooking liquid. Reduce over medium heat until thick & gravy-like. Optionally, pull the meat from the bones once it’s cool enough to handle. This will make for a much more enjoyable eating experience, so it's highly recommended. Once the consistency of the gravy is to your liking, taste for seasoning, sprinkle in more kosher salt if necessary, add the pork back to the pot, and coat it completely.

4 servings - 2 hours inactive cook time - 45 minutes active cook time

 Ingredients:

2 lbs. pork necks

2 tablespoons lard or butter

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Preparation:

  1. Preheat your conventional oven to 400° F (200° C) or 375° F (190° C) on a convection oven.

  2. Place the pork necks on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

  3. Heat a large pot over medium heat.

  4. Melt the lard (or butter) and add the carrot, celery, onion & salt to the pot.

  5. Cook for about 12-15 minutes until the veggies have softened.

  6. Add the garlic & tomato paste to the pot and stir to combine with the other vegetables. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the paprika & black pepper while stirring for another 30 seconds.

  7. Add the roasted pork necks, chicken stock, mustard, & vinegar to the pot. Cover with additional stock or water if the pork isn’t fully submerged.

  8. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to low, and simmer for about 2 hours.

  9. Check to make sure the pork is fall-apart-tender and cook longer if not.

  10. Once the pork is tender, remove it onto a large plate or sheet pan. Make sure you get all of the solids out of the pot.

  11. Use an immersion blender to purée the veggies into the cooking liquid.

  12. Reduce over medium heat until thick & gravy-like. Taste and season with additional salt if necessary.

  13. Optionally, pull the meat from the bones once it’s cool enough to handle.

  14. Once the consistency of the gravy is to your liking, add the pork back to the pot and coat it completely.

 

Serving:

Serve the pork & gravy on top of a starch such as mashed root vegetables, rice, or buttered noodles. Pair with a serving of sautéed rainbow chard or other type of green.


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