We used our Oktoberfest collaboration to headline mouthwatering braised pork shoulder. The beer lets loose its malt complexity and a bit of caramel sweetness.
It’s a lengthier cook time of 3-4 hours, but the reward is unreal.
“The braise breaks down the [pork],” says Jessie Massie, our executive chef in Mills River. “It pulls apart, it’s a lot more tender.”
And right when the meat nears the finish line, consider whipping up our cabbage-apple sauté whose flavors span sweet, bitter and savory. Serve it on a separate plate or, like we did, pile the pork right on top and invite your friends to dig in.
Just like that, you’ve turned your backyard into a beer garden.
OKTOBERFEST BRAISED PORK SHOULDER
1 bottle of Oktoberfest: And another one to sip. That’s “optional,” but in a wink-wink way.
3 pounds of pork butt or pork shoulder, cut into 3-4 uniform pieces: This is about the typical size you’ll find in the grocery store. We sourced ours from a choice North Carolina farmer, Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork. (Note: if you use bone-in meat, it may take longer to cook.)
1 tablespoon canola oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste: “Braises are easy to under season,” Jessie says, so be generous with salt and pepper on the raw pork before searing.
1 large carrot, rough chopped: You’re not going to use your carrots, celery and onion afterward, so don’t overthink how you cut them.
2 celery stalks, rough chopped
1 onion, rough chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste: Jessie notes that it can be hard to use all the tomato paste from a can or jar before it goes bad. Consider separating it into 2-3 bags and freeze them for future cooking. (Tip: flatten the bags of tomato paste for quick thawing.)
4 cups pork stock or chicken stock: We cooked homemade pork stock—a 24-hour process—using the leftover bones from a whole-hog butchery workshop Jessie organized for the Taproom staff.
3 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme, fresh
On medium-high, preheat a heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven. Swirl in the canola oil and wait for it to shimmer. Now it’s pork-searing time. Be sure to hit all sides of the pork, aiming for a rich golden color—roughly 3-4 minutes per side. “The act of searing something before you braise it helps seal the outside and locks the moisture in the product instead of it all leaking out,” Jessie explains.
After searing, momentarily remove the meat and set it aside. Admire the fond stuck to the bottom of the pot. “That’s good stuff,” Jessie says. “We don’t want of take any of that out.”
Drop in all your veggies and, stirring often, cook them for about 3 minutes. Add your tomato paste, making sure it coats the veggies. Cook for another 2 minutes until the paste imparts a deep, caramelized color.
At last, we’ll unleash all this pent-up flavor by deglazing the pot. Pour in your stock, then flex your forearm strength: stir and scrape until everything’s off the surfaces of the pot.
Bring back the meat, submerging it in the liquid. Top it off with an entire bottle of Oktoberfest, and drop in your thyme and bay leaves.
Bring the pot to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 3-4 hours. Check in along the way to ensure the simmer hangs steady—avoid boiling!
And if stovetop space is in high demand, you can braise in the oven if you have an oven-safe lid. Cook for about 4 hours between 300°-325°, checking the pot periodically to maintain the simmer sweet spot.
You know the pork’s done when you can easily pull it apart with a fork or tongs. Once you’re there, remove the braised pork shoulder, shred it up and drizzle some of the leftover liquid on top.
CABBAGE & APPLE SAUTÉ
1 head savoy cabbage: Jessie chose this variety because it’s softer than other cabbage counterparts and cooks faster.
1/2 stick (2 ounces) butter
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 green apples, chunked: Use a corer if you have one, or cut the apples into quarters then slice out the core.
1 tablespoon Sierra Nevada Stout mustard: If ours isn’t on your shelves, we suggest stone-ground mustard to get some texture and deep flavor.
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Jessie smirks as she adds the block of butter.
“Gotta make it right, you know what I mean?” she says.
First, add the onions and cook for 1 minute. Follow with the apples and cook for 1 additional minute.
Next, stir in the the garlic and mustard until combined, about 1 minute.
Now you’re ready for the cabbage. Once it’s in the pan, season the cabbage with salt and black pepper. Cook another 8-10 minutes, aiming for tender cabbage that still has some crunch.
Lastly, stir in your apple cider vinegar and cook 1 final minute.
Your friends are salivating, and it’s time to eat. Fill a wide, shallow dish with the sauté—a bright, shimmering base—then build a mountain of hearty pork. Grab the tongs and keep the party going.