Miso is a staple in many California households, which makes perfect sense, since it can be made into a simple soup or used to punch up any number of meat dishes. It is Japanese in origin, so it's usually used in Asian dishes, but Terry Boyd of Blue Kitchen used it to great effect in a dinner that looks straight out of the south of France.
Pork, root vegetables, egg noodles. You thought it couldn't get more delicious, but try adding miso. Enjoy!
Miso Braised Pork Shoulder
Serves 4 generously (with possible leftovers)
2-1/2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into large chunks
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup rice wine (mirin) or dry white wine
1 cup water, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons miso paste, preferably red
2 tablespoons soy sauce
noodles or rice
sliced scallions, for garnish (Slice green tops of 1 or 2 scallions into 2-inch pieces very thinly lengthwise and put them in an ice water bath for at least 20 minutes. This will cause them to curl and look pretty cool as a garnish. If that seems like a lot of work, just slice scallions thinly crosswise and use as a garnish.)
Special equipment: piece of parchment paper trimmed to just fit inside Dutch oven
Preheat oven to 325ºF with rack positioned in lower third of oven. Season pork shoulder chunks generously with black pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high flame in a large nonstick skillet. Working in batches, brown pork on all sides, adding more oil to the pan if needed. As pork is browned, transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, heat 2 more tablespoons of oil over medium flame in a Dutch oven. Add onion and carrots and sweat vegetables about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning of onions (reduce heat if necessary). Add garlic and ginger to pot and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Add half the wine and half the water to the pot along with the miso paste and soy sauce and stir to combine, breaking up the miso paste with the back of a wooden spoon.
When all the pork has been browned, reduce heat to medium and deglaze pan with remaining wine and water. Pour liquid into Dutch oven and add pork and any accumulated juices. Stir to combine. Liquid should nearly cover pork. If not, add a little water. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Carefully press parchment paper down onto meat mixture in Dutch oven.
Cover pot with lid and transfer to oven. Braise for 1 hour. Remove from oven, check to see if you need to add a little more water (be judicious here). Give it a good stir, return to oven and braise until meat is completely fork tender, about another 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile cook rice or noodles, depending on your choice. Time it to finish when pork is done.
If the remaining liquid is fairly watery, transfer pork and carrots to a large bowl with a slotted spoon and tent with foil. Bring sauce in Dutch oven to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly thickened and reduced, about 5 minutes. Don't overdo this, though--concentrating it too much will make it overly salty. If the broth/sauce is to your liking, proceed to the next step, using a slotted spoon to plate the meat and carrots and ladling the sauce separately.
Spoon noodles or rice into individual shallow bowls. Top with meat and carrots and ladle sauce over it. Garnish with scallions and serve.
Terry Boyd is the author and photographer of Blue Kitchen, his Chicago-based blog for home cooks. He's a frequent contributor to the Christian Science Monitor and the Chicago Sun-Times. His recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.