Happiness, writes frequent contributor Liz Pearson, is a dinner that just about cooks itself -- and also leaves plenty of leftovers to carry you through the week. And as long as she's talking about this delicious pulled pork, who could argue?
Combine the tang of orange juice and cider vinegar with the smoky sweetness of chipotle peppers and you've got a sure winner. Best yet, after the initial searing and marinating, you can basically ignore it for a couple of hours while it happily braises to buttery shreds.
5 hours (includes 4 1/2 hours braising time)
Makes 24 sandwiches
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (5-pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 cloves garlic
4 chipotle chiles in adobo, seeded
1 large red onion, roughly chopped (2 cups)
4 dried or fresh bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
2 dozen small brioche rolls, split and toasted
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese, optional
1. Heat the oven
to 325 degrees. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Season the pork with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper, place it in the skillet and sear, turning occasionally, until deep golden brown all over, about 15 minutes total.
2. Meanwhile, put the broth,
juice, vinegar, zest, adobo sauce, cumin, garlic, chiles, onions, one-half teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper into a blender; purée until smooth.
3. Transfer the pork
to a large, deep casserole dish and set aside. Pour the excess fat out of the skillet. Carefully pour about 1 cup of the chipotle-orange purée into the skillet and cook briefly, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the contents of the skillet over the pork along with remaining chipotle-orange purée. Scatter the bay leaves and thyme in the casserole; cover tightly with foil. Top with a tight- fitting lid; bake for 2 1/2 hours.
4. Carefully uncover
the pork and flip over the roast. Baste it with the juices, then re-cover with the foil and lid and return to the oven. Continue cooking until very tender, about 2 hours more. Set aside, covered, for about 30 minutes, then uncover and pour the contents of the casserole into a colander set over a large bowl; discard bay leaves and thyme.
5. When cool enough
to handle, tear the pork into shreds, discarding any fat, and transfer to a large bowl. Skim off and discard fat from the juices, then add the juices to the shredded meat and toss well. Pile the pork onto brioche rolls and top with grated cheese, if desired.