Chef Anthony Walsh’s mother taught him how to cook pork so tender you can eat it with a spoon. Here’s his recipe
“I started cooking when I was about 14, largely because I hate doing dishes. I have four brothers and a sister, and growing up, we’d always have friends over. All we’d do is eat, eat, eat. My mother—Ann Coughlin, a good Irish girl—would cook up this amazing pork for the masses; for her, it was like water off a duck’s back. Her conviviality mixed with culinary know-how is what inspires me as a chef to this day. Cooking for someone is one of the most intimate things you can do. You have to take time to take care of your guests. At Canoe, our version of her braised pork is about as comforting as it gets. We’ll never be able to take it off the menu.”
3 to 5 lb bone-in piglet shoulder or bone-in
picnic shoulder, skin removed (we get ours
from St-Canut in Quebec)
¼ cup kosher salt
4 cups fresh apple cider
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup each diced onion, carrot and celery
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp crushed juniper berries
1 sprig each thyme and rosemary
2 bottles Steam Whistle pilsner
(1 for the cook, 1 for the pork)
½ cup grade A maple syrup
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs each thyme and rosemary
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle Steam Whistle pilsner
4 cups chicken or veal jus
1. If using a picnic shoulder, tie in several places with butcher twine to make a neat roast.
2. Dissolve salt in 1 cup cider in saucepan over medium heat. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, carrot, celery and garlic for 5 minutes until onion is soft but not brown. Add juniper berries and herbs. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
4. Add dissolved salt, remaining cider, 1 bottle of beer and maple syrup. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Strain through fine sieve. Let cool completely.
5. Put pork in large non-metallic bowl and add marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning pork occasionally if not completely submerged.
6. Remove pork and discard marinade. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.
7. Heat 2 tbsp oil in large pot over medium heat and brown pork on all sides. Remove to a plate.
8. Add remaining oil and cook onion, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary for 5 minutes until onion is soft but not brown. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
9. Add beer and bring to boil over high heat, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes until beer has reduced by about half. Add jus and pork. Bring to boil. Cover tightly and transfer to 350°F oven. Cook for 3 to 4 hours until meat is falling from bone, turning pork over after 1 ½ hours.
10. Remove pork from pot. Strain cooking juices and set aside. Pull meat apart into chunks, discarding bones and excess fat. Drizzle pork with cooking juices and serve with yellow split peas.
Makes 6 servings.
YELLOW SPLIT PEAS
2 cups yellow split peas
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 slices double-smoked bacon (rind removed), diced
1 white onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
3 cups chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
Dash white wine vinegar
1. Bring 6 cups water and split peas to boil in large pot. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 1 hour. Drain split peas and set aside. Wash and dry pot.
66 Wellington St. W., 416-364-0054
2. Melt 2 tbsp butter in pot over medium-low heat. Cook bacon for 5 minutes until it renders its fat. Increase heat to medium. Add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until onion is soft but not brown.
3. Add stock, split peas, and salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour until peas are tender and mixture is thick. Discard bay leaves and thyme. Stir in chives, vinegar and remaining butter.
4. Spoon split peas into 6 shallow bowls. Top with pork and drizzle with some of the reserved cooking juices.
Makes 6 servings