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4 Tips for Braising à la Matignon
- You can cook any number of different protein and vegetable combinations à la matignon. The technique works with any large joint of meat that has a lot of connective tissue—lamb shanks, osso buco, oxtail, or even a pot roast. Consider flavor profiles that appeal to you, and focus on ingredients that are in season.
- For Mediterranean flavors, you could use a vegetable combination of peppers, cauliflower, onions, garlic cloves, and tomatoes. Bear in mind that you want to use vegetables that exude liquid, not ones that absorb liquid (such as eggplant).
- Spices like curry can transform the flavor profile of the dish. Just make sure to preserve the ratio of liquid and vegetables for a juicy pork shoulder.
- Chef Keller draws an important distinction between a bouquet garni and a sachet. A bouquet garni is always comprised of parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. When making a bouquet garni, you might use the exterior leaves of a leek to wrap the components together. A sachet can contain any herbs you like. Chef Keller wraps his up with cheesecloth. It’s easy to remove from the food when you’re done cooking with it.
Chef Thomas Keller’s Pork Shoulder à la Matignon (Braised Pork Shoulder Recipe)
“Look at this beautiful cocotte. I just love cooking in these. There’s something that’s really basic and grounded in cooking in something like this. And the transformation of the food as it cooks is just beautiful.”
For the pork shoulder:
- 1 boneless pork shoulder
- 3 to 4 pounds Kosher salt
- Canola oil
- 500 grams (about 2) onions, cut into a 3⁄8-inch dice
- 375 grams (about 3) Granny Smith apples, cored and cut to a 3⁄8-inch dice
- 250 grams (about 1) celery root, cut to a 3⁄8-inch dice
- 500 grams dry hard cider
- 50 grams honey
- 10 to 15 grams dry kuzu root*
- 25 grams Calvados
- White wine vinegar, to taste
- Watercress, for garnish
- French grey sea salt, for finishing
For the sachet:
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick 3 star anise pods 3 cloves Cheesecloth Kitchen twine
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife Kitchen twine 7-quart cocotte Wooden spoon Cake tester Mortar & pestle Small bowl Whisk
*Ingredient notes: * If you cannot find kuzu root, you can substitute it with cornstarch. * If you prefer not to cook with alcohol, replace the dry cider with apple juice but omit the honey so that it does not become overly sweet. You can finish with an aromatic such as a sprig of tarragon or grated citrus zest instead of the Calvados. * Canola oil is a neutral oil with a higher smoke point than olive oil; read more about oil smoke points here. * If you do not have a cocotte or Dutch oven at home, substitute a cast-iron slow cooker. * Chef Keller omits black pepper since salt enhances, but pepper transforms the flavor.
Make the sachet:
- Lay the cheesecloth on the cutting board and add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, star anise pods, and cloves on top. Fold the end and roll into a sachet. Tie both ends with kitchen twine. Set aside.
For the pork shoulder:
- Remove the pork from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. Use kitchen twine to hold the pork shoulder in its natural, plump shape. Wrap twine down the middle lengthwise and tie, then across the width in the middle and twice more left of the middle and right of the middle. Season all sides of the pork with kosher salt.
- Preheat oven to 275°F. Heat a large cocotte over medium-high heat. Pour in about 1⁄4 inch of canola oil. Add the pork and sear, turning as needed, until well-browned on all sides.
- Transfer the pork to a rack over a baking sheet or roasting pan, leaving the rendered pork fat in the cocotte to cook and flavor the vegetables. Add the onions and salt them, which will draw out moisture and begin the caramelization process. Once the onions have caramelized, add the apples and celery root. Next, add the sachet and cider, reserving some for the slurry, quickly stepping away to let the steam from the cider safely escape. Finally, stir in the honey and nestle the pork shoulder into the bed of vegetables. Cover and cook for 30 seconds.
- Transfer the cocotte to the middle rack of the oven to cook for about 4 hours, checking the shoulder after 21⁄2 hours. Use a cake tester to check the resistance. When there’s little to no resistance, it’s cooked.
- Remove the cocotte from the oven and bring back to the stovetop over low heat. Remove the pork and sachet and let rest on a rack over a sheet pan. Bring the liquid remaining in the cocotte to a simmer. While it simmers, grind kuzu in a mortar and pestle. Combine kuzu and cider in a small bowl and whisk into a slurry, using enough cider that it’s runny and pourable. Stir in about a third of the slurry and add more as you continue cooking to reach your desired thickness. Taste the matignon and adjust salt and acid as needed. Add the Calvados and do a final taste for seasoning. Adjust for acidity with vinegar if needed. Simmer until the flavor is pleasantly concentrated.
- Transfer the pork shoulder to a cutting board and remove the twine to slice. Ladle some of the matignon into your serving dish and top with sliced pork shoulder.
To plate and serve as Chef Keller does, garnish with watercress and serve with a potato rösti. You’ll find the recipe for the rösti here (make sure to make the rösti while the pork is still in the oven!).
Learn more meats, stocks, and sauces cooking techniques from Chef Thomas Keller here.