Red braised pork shoulder

Yield: 10 servings

Measure Ingredient
Pork shoulder (5 to 7 lb), with bone and rind
Water
¾ cup Sherry (dry) or Shaoxing wine
⅓ cup Dark soy sauce
Chinese yellow rock sugar, 6 crystals (each crystal about 1 inch square)
1½ teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
6 Star anise cloves
1 Cinnamon stick (about 2 inches long)
4 smalls Chili peppers, dried (optional)
Tangerine peel, dried, 3 pieces (optional)
6 Garlic cloves (crushed)
4 slices Ginger (thick)
1 Scallion (whole), trimmed
2 Spinach bunches, washed

Put the pork in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse. Again add the pork to the pot with fresh water to cover, add the wine, and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat to medium, partially cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except the spinach), and simmer the pork for another 2½ to 3 hours. The rind and the fat should be very soft when it's done.

Remove the pork from the liquid and keep it warm. Strain the sauce into a large skillet and reduce it over high heat. This may take a while, depending on how much liquid you end up with.

Meanwhile, steam the spinach until just wilted, salt it lightly, and keep it warm. When the sauce is reduced (it should be the consistency of a thin syrup), put the pork shoulder in the center of a large platter, arrange the spinach around it, and pour the sauce over.

NOTES:

* A Chinese Method of Cooking a Pork Roast -- I got this recipe originally from the _San Francisco Chronicle_. It uses some ingredients that might be hard to get in some parts of the country, but suggests alternatives. Yield: Serves 10-15.

* Can substitute about ⅓ C granulated sugar for the rock crystals.

: Difficulty: moderate.

: Time: 30 minutes preparation, 3-4 hours cooking.

: Precision: approximate measurement OK.

: Jeff Lichtman

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