Friday, October 22, 2010

Lidia's Pork Shoulder with Salsa Genovese~

Do you love it when your kitchen smells like sautéed onions and garlic?  Believe me, you'll get plenty of lovin' when you prepare this recipe! I should probably tell you is that this recipe is a time commitment. If you have a free Sunday at home and want to create an savory, tender, slow-roasted dish, this is it.

The recipe calls for red pepper flakes but I had just bought some Thai chili peppers at the Farmers' Market last weekend and decided to use one these instead.

I pulled out my large Le Creuset roaster because it is wonderful for slow roasting but any dutch oven with a lid will work. It is also big enough to hold the 3-1/2 pounds (yes, pounds) of onions for the recipe. This was merely half the amount of that the original recipe calls for.

The end result was pork that was pull-apart tender with a wonderful onion salsa that was perfect for serving over pasta. One night, we had the pork on crusty rolls, but we enjoyed it the best as a meaty sauce with pasta.

Lidia's Pork Shoulder with Salsa Genovese

Adapted from "Pork Shoulder with Onions - Salsa Genovese"  by Lidia Bastianich.
This recipe was original found on Lidia's Italy but has been removed from the website.
Printable Recipe

Note: I adapted this recipe to one-half of the original. My husband and I enjoyed it for 3 days so I would say it serves 4 to 6 people. Don't be afraid of all of the onions and garlic in this recipe. After braising for 3 hours, it will meld into a mildly delicious sauce.

For the pestata (a paste, in English) you will need:

2 ounces bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup whole peeled garlic cloves
3-1/2 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast, bone-in
1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt or kosher crystal salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino ( hot red pepper flakes), or a very small chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 small carrot, peeled and finely shredded or chopped
1 stalk celery, finely shredded or chopped
3-1/2 pounds onions, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 cups, or more or less, hot turkey broth (I used chicken stock), heated before adding

Making the pestata and starting the braise:

Using a food processor with the metal blade, mince the bacon and garlic cloves together into a paste. Remove the paste and set aside. Use the food processor to chop the carrot, celery and onion. You don't need to wash the bowl since everything will be cooked together. Process each vegetable individual, cutting the carrot and celery stalk into chunks before chopping. You will want a small to medium dice. Cut the onions into 1-inch pieces and pulse into a coarse chop, 1/4-inch or so. Put the onions into a big bowl—you will have about 2 quarts of chopped onion.

Pat the pork dry with paper toweling, then season all over with approximately ½ teaspoon salt and press it in. Set the braising pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil gets hot, add the pork in and brown it lightly on each side. While the meat is browning, scrape the pestata into the pan bottom; spread it out and let the bacon begin to render. Drop in peperoncino now, if you want some heat in the salsa; toast it in the pan bottom.*

After 3 minutes or so of browning the pork, drop the tomato paste into the fat; stir and caramelize a minute. Dump the shredded carrot and celery into the pan bottom; stir for a minute just to get them cooking. (Keep turning the meat so it browns evenly and slowly.)

Now scrape the chopped onions into the pan, all around the meat. Sprinkle the remaining coarse salt over the onions, raise the heat a bit, stirring the onions up from the bottom and mixing them with the oil, pestata and tomato. Cook on medium high heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes until onions are all hot and starting to sweat. Cover and turn the heat to medium-low.

*Note - I removed the pork to saute the pestata and vegetables, adding the pork back to the pan after all of the vegetables were done sauteeing.

Braising the pork:

The pork will now cook for about 3 hours. Leave it alone for the first 45 minutes, then uncover, turn the meat and stir the onions. They should be softening and releasing liquid. If there is any sign of burning, lower the heat. Cover and cook for another 45 minutes, turn the meat and stir the onions. They should be quite reduced in volume, in a thick simmering sauce. Stir in 1 cup of hot broth, bringing the liquid higher around the pork.

Cook covered for another 45 minutes, then stir. If the sauce level has dropped a lot and is beginning to stick, stir in another cup or so of broth. Taste and add more salt, if necessary.

Cover and cook another 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Check the consistency of the onions—they should be melting into the sauce and the meat should be soft when pierced with a fork. If satisfactory, remove from the heat; otherwise cook longer, adding more broth. Or, if the sauce seems thin, uncover and cook to reduce it.

Remove the bone and any excess fat from the meat and either slice or shred it (which I did).

Lidia suggests serving the this three ways:

As a first course: Remove 2 cups of the fresh onion sauce from the pot and put it in a large skillet. Cook one pound of rigatoni or other pasta, and toss it in the skillet with the simmering sauce. Finish with extra-virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano.

As a main meat course: Remove the pork from the braising pot and cut out the blade bone (just lift the cooked meat off it and remove the bone). Slice the pork against the grain in 1/3-inch-thick slices, and moisten with hot sauce from the pot.

As a meaty sauce for pasta: Traditionally the leftover meat and sauce from Sunday dinner were combined and served another day as a dressing for pasta, but you can dedicate any amount of Salsa Genovese to this marvelous mixture.


  1. I have no doubt that your home smelled fantastic! Thinking about pork for this weekend... Lovin' your little red bowl too:@)

  2. Nothing better on a fall or winter day than to have those divine fragrances wafting through the house! I am drooling just reading about it.
    Love your photos, Susan!

  3. I can imagine how sweet these onions were after all this cooking. I love onions so the amount doesn't scare me, in fact is agood reason to cook this recipe.

  4. Oh, Susan!! This looks so great. Thanks.

  5. Susan the photo of the cazuela and wine:) Trop beau!

    It reminds me of dishes in Italy w?...boar..truly.. served over pasta ..If it is so tender it must be amazing.I love days when my house smells like my home:)Onions are GOOD for us.

  6. Susan -- I love a pork roast and this sounds like an absolutely wonderful recipe. The paste sounds so yummy. Joni

  7. Oh me, oh my. Pork is a favorite in this house, and wow, anything with that amount of onions and garlic... we are going to love it! Of course your photos are amazing - they really make the dish! Thank you for sharing the recipe - it's going into my must try file.


  8. One thing, Lidia who... Bastianich?

  9. Yes, Lidia Bastianich, ButterYum. It's in the printable recipe and I will add it to the post also.

  10. I love Lidia and watch her cooking show on PBS TV. I can hear her voice talking about how the onions in this dish will "carmelize" with the slow roasting -- it is one of her favorite cooking terms :) The pork and sauce must be delicious! I like the pasta you served it with, Susan.

  11. love slow tasty dishes like this oh the bumpy one wasn't a NZ squash I just liked it, its blue and round lol

  12. Lidia's recipes are always so homey, pure comfort food! Looks fantastic, I can just smell those onions, mmmmmm!

  13. Sounds and looks delicious - love the smell of onions in the air..and they turn out so sweet after carmelizing. I can understand where you need an entire day to prep and cook but I bet it was worth it!!
    Super post!!

  14. Man, I am seriously craving a large pork roast now. Especially one as tender and flavorful as this. Just gorgeous Susan.

  15. I know the story of Lydia Matticchio Bastianich, she ran away many years ago from his city called Pula, was Italian territory, these years have been painful for those people, Yugoslavia had occupied those territories, and many Italians have left their homes and their land and went on,now is called Croatia ...She was clever, she has built an empire in America,she worked so hard,its food is tasty and easy to do...She is a strong and determined woman, I hope I explained myself well, I have to emprove my english....Thanks a lot for your comment on "Donne sul web" ! Kisses...

  16. Any slow cooked pork dish is welcome in our home. My husband is the consummate carnivore and the little piggy is his favourite friend. The recipe sounds incredible. I love the red colour theme in your pics, too. You bought a truckload of fresh Thai peppers. Were you planning on drying some, or are you just fearless with spicy food.

  17. Thank you for all of the kind comments!

    Chiara, what an interesting story about Lidia. Thank you very much for the background information. Your English is better than my Italian, which comes from Google Translator for me :).

    Valerie, no, not fearless with chili peppers, LOL. I had hoped to make a recipe for spicy pickles and bought the chilis before I found out that cucumber season was already over here! I'll probably try to dry them, instead.

  18. I saw that show where Lidia explained her roots and showed that area. Many people do not know about that part of her life.
    I do love the smell of garlic and onions simmering. Can't eat the garlic, but do love it!
    Looks like a wonderful dish, Susan.

  19. First of all, thanks so much for your sweet comment on my blog. Yours is gorgeous and I'm so glad you stopped by mine so I can now follow you. :-)

    About this recipe, I've been trying to figure out what to make all morning. Pork was on my mind and I'm a huge fan of Lidia Bastianich. I can only imagine how good this tastes. Better yet, I'll just have to try it!

    Thanks again. :-)

  20. I love homey and satisfying dishes like this.
    Have I mentioned that I have enjoyed your photography as much as your recipes before?
    I wish you a flavourful weekend!

  21. Slow roasting is one of the real treats of the colder weather. This is an interesting recipe, I'm impressed with the amount of onions it calls for!

  22. Don't you just love Lidia? And this recipe sounds yummy, I think I love a pork shoulder just about any way!

  23. As soon as I opened the post my mouth started to water. I love roasted pork, it is one of our family's favorites. This looks fantastic and of course your photos of it are stunning.

  24. Susan would you serve this to guests, I think I would...but what is your opinion?

    Thanks again,

  25. You are all so kind, thank you again!

    Sue, I would definitely serve this to good friends for a casual dinner or for a family gathering. Anything more formal than that, probably not.

  26. I bookmarked this straightaway after reading how it would make my kitchen smells like sauteed onions and garlic =) Looks amazing!

  27. Hi Susan,

    You had me at "sautéed onions and garlic"! I would gladly spend a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen preparing this delicious looking recipe. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I have it saved so I can try it very soon.

    Your photos are mouth-watering & I ♥ your little red bowls!!!

  28. i am with rettabug! I am a sucker for sauteed onions and garlic! Looks amazing!

  29. I am so happy to find your blog. I will definitely read all your posts and browse through all your stunning photos! Thanks for sharing!

  30. Wonderful Fall dish...and gorgeous photos :)

  31. this is so pretty... and i love the touch of the thai chillies in here... yum!

  32. Greetings! My first time on your blog. I think I am going to try this. Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing!
    Best regards,

  33. your food looks great i look forward to reading your blog

  34. Susan, thank you SOOOOOO much for posting this! I made it for dinner tonight and it may be the best thing I have ever eaten. Totally worth the many, many, MANY tears from the onions. LOL

  35. Thank you for letting me know, Keren! It is definitely worth the time and effort. I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed it - if not the onion tears ;)

  36. I made this pork shoulder dish by Lidia Bastianich yesterday. It was fall off the bone tender and deliscious. The sauce was also wonderful. I spiked the sauce up a bit by adding pepper paste, maggi, some Knorr dried mushroom soup ( just a teeny bit because I didn't want a mushroom onion sauce) and Knorr Homestyle beef stock. Lidia's onion sauce with tomato paste was DELISH as is, but I'm of Eastern European descent and craved flavours from my upbringing! All in all, with or without my embelishments, this dish was DELISH!!! YUMMMM!!!
    Just a little more about the cooking process. I got a 5 and 1/2 lb bone in pork shoulder, so I increased all oher ingredients proportionately, meaning I prepared 5 and 1/2 lbs of onions!!!! Now that's TONS OF ONIONS. I do believe that mabe 4 or 4 and 1/2 lbs of onions would be enough!!! My Dutch oven was large but not quite large enough for ALL THOSE ONIONS. It's imperative to have proper pots for cooking, so I'm investing in a Le Creuset Dutch oven or something similar to what Lidia used on her show to make this pork dish!
    My pork shoulder was COVERED in onions so I removed about 1 and 1/2 cups of the onions after about an hour! I wasn't sure how deeply immersed in onions the pork was supposed to be. Half way through cooking ( 5 hours!!), I transfered the roast to my Polish mom's old-fashioned black turkey roaster. It seemed better because the onion sauce went just about 1/2 way up the roastor less, instead of 3/4 plus up the roast as it was in my dutch oven. Using my Mom's roaster finally allowed the pork rind to crisp! GET A PROPER DUTCH OVEN EVERYBODY!! I've had problems with other dishes for the same reason, not having proper cooking ware! Don't be cheap either!

  37. Just a quick correction! The total cooking time for the pork roast was 5 hours. I transferred the roast to my Mom's turkey roaster at 2 and 1/2 hours.
    Just another note as well. I baked the roast in the oven at 325 F instead of cooking it on stovetop. Towards the end ( last hour) I raised the temp up to 350 F. Lovely, delsciuos pork dish' I can't wait to try it with pasta!

    1. I'm so glad you liked, it Shannon, and thank you for posting your notes! I love my Le Creuset roaster for the very reason you mentioned. I have also seen very good knock-off ceramic covered cast iron roasters at Home Goods and TJ Maxx.


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