Wine and food pairings: One pork shoulder, five dinners, five wines

wine and food pairingsSo many of you appreciated the first five dinners, five wines post, featuring a whole chicken, that it’s back again — one pork shoulder that turned into five dinners with five wines to show just how simple wine and food pairings should be. Because, as I wrote the first time, “Wine drinkers can get so hung up on wine and food pairings that it’s almost paralytic. … Which, of course, defeats the purpose of enjoying wine.”

This time, I “roasted” a bone-in, 9-pound pork shoulder in the slow cooker, turning the cooked pork into five dinners (and freezing the remaining 4 1/2 pounds for another day). I paired each dinner with a cheap wine, not going to much more trouble with the pairing than saying, “Hmmm, what will go with this?” and then picking a wine I liked. Which is, of course, the best way to enjoy wine.

The dinners and pairings are after the jump (and forgive me because there aren’t any pictures of the dinners — food art is not what I do best).

Roasted pork shoulder and polenta: My goal was to come as close as possible to roasted pork shoulder using the slow cooker. That meant browning the meat beforehand and forgoing any sweeteners or liquids with the meat in the cooker; instead, I seasoned the meat with a spice rub, chopped vegetables and the deglazed pan drippings. The result was roasted pork flavor without any of the mess, and a bonus gravy made from the accumulated liquid and the vegetables blended together. The wine was the new vintage of the McPherson Cellars Tre Colore ($11, purchased, 13.9%), a Texas red Rhone blend that stuns me every year with its value and quality. It was a natural with the pork, with lots of berry fruit, soft tannins, and fresh acidity.

• Pulled pork sandwiches: My mom gave me the first cookbook I ever owned, “The Campus Survival Cookbook,” and I still have it. One of the recipes uses leftover roast beef to make barbecue sandwiches, which I adapted here. I sautéed sliced onions and peppers, mixed in a little ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce, and then added the pork I had pulled from the roast. The wine was the Candoni Buongiorno ($12, sample, 13.5%), an Italian red blend made with organic grapes that I didn’t expect much from. Which is why the first rule of wine writing is to reserve judgment until you taste the wine. The Buongiorno, from Puglia in the bootheel, tastes like it’s supposed to, with some earthiness and plum fruit, but was soft enough for the pork and its sweetish, mustardy sauce. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2017 $10 Hall of Fame since it’s available for $10 at many retailers.

• Pork taco salad: Taco salad, with meat, lettuce, guacamole, jalapenos, cheese, beans, and who knows what else layered inside a gigantic fried tortilla, is a Tex-Mex restaurant staple. I did the same thing, using pork instead of ground beef and baking the shell instead of frying it (the less said about my deep frying abilities, the better). And what better wine than a rose — the Pins du Pyla ($10, purchased, 12.5%) from Bordeaux? From my notes: “Well-made, cranberry, cheap. What else do you need to know?” 

Barley mushroom soup: I used the pork shoulder bone here, and the soup was thick, rich, and almost meaty without using any meat. When I bought the mushrooms, I picked up a bottle of Vina Fuerte ($5, purchased, 13%), the Spanish tempranillo from Aldi. The pairing showed just how versatile tempranillo is, and that you don’t have to spend much for a successful pairing.

Pork muffaletta: The first time I had a muffaletta, I didn’t understand it. Fortunately, I figured it out, and this classic New Orleans sandwich that’s sort of a poor boy or hoagie can be made with almost any meat (or even roast peppers) as long as you have quality bread and top-notch olive salad. Layer the sandwich, toast in the oven long enough to melt the cheese, and you’ll be happy. This was the sparkling dinner — the Spanish Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva ( $12, purchased, 12%), a step up from their $10 Hall of Fame cava. It’s more more elegant and Champagne-like, thanks to the chardonnay and a splash of pinot noir used to make it. It’s probably worth the extra couple of bucks, and the bubbles played off the oiliness of the sandwich.

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