Braised Pork Shoulder in Chianti Sauce

Italian slow cooking at its best

Tuscany presents us with a number of amazing cuisines that pair beautifully with the wines of the region. A dish that I have grown to love is braised wild boar in Chianti. However, although it has become increasingly easier to find a boar roast in the United States, it is still far from simple. The easy alternative is a pork shoulder roast.

This is an absolutely amazing dish that will thrill your guests. The sauce balances richness with complex woodsy notes and vibrant acidity. It is transcendent, yet elegant and light on its feet. It’s one of those sauces that you feel could be poured over anything and never get boring. The pork is succulent, falls apart on the fork and nearly melts in your mouth.

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Prepare the ingredients
Sear the meat
Add braising liquids
Sauté vegetables
Braising wines to consider
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Braised Pork Shoulder in Chianti Sauce

The well-seared crust lends complexities to the velvety meat and reminds me of warm family togetherness around a Sunday table. Serve it on its own, over egg pasta or a loose polenta, and you have a dish that speaks just as much to fine dining as it does to comfort food.

When pairing wines with this dish, the logical way to go is to look to the region that it originates from, Tuscany, and the main ingredient of the sauce, Sangiovese. You can go in many directions here, but there are a few things I suggest keeping in mind. First, look for a more traditional style of Sangiovese, one without Merlot or Cabernet and not with a lot of new oak showing. Second, the wine needs a good balance of acidity to contrast the structure of the sauce. You don’t want richness in the wine; instead you want vibrancy, something that most Italian Sangiovese has in spades. I’ve paired everything from Brunello di Montalcino to Super Tuscans with this dish, but the easiest answer is right in front of us… Chianti Classico. Below are two bottles that I would highly recommend and they won’t break the bank.

2007 Fontodi Chianti Classico – The 2007 Fontodi Chianti Classico showed woodland aromatics with undergrowth and hint of evergreen ushering in its red fruits. On the palate, it showed its grace through light, yet well-focused red fruit with hints of tobacco and a bit of drying tannin going into the medium finish. This wine worked well against the richness of the sauce and the nose was a perfect complement.

2006 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva – This bottle was decanted for three hours before tasting. The color was a dark ruby red with aromas of ripe strawberry and raspberries with cedar box, musk and undergrowth. It had a full body that carried gracefully across the palate. At first, the wine was rich with cherry, then the acid kicked in with sour berries, rosemary and minerals. It was juicy right down to the long red berry finish where I also found fine tannins. This wine was softer than the Fontodi, but was ultimately my favorite as it seemed to be a match made in heaven against the flavors and smells of the braised pork shoulder.

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