- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 1 Time
Can be made ahead of time.
The authentic flavor of cured smoked pork is essential to Southern cooking. This rich stock is one of the best ways to bring that rich flavor—salt, smoke, and aged meat—to everyday cooking. We use the stock for cooking greens, peas, beans, and root vegetables, as a base for soups and stews, and as an essential part of many recipes throughout this book.
Traditionally, a Southern cook would often add a piece of cured pork as “seasoning” to a pot of water and vegetables—and cook them all together for a long time. However, while the cooking water is gradually extracting seasoning flavor from the pork, it is also leaching flavor and nutrients from the vegetables. But pork stock quickly imparts its rich flavor to whatever is cooked in it, and vegetables don’t have to overcook to reach full flavor. And because pork stock can be defatted before you use it, foods never have the excessive greasiness that unfortunately is sometimes thought of as characteristic of Southern cooking.
Rinse the pork shoulder, and put it and the water into a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Cook, covered, at a full simmer for 2 hours, or until stock develops a strong smoked-pork flavor. Strain and discard the pork shoulder, because it will have rendered all of its flavor. Cool the stock completely, then refrigerate until needed. Pork stock may be kept refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for 6 months.
Once stock is well chilled, any fat that is congealed on the surface may be removed and reserved for other uses.
Smoked pork stock is the traditional cooking medium for greens—and the best—but if you don’t have time (or the right pork) to make a finished stock, here are some alternatives:
Use a small slice (about 2 ounces) of smoked, cured pork to make a quick stock: Boil the meat in 6 cups of water for ½ hour, tightly covered. Remove the meat, and season with salt and pepper,
Cut four slices of good smoked bacon into small dice, and render slowly in a pan until deeply browned. Remove the bacon bits (use for another purpose), and put the fat and 6 cups of water in a saucepan. Simmer for 15–20 minutes, then season with salt and pepper
Use Chicken Stock, vegetable stock, or lightly salted water (about 2 teaspoons salt per quart of water).
Nutritional information is based on 32 servings.