Adapted from All About Braising.

  • One 4 1/2 to 5-pound boneless pork shoulder roast, preferably Boston butt
  • Coarse French salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green part only, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion (about 6 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t. ground turmeric
  • 1/4 t. cayenne
  • 1/2 t. Chef’s Special West-Egyptian Seasoning (optional)
  • 1 T. minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
  • 3 strips preserved lemon removed with a vegetable peeler (each about 3 inches by 3/4 inch)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T. Palinka apricot brandy or Cognac
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 2 c. homemade or Everyday Essentials chicken stock
  • 1 c. dried apricots (about 6 1/2 ounces)
-Heat the oven to 325 degrees
-Trim any especially thick bits of fat from the pork, but do be sure to leave some. —Roll and tie the pork (or have your butcher do it for you).
-Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper. Pour the oil into a Dutch oven that will hold the pork snugly (4 to 5 quart works well), and heat over medium heat. Sear the pork on all sides, until deeply browned but not at all burnt, 15 to 20 minutes total. Transfer the pork to a plate.
-Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat, and return the pot to medium heat. Add the leek, carrots, and onions, stir in the crushed cardamom, turmeric, and cayenne, and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables begin to soften but do not take on much color, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, orange zest, and bay leaf and cook until the spices are quite fragrant, another 2 minutes.
-Pour the brandy into the pot. Bring to a boil and boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release any caramelized bits, until reduced by about half, about 1 minute. Add the wine and let it boil for 4 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the apricots and boil for another 2 minutes.
-Place the pork on top of the vegetables and fruit. Add any accumulated juices from the plate. bring the liquid to a simmer and spoon some over the pork. Cover the meat with sheet of parchment paper, pressing down so that it almost touches the meat and the edges extend over the sides of the pot about an inch. Cover and slide the pot onto a shelf in the lower third of the oven to braise. Check that the liquid is simmering gently, every 30 minutes and give the pork a turn. If the liquid is simmering too aggressively, lower the oven heat 10 or 15 degrees. Continue to braise gently until the pork is fork-tender, about 2 hours in all.
-Remove the pork from the pot and set it on a carving board or platter to catch the juices. Cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
-Return the pot to the top of the stove and skim off as much surface fat as you can with a wide spoon. If the sauce is very thin reduce it by boiling over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. It should be the consistency of a thick vinaigrette. Taste for salt and pepper. Pour any juices that have accumulated under the pork into the sauce, and stir.
-Remove the strings from the pork, and carve into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with sauce and apricots