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5 winter recipes from Boston-area chefs

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

Boston Globe, Nov. 20, 2021


Braised pork shoulder with creamy polenta and butternut squash caponata, Chef Sam Curtis


This sure-to-impress dish highlights seasonal ingredients like root vegetables and cranberries, while the savory, tender pork shoulder is the star of the show.


Braised pork shoulder


1 Boston-style pork butt


1 cup sugar


1 tablespoon salt


1 tablespoon cinnamon


1 teaspoon nutmeg


1 tablespoon pickling spice


1 onion


1 carrot


1 bulb fennel


1 bottle of Peroni or other pale lager beer


1 bottle of Coca Cola


1 tablespoon tomato paste


Slice pork into chunks, about 3-by3 inches. Mix dry ingredients and rub pork, allowing at least 10 minutes for the meat to absorb the sugar. In a hot pan or on any grill, mark the outside of the pork, until no pink is visible.


Transfer the pork into a deep pan or crockpot. Add all veggies and liquid ingredients and bring to a boil. Place pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 3-4 hours or in the crockpot at medium-low for the same amount of time. Remove from heat when pork is fall-apart tender, without breaking too many pieces off the meat. Set aside at room temp.


Butternut squash caponata


1 butternut squash fully cleaned and cubed


1 onion julienned


1 bulb of fennel julienned


1/2 cup sugar


1 teaspoon crushed red pepper


1/2 cup red wine vinegar


1 cup fresh cranberries


1 cup Craisins


1/2 small can tomato paste


1 cup white wine


1 cup water


Clean and cut all veggies. Roast butternut squash at 405F for 20 minutes, or until tender. Set aside at room temp. In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of EVOO, then add onions, carrots, and fennel, cooking until tender at medium-low heat. Add sugar and red pepper, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add cranberries and craisins, white wine, tomato paste, and water. When these ingredients have made a loose sauce, add roasted butternut squash, stir until fully combined.

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Creamy polenta


1 1/2 cups water


1 1/2 cups milk


1 cup polenta


1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan


3 tablespoons butter


3 teaspoons kosher salt


Bring liquid to a low boil. Stir in polenta and whisk until the mixture begins to boil. Stir in butter and cheese.


To plate: in a large bowl or serving dish, make a bed of polenta. Reheat caponata in a pan with a little water so that it won’t burn, adding a little chopped parsley or shredded Kale for that beautiful emerald green contrast. Spoon the caponata on top of the polenta. Reheat pork shoulder in a hot pan with olive oil for 7-8 minutes in a 400F oven. Place pork on top of polenta and caponata, then cover liberally in braising liquid, Maldon salt, and lemon juice.

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