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5 winter recipes from Boston-area chefs

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

These five dishes highlight local, seasonal ingredients and classic New England cooking.

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.


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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