Recipe: A16 Rockridge's Braised Pork Shoulder

Authentic flavors from the southern Italian countryside inspired this dish from the new Oakland, Calif., outpost of a renowned San Francisco trattoria.

bowl of braised pork shoulder from A16 Rockridge, image

A parsley salad with lemon zest and olives adds the final touch to the braised pork shoulder.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Sun-Dried Peppers, Beans, and Gaeta Olives A16 Rockridge, Oakland, Calif.

When chef Rocky Maselli tasted pork braised in white wine on his travels through the Puglia region of Italy, it was amore at first bite. So much so that he decided to create his own version of it from memory this summer when he started work as executive chef at A16 Rockridge in Oakland, Calif. (5356 College Ave., 510-768-8003, a16rockridge.com).

The East Bay restaurant is more seafood-centric than its sister, A16 restaurant in San Francisco, but still serves up equally lusty, satisfying cuisine inspired by the namesake highway that runs from Naples in Campania to Canosa in Puglia.

At A16 Rockridge, the cooks get in a whole pig each week and do their own butchering. The shoulder is cooked gently for hours in the oven with plenty of wine and Italian peppers. Pureed beans are then stirred into the braising liquid to thicken it—for a traditional Southern Italian flavor. The popular dish, which was on the opening menu and reappears regularly, was initially made with fresh fava beans, then later in the season with cranberry beans. For ease at home, canned white beans make a fine substitute.

The flavors particularly resonate with Maselli, whose great-grandfather was from Puglia and whose parents used to own a ranch in Clovis, Calif., where they raised their own pigs. He likes to serve the pork with a simple salad of chicory, arugula, escarole, or radicchio.

“This dish has such a rich depth of flavor,” Maselli says. “It’s very soulful. It’s Italian country comfort food.”

Want to suggest a recipe that Via could track down from a restaurant in the West? Email us at viamail@viamagazine.com.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Sun-Dried Peppers, Beans, and Gaeta Olives

Serves 6
Adapted with permission from the recipe by Rocky Maselli of A16 Rockridge

For the pork:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
Salt to taste
1 yellow onion, diced
Pinch of red chile flakes
1 bay leaf
2 cups white wine
3 cups chicken stock
6 sun-dried sweet Italian peppers, Senise peppers, or ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed

For the bean puree:
1 cup canned white beans such as cannellini, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the parsley salad:
1 cup parsley leaves, packed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon lemon juice or to taste
Salt to taste
¾ cup Gaeta olives, pitted and left whole or cut in half
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

To make the pork:
1. Preheat an oven to 300° F.
2. In a heavy oven-safe saucepan or Dutch oven on high heat, warm the canola oil. Season the pork with salt, then add the pieces to the pan in one layer. (You may need to do this in batches.) Brown the pork on all sides until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the pieces to a plate.
3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, chile flakes, and bay leaf. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Adjust the seasonings. Return the browned pork to the saucepan along with the sweet Italian peppers.
4. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for about 2 ½ hours or until the meat is tender when tested with a fork.

To make the bean puree:
In a blender or food processor, puree the beans, lemon zest, salt, and olive oil until smooth

To make the parsley salad:
In a small bowl, toss together the salad ingredients.

To serve:
Remove the pork from the oven. Stir in the bean puree to thicken the braising liquid. Divide the pork and sauce among six plates or place it on one big platter to serve family-style. Top with the parsley salad and serve.

Photography by Mitch Tobias

This article was first published in October 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (17 votes)