This dish has been a signature dish for Luella since it opened. Ben has tried to pull it from the menu a few times, but each time enough customers have asked that he has had to put it back on. Like a band that has a song fly to the top of the charts but has long since written new material, sometimes chefs can’t escape certain dishes.
- Yield: 12 Servings, with leftovers
- 8 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Oil, for searing
- 2 liters regular Coca-Cola
- 1 gallon low-sodium chicken stock or broth
- 3 cups dried cannellini beans (about 1½ pounds)
- Olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- White pepper, to taste
- 1 large red onion (about 12 ounces), sliced lengthwise about 1⁄4” thick
- 1½ cups red wine vinegar
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 cup julienned mint leaves, to complete
- Season the pork with salt and pepper. Drizzle oil onto the bottom of a deep pan to barely cover; then set the pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat and sear on all sides until golden brown, just a few minutes per side. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Pour the Coca-Cola into the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, scraping up any stuck bits of meat from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 25 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil again, and cook until liquid reduces by about a quarter, about 10 minutes. Carefully place the meat into the liquid, cover, and bake for about 2 hours, or until the meat falls apart easily. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest, still covered and in its liquid, for at least 1 hour. If making ahead of time, cool and refrigerate overnight.
- To finish the meat, remove from the liquid (save the liquid in the pot), and remove and discard any visible fat that settles on the top. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bring the pot of liquid to a boil on the stove; then return the meat to the pot. Bake, uncovered, until the meat is warmed through, about 1 hour. Remove the meat from the pan and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the sauce (braising liquid) to a hard simmer and cook until it reduces to a light syrup (slightly thinner than maple syrup), approximately 10 to 15 minutes. For White Bean Purée
- Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain; then place the beans in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, add a splash of olive oil, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until very soft, about 1 hour, adding more warm water as needed. Drain the beans, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and purée in a food processor until smooth, adding enough olive oil (and some of the cooking liquid) until the beans have a mashed potato–like consistency; season with salt and white pepper to taste. Set aside. (The purée can be made up to a day ahead. Before serving, rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. If made ahead and refrigerated, you may need to adjust the consistency with a little more oil.) For Pickled Red Onions
- Combine the onions, vinegar, and sugar in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Adjust flavor with more vinegar or sugar as desired; then refrigerate until chilled. (The onions can be made up to a week ahead.) To Complete
- Spoon warm White Bean Purée onto a plate; top with Pork and drizzle with sauce. Drain the Pickled Red Onions and combine with mint; use to garnish the Pork. Serve immediately.