Braised Pork Shoulder in Chianti Sauce

Italian slow cooking at its best


Tuscany presents us with a number of amazing cuisines that pair beautifully with the wines of the region. A dish that I have grown to love is braised wild boar in Chianti. However, although it has become increasingly easier to find a boar roast in the United States, it is still far from simple. The easy alternative is a pork shoulder roast.

This is an absolutely amazing dish that will thrill your guests. The sauce balances richness with complex woodsy notes and vibrant acidity. It is transcendent, yet elegant and light on its feet. It’s one of those sauces that you feel could be poured over anything and never get boring. The pork is succulent, falls apart on the fork and nearly melts in your mouth.
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Prepare the ingredients
Sear the meat
Add braising liquids
Sauté vegetables
Braising wines to consider
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The well-seared crust lends complexities to the velvety meat and reminds me of warm family togetherness around a Sunday table. Serve it on its own, over egg pasta or a loose polenta, and you have a dish that speaks just as much to fine dining as it does to comfort food.

When pairing wines with this dish, the logical way to go is to look to the region that it originates from, Tuscany, and the main ingredient of the sauce, Sangiovese. You can go in many directions here, but there are a few things I suggest keeping in mind. First, look for a more traditional style of Sangiovese, one without Merlot or Cabernet and not with a lot of new oak showing. Second, the wine needs a good balance of acidity to contrast the structure of the sauce. You don’t want richness in the wine; instead you want vibrancy, something that most Italian Sangiovese has in spades. I’ve paired everything from Brunello di Montalcino to Super Tuscans with this dish, but the easiest answer is right in front of us… Chianti Classico. Below are two bottles that I would highly recommend and they won’t break the bank.

2007 Fontodi Chianti Classico
- The 2007 Fontodi Chianti Classico showed woodland aromatics with undergrowth and hint of evergreen ushering in its red fruits. On the palate, it showed its grace through light, yet well-focused red fruit with hints of tobacco and a bit of drying tannin going into the medium finish.  This wine worked well against the richness of the sauce and the nose was a perfect complement.

2006 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva - This bottle was decanted for three hours before tasting. The color was a dark ruby red with aromas of ripe strawberry and raspberries with cedar box, musk and undergrowth. It had a full body that carried gracefully across the palate. At first, the wine was rich with cherry, then the acid kicked in with sour berries, rosemary and minerals. It was juicy right down to the long red berry finish where I also found fine tannins. This wine was softer than the Fontodi, but was ultimately my favorite as it seemed to be a match made in heaven against the flavors and smells of the braised pork shoulder.

Continue on to page 2 for the recipe

Meet Chef Eric Guido
After working in the New York City restaurant scene, Eric Guido branched out, organizing private dining and tasting events centered around Italian cuisine and wine. Here he began to incorporate food photography and recipe development.  His continuing work can be seen at Eric’s passion for food and wine is fueled by the togetherness and satisfaction found at the table.

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  • Snooth User: erock517
    678903 3

    I made this today and it was very, VERY good. One of the best dishes I've made in the past six months.

    I didn't have any Chianti so I used a bottle of Pepperwood Cab, a grocery store vino for about $7.00. I get the Italian vibe but if you have a decent bottle of dry red around just use that. If you don't have/can't find Panchetta, use a non-smoked bacon and you're good to go. I'll use the l/o Panchetta for a salad topping - no need to toss that good stuff.
    Since my wife is not a big pork fan, I also used a small tri-tip roast in addition to the pork shoulder. The beef was good, the pork was ridiculous - fall off the bone, moist and full of flavor. The cloves were a subtle but critical ingredient of the dish - DO NOT leave them out.
    Served with Polenta, green beans with shallots and shaved, aged Parm. HIGHLY recommend this dish. Is now on the rotation for our next dinner party.

    Apr 03, 2011 at 1:08 AM

  • So, the pancetta is just used to flavor the veggie mixture ...nothing else ?? No mention of it later in the recipe.

    Apr 03, 2011 at 6:45 PM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 196,613

    @erock517 - thanks, I'm glad you liked it. I make this often and it's a huge crowd pleaser. Did you have any of the sauce left over? I can't tell you how much people flip over it when ladled over pasta.

    As for the pancetta question. You are looking to render the fat from the pancetta and add that flavor to the sauté of vegetables. Could you add it back? Sure, but most of the flavors from these have been pulled out (unless you plan to eat them straight) but remember that all the ingredients in the braise are strained out. You could use it as a garnish if you really cooked them to crispiness and wanted to pour the sauce over pasta.

    Apr 03, 2011 at 10:05 PM

  • Snooth User: erock517
    678903 3

    @EricG - very little l/o sauce - it was just soooo good. Also - I made the dish in a LeCrouset Dutch oven as I didn't have a big enough roasting pan. It worked to perfection. I usually take some healthy creative liberties when making a recipe - this was not one of them. Perfect (really) as is. The one item I almost substituted was bacon for the Panchetta . . . and I'm glad I went out and got some. Bacon and the smoke notes would not be right for this dish. One last point - the cloves were sublime. Maybe the MVP of the dish.

    Apr 04, 2011 at 10:50 AM

  • I'm going to make this tonight. What did you guys serve with it? I'm thinking braised kale and garlic mashed potatoes.

    Apr 09, 2011 at 12:38 PM

  • Snooth User: kasia5791
    298122 2

    I made this dish and it was just amazing. Pork was very, very tender, just melted in your mouth. I didn't want to spend a whole hour standing over the sauce so I thickened it with a bit with flour, and it was delicious. Also made this in a dutch oven - seems like that made the meet even more tender. I served this with crispy fried potatoes but next time will go for mashed potatoes (I think that's better with the sauce). My husband already requested this dish for next Sunday - a keeper for sure.

    Apr 12, 2011 at 9:34 AM

  • Hello Eric. I've had the Braised Pork Shoulder on my to do list since you posted it. Looks like this weekend I'll put this together. The one question I have for you is the 10 cloves; should I infer cloves of garlic, or just cloves?

    Lookin' forward to serving this with pureed carrots and spinach salad.

    Apr 12, 2011 at 3:07 PM

  • I used cloves and it had a wonderful, but not overpowering flavor.

    Apr 12, 2011 at 3:13 PM

  • Snooth User: kasia5791
    298122 2

    Cardiackid - it's not cloves of garlic, just cloves

    Apr 13, 2011 at 9:29 AM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 196,613

    Thanks everyone, I'm glad you've enjoyed the recipe. Has anyone reserved some sauce for later use on pasta yet? You can even pull some of the pork and make it into a ragu.

    Apr 16, 2011 at 8:50 AM

  • I didn't have enough sauce for that. I also made garlic mashed potatoes and the sauce was wonderful on those. There were leftovers and the sauce got used up the next day with them. I'm sure it would have been awesome on pasta.

    Apr 16, 2011 at 10:04 AM

  • I don't know if it was a mistake to use a pork tenderloin instead ( I wanted to use it up), but it was pretty tasty. My husband loved the sauce, and my son liked the leftover ragu and shredded pork over egg noodles better than the first dish!

    Apr 19, 2011 at 1:21 AM

  • hmm my post didn't show up. I'll try again. Would it be possible to half this recipe? My husband and I probably can't handle a 6-8 lb pork shoulder, so could we do 3-4? have any tips on how to do that? Additionally what about a pulled pork sandwhich from the leftovers? Any ideas what would be good with that?

    Apr 20, 2011 at 4:21 AM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 196,613

    You can certainly half the recipe. All you really need is a smaller cooking vessel and cut everything in half.

    When you ask what would be good with the pulled pork, I'm just not clear what you're asking exactly. Do you mean as a side to it? I would just reduce the sauce more and use it as a topping.

    Apr 22, 2011 at 10:21 PM

  • Great Recipe!!! I cooked it for a long Autumnal outdoor lunch for 10 , I served it sliced into 100/150 gram portions sitting in the warm Chianti sauce with oven roasted; Kumera =NZ sweet potatoes, Potatoes, Carrots, Zucchini, Onions, Fennel = par-boiled in water with Pernod Pastis for 10 minutes before roasting, Bell Peppers= Capsicums and whole cloves of garlic. Two of the guest were vegetarian so I also served a Spanish garlic/bread sauce, a Syrian Red Bell Pepper / walnut sauce and a Morrocan Tomato /Saffron Jam. The meat eaters had some of the vegetarian sauces after they had eaten all of the Chianti sauce. We Served a New Zealand Pinot Gris and a New Zealand Pinot Noir. Barry Denton Auckland New Zealand

    Apr 26, 2011 at 5:26 AM

  • This sounds like an amazing recipe but I'll confess that I'm not a big fan of pork shoulder. Eric or someone else, would you recommend a less fatty cut of meat?

    Thanks very much. I love the comments and the recipe!

    Apr 27, 2011 at 10:11 PM

  • Is this recipe meant for 4 people? Any adjustments for a larger piece or meat?

    May 13, 2011 at 5:37 PM

  • Snooth User: kenafein
    843446 2

    Someone turned my oven off during the cook, had to restart. Think i went a little farther than I wanted. My sauce is brown not the gorgeous wine color yours is. It's reducing now, but any ideas?

    May 21, 2011 at 4:23 AM

  • Snooth User: kenafein
    843446 2

    Well everyone loved it. I was worried about the sauce, but after cooling it and sticking it in the fridge for the next day, it fixed it. The color was still that of a dark brown gravy and not the gorgeous red I saw in the pictures. Anyone else experience this? Would a fine straining sieve really do all that much? I only had a strainer.

    May 23, 2011 at 11:46 AM

  • Eric, I posted last April that I was going to try this dish. It was sublime. My guests thought it was a "5-Star", and I served it over creamy polenta. As for the sauce, I did try it with pasta, as well as with chicken. As you say, it's a versatile and savory sauce. I'm looking forward to serving it on Christmas day to my in-laws.

    Dec 02, 2011 at 2:04 AM

  • Snooth User: sdm1234
    996709 18

    Eric, the recipe does not mention at what temperature the oven should be set. I assume 325?

    Jan 27, 2012 at 10:14 PM

  • @sdm1234 - at the top of the recipe it ways to preheat the oven to 350.
    I can't wait to make this! I'll have to use a Le Creuset casserole for it, though, as I don't have a large enough pan.
    Eric, if I reduce the meat by half, can I use the same amount of the other ingredients so I would have leftover sauce for pasta? Or would the lack of meat juices/fat make the sauce watery/less intense?

    Jan 28, 2012 at 7:27 PM

  • @sdm1234 - The top of the recipe says to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    I can't wait to make this. Like another poster, I'll have to use a Le Creuset Dutch oven since I don't have a large enough roasting pan. I was also wondering if I halve the amount of meat, can I leave the other ingredient amounts the same so as to have leftover sauce for pasta? Or would that just make the sauce thinner for lack of meat juices/fats? Would the cloves be overwhelming?

    Jan 28, 2012 at 7:34 PM

  • Snooth User: Helen Poole
    1337036 29

    nice one..

    Aug 30, 2013 at 5:57 AM

  • Snooth User: anvilpep
    1370081 34


    Sep 24, 2013 at 12:51 AM

  • great

    Sep 27, 2013 at 1:50 AM

  • great

    Oct 06, 2013 at 11:35 PM

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