Spicy Braised Pork
Maiale All'Arrabbiata

serves: 6

Like Antico peposo, this is a rugged, spicy Maremma-style meat stew-chunks of pork marinated in wine, then browned and braised with ground fennel, peperoncino and black olives. Traditionally secondary cuts of pork were used for this dish but if you prefer pork chops can be substituted for the pork shoulder. Just keep in mind not to overcook them-use less stock and cook for a shorter time. Serve with braised Swiss chard and beans, or polenta.

2½ pounds boneless pork butt, (or shoulder roast)

For Marinating the Meat
1 tablespoon Coarse sea salt, or kosher salt
2 cups red wine, or as needed

For Cooking the Meat
1 teaspoon Coarse sea salt, or kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ teaspoon peperoncino, or more to taste
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, finely ground
2 cups light chicken or vegetable stock, very hot, plus more if needed
½ cup oil-cured black olives, pitted


Trim the pork roast of fat and gristle and cut it into 1- 1/2 inch cubes. Put the meat chunks in a bowl, toss with the tablespoon of coarse salt and pour in enough wine to cover. Let the meat marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight, refrigerated.

Drain the pork chunks and pat them dry on paper towels; season them all over with 1 teaspoon salt. Film the pan with the olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Scatter the pork pieces and let them brown for a couple of minutes, without moving, then turn them to caramelize another side. Now drop the garlic cloves into hot spots in the pan; sprinkle the peperoncino and ground fennel over all the chunks. Keep turning the chunks (and the garlic) so the spices toast and coat the meat as it browns.

When the meat is nicely colored and crusted on all sides, about 6 minutes, pour a cup or so of hot stock into the pan, to a depth of at least 1/4-inch. Bring it to a boil, scraping and deglazing the pan bottom, then cover the pan and adjust the heat to keep the liquid simmering steadily.

Cook the pork covered for about an hour, turning the chunks in the sauce and stirring things around every 15 or 20 minutes. Add hot stock as needed to keep the liquid level up. After 45 minutes, scatter the olives and stir them into the sauce (with more stock if necessary). Cook meat and olives together for about 15 minutes, covered, until the pork chunks are tender all the way through-they'll be firm but readily pierced with a fork.

If you are going to serve the stew right away, uncover the pan and cook it for a few more minutes over medium heat, until the sauce thickens and coats the pork chunks, with no soupiness in the pan. Serve hot.

To serve the maiale arrabbiata later, remove the pan from the heat while the sauce is still loose and let the meat cool in it. The sauce will thicken on standing: if necessary loosen it with a bit of stock or water when reheating. Store up to 2 days refrigerated; freeze for longer keeping.