Vietnamese Clay Pot Pork

If I close my eyes, I think I am in a notable Vietnamese restaurant. Yup, it's that good. Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine.

1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth or water
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce, preferably Vietnamese
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly slice 3 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally, white and green
1 lb. trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tea. finely ground black pepper

Cook sugar in a dry 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, without stirring, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar has melted into a deep golden caramel. Carefully add stock and fish sauce (caramel will harden and steam vigorously) and cook, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Add shallots, garlic, and white part of scallions and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes.

Toss pork with pepper in a bowl and stir into sauce. Bring to a simmer, then cover pan, reduce heat to low, and braise pork, stirring once or twice, until very tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Stir in scallion greens, serve over cooked rice of your choice.

Replace 1/3 of pork with diced bacon, cooked but not crispy

Chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
Fresh chopped cilantro
Fresh lime zest
Fresh lime juice
Toasted sesame seeds

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