Pork shoul­der: big on flavour, short on labour

This hunk of meat needs low and slow cook­ing to go from tough to ten­der

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - KATIE WORK­MAN

I was talk­ing with a friend about per­fect meals for en­ter­tain­ing, and we went through the usual sus­pects: lasag­nas, chili, ten­der­loins.

And then he men­tioned that his favourite go-to en­ter­tain­ing dish was a pork butt or shoul­der left in a low oven for so long that it prac­ti­cally fell apart. A cut of meat so flex­i­ble that the cook­ing time could be stretched by an hour, or three, and the roast wouldn’t be any worse for the wear.

A roast that could be plunked on the ta­ble when­ever every­one was ready to eat.

Long ago, a chef had ex­plained to him that meat likes to be cooked at around the tem­per­a­ture it reaches when it is done. While I don’t think that is al­ways the case (flame-kissed steaks and burg­ers any­one?), it made nice sense when I thought in terms of a big, tough hunk of meat, like this pork shoul­der, which needs low and slow cook­ing to make it turn from im­pos­si­bly tough to ten­der.

Rush­ing the process won’t help; you’ve got to keep the heat low and the time long. The best part? This is free time you can spend read­ing, danc­ing, sleep­ing, clean­ing a closet, sav­ing kit­tens from trees.

You can leave the roast in the very low oven for an ex­tra one to three hours with no reper­cus­sions. If you feel it needs a bit more brown­ing or carameliza­tion at the end, turn the heat up to 450 F for 15 min­utes be­fore pulling the roast out of the oven, and then make sure it rests for a bit so the fi­bres can re­lax and the juices re­group.

If all has gone as planned, the meat will be so ten­der that the slices won’t hold to­gether. That’s part of the ap­peal.

You might serve this with some green beans, roasted pota­toes and a salad. Leftovers make amaz­ing que­sadil­las, bur­ri­tos, soups, stews, sand­wiches and so on.

Fall-apart Roasted Pork Shoul­der with Rose­mary, Mus­tard and Gar­lic

MAKES 10 TO 12 SERV­INGS 2 ta­ble­spoons chopped gar­lic 3 an­chovies, rinsed 2 tbsp chopped fresh rose­mary 2 tea­spoons kosher salt 1 tsp freshly ground pep­per ¼ cup olive oil 2 tbsp coarse Di­jon mus­tard 1 6-pound bone­less pork shoul­der, trimmed of ex­cess fat and tied

Start to fin­ish: 8 hours (mostly hands off )

In a small food pro­ces­sor com­bine the gar­lic, an­chovies, rose­mary, salt and pep­per. Add the olive oil and process un­til it forms a paste, scrap­ing down the sides. (If you don’t have a mini food pro­ces­sor, just mince the in­gre­di­ents and then trans­fer them to a bowl. Use a fork to mash them into the olive oil.) Re­move the blade and use a fork or spoon to stir in the mus­tard. Rub the paste all over the pork shoul­der, loosely cover it with plas­tic wrap, and re­frig­er­ate from two to 24 hours.

Bring the pork to room tem­per­a­ture, which will take about 45 min­utes to one hour, and to­ward the end pre­heat the oven to 450 F. Place the pork in a shal­low roast­ing pan and roast, fat side down, for 30 min­utes, un­til the top starts to brown. Turn the heat down to 250 F and con­tinue to cook for six to eight hours, un­til the mid­dle of the roast reg­is­ters 180 F on an in­ter­nal ther­mome­ter, and as you slide the ther­mome­ter in you can feel that the meat is very ten­der through­out. About half an hour be­fore you are ready to call it done, pour off most of the juices from the pan into a heat­proof con­tainer, like a Pyrex mea­sur­ing cup. Place this in the fridge, where the fat will rise to the top.

When the meat is cooked, if you think that the out­side of the roast could use a bit more crust/brown­ness, turn the heat back up to 450 F and let it cook for an­other 15 to 20 min­utes, to give the out­side a crunchier tex­ture.

Re­move from the oven and let sit for about 20 min­utes, es­pe­cially if you have raised the heat at the end. Spoon the fat off the re­served juices in the fridge and pour the cook­ing juices into a serv­ing pitcher or bowl (warm it in the mi­crowave or in a small pot if you like). Slice the pork as thinly or thickly as you like, know­ing the meat will fall apart at least slightly. Sprin­kle a bit of salt on the sliced meat be­fore serv­ing, and pass the pan juices on the side to driz­zle.

Per serv­ing: 341 calo­ries (113 from fat); 13 grams fat (3 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 137 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 539 mg sodium; 1 g car­bo­hy­drate; 0 g fi­bre; 0 g sugar; 51 g pro­tein.


Rush­ing the process won’t help; you’ve got to keep the heat low and the time long.

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