Slow Roast Pork
The shoulder is a hard-working part of the pig, but it becomes a delectable and juicy cut with generous time and a slow oven. After several hours of cooking it should be so tender you can cut and serve it with a spoon. Ask the butcher to score the skin for you, or do it yourself with a very sharp knife, taking care not to cut into the flesh beneath the layer of fat.
This dish goes very well with the spiced pickled quinces on page 254 of Gather Cook Feast and the salt-baked vegetables on page 187, or a rough mash of turnips with swede and some moist, buttered greens.
|3||dried bay leaves, torn into pieces|
|2 tsp||fennel seeds|
|1 tsp||black peppercorns|
|3 tsp||coarse salt|
|finely grated zest of 1 lemon|
|1.5kg||piece of pork shoulder (off the bone, skin scored for crackling)|
|2||carrots, peeled and roughly chopped|
|2||onions, peeled and roughly chopped|
|2||sticks of celery, roughly chopped|
|cloves from 1 head of garlic, peeled and left whole|
First make the spice rub. Grind the bay leaves, fennel, peppercorns and salt with a mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Mix in the lemon zest. Then rub the mixture over the pork, being sure to get it inside the scored skin. Set the pork aside for an hour to come to room temperature and take on the flavours of the rub.
Heat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/gas 9.
Mix the carrots, onions, celery and garlic and spread over the base of a medium roasting tin. Place the pork on top, skin side up. Pour around the wine and stock and cover with a large tent of foil. Make sure the foil doesn’t touch the pork, and seal it really well around the rim.
Roast until the liquid starts to steam and show signs of simmering, around 30–45 minutes (check by lifting up a corner of the foil and taking a peek). Reduce the temperature to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5 and continue roasting, with the foil still in place, until the meat is meltingly tender. This will take 2–2 and a half hours – maybe even 3.
Remove the pork to a board and pour all the juices and vegetables into a big sieve set over a pan or bowl. Squish the soft vegetables against the sieve to encourage as much juice and vegetable pulp through as possible until nothing more will come out, then discard the pulp.
Heat the grill and position a rack below to accommodate the pork around 8cm below the element. Return the pork to the roasting tin and pour the sauce around the meat. Grill until the skin has crackled to your liking. Keep an eye on it, as a fierce grill can burn it easily. While the skin is crackling the sauce should be bubbling and reducing slightly.
If you don’t have a grill (as I don’t in my Aga), you can opt to cut off the crackling and put it back into a very hot oven to crisp up. In this case reduce the sauce in a small pan. Wrap the joint well in foil and keep covered with a blanket to keep warm. Some juices will have seeped out of the joint while resting, so pour them back into the sauce – so as not to waste the flavour.
Use a knife to cut away and divide the crackling, then chop the pork up roughly and serve with pickled quince, mash and greens, making sure everyone gets plenty of sauce.