Saturday, 14 January 2012

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes - seriously slow cooked Pork shoulder

OK, it didn't take that long, that's 8 thousand, seven hundred and sixty hours (or a year for those familiar with Rent).

This is a recipe I dreamt up last weekend courtesy of a vague memory of a television programme from some years ago (something about eating British Pork). Do you ever have that? Or is it just me? You know where you wake up thinking about something and know that you 'need' to cook it just so that your internal dialogue stops prodding you and suggesting - try slow cooked shoulder of pork, try slow cooked shoulder of pork.

Truth be told I woke up last weekend in serious need of comfort food, the cold I had had over Christmas has alarmingly mutated into one of those viruses I get from time to time that fells me completely and on Saturday my need for comfort food was immediate and clear. M was working and so I spent my day indoors, pottering around the kitchen (in a vague attempt to ignore the need to hoover. I capitulated on Sunday) I believe that the slow cooked, hot food really helped although I was lost to the virus, hence the quietness on the posting front this week.

So Slow cooked shoulder of pork. I asked my butcher to score the fat as I definitely wanted crackling (diet? What diet? This virus is doing it all by itself). Normally I'd ask him for cooking tips, but the plan in my head was already fairly formed.

I started by rubbing the pork skin with salt (generously) and seasoning the meat with salt and pepper. It then went into a preheated Gas mark 7 (225 degrees ish) for about 45 minutes, after which I turned the oven down to Gas mark 3 (150 degrees ish) and covered the meat tightly with a double layer of foil. The high heat at the start was to get the crackling well and truly started, and I felt that by then covering the meat over it would prevent the juices/ fat from evaporating in the oven. I'm not very scientific I could be completely wrong.

I left the pork in the oven cooking for 4 hours, whilst I napped, tidied and generally pottered (I love days like that, it could have only been better if I'd stayed in my pyjamas. But don't tell M, I don't think he's picked up on my slattern-like tendencies yet). I think this is what makes this an ideal weekend recipe, once it's in and the oven turned down, you can just leave it be.

After 4 hours I basted the pork with the fat that had rendered out from the joint and turned the oven back up higher to cook the roast potatoes. I popped the pork back in, minus the foil, but on some veggies - celery, carrots and onions, just roughly chopped, a bulb of garlic broken down into cloves (the cast is good for something) and a couple of bay leaves. This was purely because that was what I had in the fridge, you could easily amend it to suit you. I intended to recreate my get-ahead gravy by bashing these into submission with my potato masher to make gravy, but next time I might add butternut squash and parsnips which I would take out first.

When the meat went back in, I turned the oven back up to crisp up the crackling - and as a happy accident the edges of the meat. About 15 minutes before the potatoes were done I took the meat out, wrapped the joint back up in the foil and left it to rest. I added about a pint of water to the meat tin, and as with the get ahead gravy, bashed 7 bells out of the veggies, scraping up the goodness from the bottom of the tin, until it was all combined, and then strained it through a colander into a jug. I didn't add flour this time so it was more watery gravy than the Christmas one, but I enjoyed this as it was.

I served the meat and potatoes with some steamed savoy cabbage and carrots, tart applesauce and it made a lovely, undemanding comforting dish. Just what is needed at this time of year. And cheap, as I didn't buy any veggies or anything other than the pork. The meat was so well cooked that it just fell apart and I shredded it with 2 forks (bearing in mind one of those is still encased in purple plaster) before serving. The combination of the soft yielding meat with crispy crackling, flavourful gravy, with lightly steamed veggies and crispy potatoes was just what the doctor ordered. Although not quite enough to ward off the virus it did set me up for a week in which my staple diet has been marmite toast and tea 

This would work equally well with a lamb shoulder, although I'd be inclined to make small cuts and put extra garlic and rosemary inside them.  

Penelope's Pantry patient pork
(picture free, because it was just that good, that we started picking as soon as I put it on plates)

Shoulder of pork - ask your butcher to score the skin, and to advise you on how much - I went by size which is probably of little help but it was about a six inch wide piece
Sea salt
Vegetables: I used celery, carrots and onions
Bulb of garlic
Couple of bay leaves (truly I added these because the packet keeps falling over in the cupboard and annoying me. I keep adding them to things at the mo purely for that reason)

Apple sauce, I cooked down 2 eating apples because that was what I had. Just peel, chop and cook with no sugar until they're pulpy. 
Vegetables and potatoes to serve.

Make sure your fat is scored and rub in salt
Cook in a preheated (225 degrees) oven for an hour
Turn the heat down (150 degrees) and cover the meat in foil tightly
Put back in the oven for 4 hours
Baste the pork with the fat from the tin
Remove from oven, put veggies, garlic and bay leaves on the bottom of your roasting tin and put the pork back on top
After an hour (or so, I went by eye) remove the pork, wrap tightly in the foil and add water to your baking tray. Put it on the heat and bash the veggies, garlic et al up with a potato masher. When you're happy with the consistency strain through a seive or colander and pour into a warmed jug.
Shred the pork with 2 forks (remove the crackling first)
Serve with your chosen veg, potatoes and applesauce.

1 comment:

Kate@whatkatebaked said...

I love you've calculated exactly how many minutes it took! But what a comforting and cheery dish for such a gloomy month!


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