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Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Complex, you would think? A gorgeous hunk of meat, that is full of flavour and moisture. A HUGE and gorgeous hunk of meat.

Complex? No. All it requires is your time, your patience, your oven, and a good cut of meat supplied by your local friendly butcher. That’s it!

Mine had some extra complexities. That probably won’t surprise you. These were not the fault of the pig, or the oven, the oils, or any attendant spices. The issue my friends, was my accent.

The most complex thing about it was ordering it. I called my butcher in advance and ordered a shoulder of pork, bone in. He had explained previously that I would need to order it in advance, as they rarely have bone in joints on the premises. I wanted the bone in, as it would help retain the moisture over a slow roasting time and would retain much more flavour.

Bone in, my butcher repeated. I had discussed it with them last time I was in the shop, so satisfied that the joint was ordered, I hung up.  I called the next day to check they had it. In fact they had three. Huh? Three? I thought they never had any? They did, he said. I checked, bone in? And he said, no, you asked for bone out. Sigh. So, we started again. I called the next evening but he couldn’t understand me, so I went on faith, in the hope that this time my pork shoulder would be there. That evening I successfully collected 4 kgs of pork shoulder with the bone in, and lugged it home.

And that was the difficult bit completed. Cooking it was easy. I didn’t need to cut the skin with a knife as my butcher had already done it for me. I first poured some boiling water over the skin to help the crackling plump up, just a brief splash, and then dried it with some kitchen paper. I crushed some sea salt and fennel seeds in my pestle and mortar and rubbed it all over the pork and into the grooves between the cut skin, then placed it in a roasting tray in  a hot oven (220 degrees celsius) for half an hour. I then covered the roasting tray with a double layer of foil, and lowered the temperature to 170 degrees celsius for 5 hours, basting occasionally. I then removed the foil and roasted it for a further half hour, to crisp the skin even more. I rested it for half an hour and then we tucked in.

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

And there you go. Delicious and simple. There’s lots of i’s in that recipe, but that’s how I did it, and it’s a story more than an instructive recipe.

Pork shoulder in khobez flatbreads with salad. I’ll be making it again. Only I’ll make more next tiem so that there’s lots of leftovers!

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Roast Pork Belly, cooked simply

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

It’s fair to say that I like pork belly. Just a little. Or, is that alot? Yes, it is. ALOT. It’s such a fine cut of meat, packed full of flavour and with that gorgeous crispy crackling as a bonus. It’s cheap too!

I’ve blogged about it in the past (Slow Roast Pork Belly with Cider & Lentils), and it occured to me recently that I ‘ve never blogged about doing it simply without wine or cider, herbs or spices, just au natural. Now, there’s a petit oversight and one which I’ll rectify now.

There are a couple of important things about cooking pork belly. Start it off at a very high temperature, to wake up that crackling and get it moving. Then turn down the heat and roast it long enough to render out the fat. Then blast that sleepy crackling under the grill so it blisters and crisps, almost aching and arching with the effort.

I got another great new tip recently from one of my many cookbooks. Before roasting, pour some boiling water over the pork belly skin, so that the lines that your butcher has cut through the skin pull apart, encouraging fantastic crackling, and reminding it of the job ahead.

This was enough for two, and I had leftovers. I served it with cavolo nero flash fried with red chilli and garlic. It was a fantastic accompaniment.

Ingredients:

1kg pork belly, ask your butcher to cut through the crackling (score it) or do it yourself with a stanley knife, cutting parallel lines through the skin as far as but not through the flesh underneath
Sea salt
Olive Oil

Method:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees celsius.
Put the pork belly in a metal colander and pour boiling water over the top. Drain then pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub some olive oil and sea salt into the flesh (not the skin) and rub sea salt into the skin, and into the grooves cut there.
Place on a rack in a baking tray, to allow the fat to drip out, and roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170 degrees and roast for a further hour and a half (roughly – depends on your cut of meat and the oven – keep an eye on it).
Put on the grill and put the pork belly under it to crisp the crackling. This only takes a few minutes. Take care not to burn it, which can happen very quickly.
Rest for 10-15 minutes, and serve sliced, with the crackling on top. This is delicious served simply with greens like cavolo nero, sprout tops or kale.

Enjoy!