Monday, July 12, 2010
Summer vacation has officially begun chez RL. I wish I could say I hadn’t been posting because I’ve been too busy relaxing, but it wouldn’t be true. I have been having lots of fun, because we kicked off summer vacation with a weeklong visit from my sister S. and her family: BIL D. (previously mentioned as the BIL who can cook), and offspring Miss I., Miss R., and Mr. C. We took them to some our favorite local spots, and discovered some new places. And, of course, consumed a lot of food along the way.
Organizing meals for eight people, not to mention preparing them, is a whole different ballgame than for three. Probably not the most original observation ever, but one I’ve spent a lot of time pondering over the past several days. I relied on large hunks of meat to form the centerpiece of meals, fill up the starving hordes, and provide leftovers that could be creatively repurposed. Also not original as a strategy, and for good reason: it worked. Except when they ate up all the meat and there weren’t any leftovers, as with this recipe.
Slow-roasted pork shoulder
adapted from Nigella Bites
The original recipe calls for 24 hours of roasting time. Since it also calls for a 9.5 kg (21 lb) piece of meat, I figured I could get away with making some adjustments for the 4-lb (2-kg) joint I had. It also says that it cannot overcook, which I am somewhat dubious about; I wasn’t unhappy with the texture of the finished piece, but I was also glad I had decided to make gravy to go along with it.
1 shoulder of pork, about 4 lbs (~2 kg)
salt & pepper
4 garlic cloves
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
sprinkle hot pepper flakes
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven at its highest heat (make sure your oven is clean, or it will smoke alarmingly and set off your smoke alarm, not that that happened to me *cough*). Put the pork, skin side up, on a rack over a roasting pan, and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Using a sharp knife, cut lines diagonally across the top of the joint, about ¼” in (1/2 cm) deep and ¾” in (1 cm) apart. Repeat going in the other direction, so that the top of the pork is cross-hatched with small diamonds.
Mince the garlic and rosemary as finely as you can, then combine with the pepper and half the oil and vinegar to form a thick, lumpy paste. Smear this all over the top of the pork. Put the dish you mixed the paste in to one side. Put the pork in the oven on the high heat for 30 minutes.
After this initial extreme roast, remove the pork and the pan from the oven, and turn it down to 250F/120C. While it’s cooling down, flip the pork over by whatever means necessary. Pour the rest of the oil and vinegar into the dirty paste-mixing dish and stir around, then scrape the mixture all over the bottom of the pork. Put back in the oven.
Roast for several more hours (I left mine in for seven). About 30-45 minutes before you want to eat, remove from oven to a carving board, tent with foil, and rest while you get on with the rest of dinner.
It will fall apart when you come to carve it. Don’t be alarmed.
Serves 4 adults and 4 children with very few leftovers.*
* So few that I didn’t manage to get a picture, so instead you get a picture of the hordes clustered around Aunt S.’s birthday present—an iPad. Oooooh, what gadget lust that has inspired….