Not such a big deal when I am just cooking for Mat and me. He is very forgiving! Pretty huge deal when I have five people round for dinner. As I didn't know when people were going to show up and I have one family member in particular that takes punctuality not too seriously, your usual beef, chicken etc. was a no-no.
Then I came across this recipe and was immediately sold! Pork shoulder is one of the more affordable cuts and if cooked correctly produces the most succulent meat and beautiful crackling. It doesn't matter if it sits in the oven for a little longer or has to rest under a double layer of tin foil for an extra half an hour. The end result is seriously tender, fall apart meat and crunchy, bubbly crackling.
I simply served this with roast potatoes and bacon and rosemary red cabbage. Everyone loved it and I was a happy bunny!
So if you are a Sunday Roast novice this is one for you! Six hours in the oven you say? It might be a little more expensive on the electrics but hey the money you are saving on the cut of meat is a lot!
For the roast
- 2 kg shoulder of pork, bone-in, skin on (Note: I used a cut without a bone as that is all I could get my hands on at the time. If you can, ideally, you'd get a cut with the bone still in but no big deal if you can't ;))
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 red onions, halved
- 2 carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
- 2 sticks celery, halved
- 1 bulb garlic, skin on, broken into cloves
- 6-8 bay leaves
- 600 ml water or vegetable stock
- 1 glass of red wine
- a dash of double cream
For the potatoes
- 12 good size roasting potatoes (I used King Edward), peeled and quartered and left in a bowl of water to rest
- sea salt and black pepper
- olive oil
For the red cabbage
- 1 medium size red cabbage, outer leaves removed and finely shredded
- 6 rashers of smoked bacon, diced
- a knob of butter
- a dash of red wine vinegar
- 3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves only
- 2tbsps brown sugar
- salt and pepper
- 250ml beef or vegetable stock
For the apple sauce (you can also just buy a jar of this but I love making my own as it is so simple)
- 4 Bramley cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
- rind of half a lemon (just use a peeler to get this)
- 2tsp sugar
- dash of water
- Pre-heat the oven to 220˚C.
- Place your pork on a clean work surface, skin-side up. If your pork hasn't been scored yet, get yourself a small sharp knife and make scores about a centimeter apart through the skin into the fat. Make sure not to cut into the meat. If the joint has been tied already, make sure you don't cut into the string. If it hasn't been tied roll it tightly and tie using this technique. If you haven't done this before you might need a second pair of hands.
- Rub salt right into all the scores you've just made. Turn the roast around and season the underside with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting tray skin side up and roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes until the skin starts to crisp up and just turn into crackling.
- Turn the oven down to 170˚C. Tightly cover the meat with two layers of tin foil and roast at the reduced temperature for four and a half hours.
- In the meantime you can prepare your cabbage. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Fry the bacon and the rosemary in the butter for about five minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Remove from the pot.
- Add the sugar to the butter and keep stirring until it starts to caramelise (you might have to add a little water if you feel it's getting too dark too quickly).
- After about 5-10 minutes add the cabbage and stir to cover it with the caramel. Cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to soften then mix in the bacon/rosemary and deglaze the pot with a dash of red wine vinegar. Careful this will be super hot and vinegary so avoid any deep breaths ;)
- Give it all a good stir, add the stock then turn the heat down to low/medium and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring it occasionally to stop it from sticking. Once the cabbage is nice and tender you can turn off the heat and leave it until you are almost ready to serve.
- Once your meat has been in the oven for four and a half hours, baste it with the fat in the bottom of the tray, take it out carefully and place onto a chopping board.
- Pour out most of the fat (save for your roast potatoes) then place your carrots, celery, onions, bay leaves and garlic in the bottom of the tray and move them around a bit until the are coated in the pork fat. Place the pork on top of the vegetables and put back in the oven (without the tin foil this time) and roast for another hour.
- Drain your potatoes and generously season with salt and pepper. If you have enough fat from the roast pour that over the potatoes if not drizzle generously with olive oil. Give it all a good stir and place onto a roasting tray. Once your pork has another 15 minutes left in the oven place the potatoes on the rack below your roast and cook for 45minutes until the potatoes are crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle.
- For your apple sauce, put your diced apples into a bottom heavy sauce pan with a dash of water and the lemon rind. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are falling apart and are the consistency of a compote. Mix in the sugar and take out the lemon rind, then leave to rest until you are ready to serve.
- When the pork is cooked, take out of the oven, place onto a serving platter, cover with two layers of tin foil and leave to rest while you make the gravy and your potatoes finish roasting. At this point you might want to start heating up your cabbage again.
- Spoon away any fat in the tray, then place the roasting tray onto your hob over a medium/high heat. Add the glass of wine and deglaze the tray, making sure you get all the lovely brown bits. Leave to simmer for a minute or so then add your stock/water. Simmer for a further five minutes then, using a stick blender roughly blend the veg. You don't want a puree but want to break everything up a little. Our blender has a life of its own and splashes everywhere so you might want to transfer everything to a large bowl. Pour everything through a sieve into a good size saucepan, pushing through the soft veggies. Place onto a medium heat and leave to simmer for a few minutes until the gravy starts to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and add a dash of cream.
- Well and now I guess you are ready to serve. You can either slice the pork or just pull it apart. I know this is a long old post and looks like a lot of work but as far as roasts go this is easy-peasy and worth every single hour. Enjoy!