Monday, May 5, 2014

Roast pork shoulder tutorial

I got this message from a friend of mine, stationed overseas.  It's been slightly edited for privacy.  

"...There right before [us] was a 13 pound frozen pork shoulder. [We] bought it immediately, remembering that you had cooked one for your blog and it looked wonderful. So now I am writing asking for more cooking advice beyond "open pan, 325, for about four hours." how did you spice it and how did you make the gravy? We'll send you photos of how ours turned out, giving you full credit if its good, and we probably won't say much to anybody if it isn't."

He was referring to my recent post in which I described a whole pork shoulder that I roasted.  

My reply:

That's a big piece of meat! 

First, does it have the skin (rind) on it?  If so, that's the best!  If the skin had been removed it probably has a fat cap, or layer of fat that was just under the skin. 

You'll see in the blog post that I have the roast inverted on my cutting board.  I cut small slits in the meat, and insert pieces of garlic with parsley leaves (or basil, or rosemary, or thyme, or a combination if you have them) in about ten places in the roast.

I then salt and pepper the roast liberally on all sides, situate it skin side UP in the roasting pan, and as you say, open pan, 325°F, for about 4 hours. 

After you have removed the roast from the oven, remove it to a platter, and pour off all but a couple tablespoons of the drippings.  (If it's easier, you can pour everything off, and re-measure the reserved fat back into the pan.)  Put the pan on the stove top, and add a couple tablespoons of flour to the fat in the pan, stir it around and start scraping up the brown bits in the pan.  Add a few cups of chicken stock (the canned variety is fine), and continue to scrape up the brown bits.  As it cooks, the gravy will thicken.  If the gravy becomes too thick, add more stock or even water, until you have a gravy of your desired thickness.  Check seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the gravy into a serving bowl, and pass at the table. 

Another option for gravy (fussier, but it works well), is to make your gravy ahead in a separate pot on the stove top, using butter instead of pan drippings, and a homemade stock, made with pork bones and aromatic vegetables.  This is how a lot of people make their Thanksgiving gravy, albeit with turkey stock, instead of waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven.

If the skin was left on the roast, you can peel if off, crack it into pieces, and enjoy it with your meal. 

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