Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pig heaven

Welcome to deliciousville

Last night, the Goat and I enjoyed what might have been the best roast pork I have ever eaten. It was also one of the easiest to prepare.

I can't take any of the creative credit for this one. Here is the recipe. For all you serious foodies out there, here is the science behind it.

You're basically looking at putting a pork shoulder (butt) in a 250 degree oven for eight hours, letting it rest, and then crisping it up in a 500 degree oven for 20 minutes.

My tips:

-My roast was grocery-store-standard-issue and did not have the skin.  

-I used a six-pound roast (the recipe calls for an eight- to 12-pounder) and left it in the oven for nine hours. It was perfect. Smaller roasts DO NOT mean shorter roasting times. (Not that I ever made that mistake and served up a chewy piece of shoe leather to my dearly beloved and offspring. No, not me. Ever. Nope.)

-I seasoned the roast with (of course) Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

Okay, pix:

Da pork after the long, slow roast

Da pork after the high-heat crisping

You can really see how the crisping transforms the crust. Now, HAD I pulled a few tasters off during the interim resting time, I would be able to verify that, while it was delicious after the slow roast, the final high-heat crisping took it to the next level.

Um ... yeah.

You'll just have to rely on the pix to see the difference that 20 minutes @500 degrees makes (it's huge).

I set that roast right on the table and the Goat and I pulled off chunks and dipped them in my homemade BBQ sauce. The result was utterly sublime--a delicate crispy crust connected to tender threads of pork. The crisped fat was unbelievably delicious and oh-so-rich.

Behold evil indulgence!

We pulled and munched our fill, and the two of us removed the rest of the meat from the bone for leftovers. And while the resulting pork sammies will no doubt be terrific tonight, that beautiful crust has to be enjoyed right after roasting. It's best qualities do not survive the refrigerator.

Anyhow, do this. Make some potato salad for a winter's eve picnic at the kitchen table. You will not be disappointed, although afterward you may be worthy of an ...


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John Venlet said...

Erin, that looks scrumptious! No Velveeta required. Recipe will be bookmarked, and then acted upon. Let's eat!

Erin O'Brien said...

John, you will not be disappointed. I was so so so good. For the record, I did not tent the resting meat for fear of condensation ruining the crust.

dean said...

Well now. I cooked a butt (which is really shoulder, but still) at 225 indirect over charcoal, and that took 14 hours. Usually it doesn't take that long, but the one I did last Monday did.

I also make my own barbeque sauce - homemade ketchup, ballpark mustard, molasses, honey, onions, garlic, cider vinegar, and about 12 or 14 spices.

I think you and I should meet in... oh, say, Montana and have a pork-off.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

The same thinking is the reason why a lot of chefs cook whole poultry at two different temperatures. Most start out with the bird in a hot oven - 450 degrees F or so, then lower it to about 325 after about 20-30 minutes to finish cooking.

I'll take this a step further and say you could accomplish the same crispness on the skin with a blowtorch (the small ones you can buy in a hardware store).

Finally, one of my favorite things to do with the skin I remove from pork bellies when making bacon is to gently simmer it until tender, then place it between two sheet pans lined with silpat liners. It's cooked until very crisp, and whatever fat that was left is rendered out. Almost like bacon - yum.


Erin O'Brien said...

I like Al's torch tip. You crazy chefs know all the shortcuts! That cooked skin sounds wonderful.

I'm sure you BBQed roast was delicious, Dean. It's been so damn cold here for so long, I feel like we'll never grill again.

For giggles, here is my BBQ sauce recipe (I LOVE this stuff):

1 C of onion
2 T minced garlic
1 t of ground cumin
1/2 t ground red pepper
2 C of ketchup
1 C malt vinegar (no substitutions)
1/2 C soy sauce
1/2 C brown sugar
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t liquid smoke

Sauté the onion, garlic, cumin and red pepper for five minutes. Add the
rest of the ingredients and cook for ten minutes more.

It keeps for a while in the fridge.

John Venlet said...

It keeps for a while in the fridge.

That's assuming there's any BBQ sauce left, and since I'm gonna make this deliciousness the next time my boys come over for dinner, I doubt I'll be refrigerating any leftovers.

Anonymous said...

I gain weight just reading these posts but it does look yummy.


Jon Moore said...

I barbecue my shoulder. Memphis dry rub, injected with citrus juice and slow cooked over indirect heat for hours while rolling on the smoke. So it was with a bit of skepticism that I pulled a 9+ pound shoulder out yesterday with the intention of trying this recipe. All I can say is, what a treat. This was undoubtedly the most tender pork roast I have ever had from an indoor kitchen. Any shortcomings I take full responsibility for. Something that wasn't mentioned in the recipe and should always be done is to remove the pig from the fridge and let it come up to room temperature. I neglected to do this since it was a very last minute decision to cook this yesterday. Consequently, my shoulder would have benefitted from another hour or so in the oven. I left the fat saddle intact and put the roast in with this on top. It self basted this way. Had I been doing this in the cooker the fat saddle would have been trimmed or at least placed down to avoid the meat becoming greasy. In the oven, without smoke, this wasn't a problem. Finally, after crisping the whole thing at 500 degrees for 30 minutes, I turned on the broiler and left it there for about 10 minutes to really finish that fat.
Something this good should be a whole lot more difficult, but it isn't. Just remember that it isn't internal temp your looking for, but cooking time. When the bone twists freely, your meat is done.
Thanks for the recipe, Erin.
A side note. I made a sauce by combining House of Tsang's sweet and sour with a liberal dose of Sriracha chili sauce. Everyone here thought it quite good.

Erin O'Brien said...

Sounds great, Jon.

Actually, any meat or poultry should be at room temperature before cooking. Not so sure about fish.

Mrs. C said...

Kenji over at is my go-to for the science behind the success with food. He is a big fan of Alton Brown, as am I, and so has made a career of examining the ways through to edible perfection.

All that said, that method is rather the reverse of the one I use with both pork and poultry. The beast meat goes into the hot oven for 20, then I drops the temp to 170 for poultry and 160 for pork and let 'er go for an hour per pound or more--you cannot overcook it if your set temp for the long haul is the "cooked to perfection" temp of the finished roast. Results have been so, so very nommulous ever since I have gone this route. Of course, though, our next shoulder-butt will be prepped this way: Kenji's science is hard to argue with.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Mrs. C - your methods are consistent with the sous vide cooking technique. Immersion circulators can now be had for a few hundred bucks or less, and are easy for the home cook to use - one doesn't even need a vacuum sealer for the bags, either - simple ziplocs will do.