I wanted something that involved just enough cooking to test my 'chops' (Get it? Chops? HAHAHAHAhahahasorry) while still being basic enough to ensure success and, again, really let me taste the pork itself, since this cut had nothing added by Dennison.
I ended up using the first result that came up when I googled 'pork shoulder roast.' It's a recipe called "Fall-Apart Tender Slow-Roast Pork" (see below) on the site ochef.com, which appears to be kind of a cool 'ask the chef' type site.
(Interesting sidenote: Apparently Google's lawyers are getting feisty about the use of 'google' as a verb. So I'm going to use it a bunch and see if I can get free publicity out of the ensuing lawsuit. Please google 'googled' to learn more about Google and its war on googling. (Sidenote footnote: That last sentence was added to make it more likely this page will turn up on Google when Google's lawyers google 'googled' or 'googling.'))
The things I was looking for was a slow-cook method (I really like slow cooking, and given that this is a tougher cut, I wanted something that would make it tender without making me hit it with a hammer or marinading overnight), and I wanted the prep so easy a caveman could do it.
What, did I offend you? Tell you what, Einstein, you invent the wheel
first, THEN worry about your car insurance, and then come back and
we'll talk about how I besmirched your intelligence.
Anyway, on to the recipe:
Fall-Apart Tender Slow-Roast Pork
From Shirley Corriher, author of Cookwise (Canada, UK)
1 pork butt roast (about 4 pounds)
1/4 to 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the rack slightly below the center of the oven.
- Place the pork in a casserole that is just large enough to hold it and has a lid. Sprinkle the roast on all sides with Worcestershire sauce. Then press brown sugar coating on all sides of the pork. Pour the apple juice down the side of the casserole to the bottom, being sure not to drizzle it on the crusted meat. Cover tightly.
- Place the roast in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 200°F (95°C). Roast without opening the oven door for about 5 hours, until the meat is so tender that it pulls apart easily. If the meat does not pull apart easily, cover, and return to the oven and roast 30 minutes more. Check again, roast 30 minutes more as needed.
- Pull the meat apart and remove the bone. Stir the salt into the juices at the bottom of the pan. Serve meat in its delicious juice hot or at room temperature.
Note: This can easily be done in a slow cooker. Set it on high for 30 minutes, then turn down the heat to low, and let it cook for most of the day or even overnight.
So here's how it went down for me:
That's good lookin' pork shoulder! As far as I know. Actually, it looks like something Fred Flintstone would eat.
I didn't trim the fat. It seemed so thin and I assumed it would dissolve as it cooked. Wasn't a dealbreaker, but I probably should have - then the brown sugar crust and apple juice on the side could have permeated the meat there, too.
[Five hours later]
Mmmm, smells great! Now to pull back the foil, and...
Plated. What's that you say? Am I a professional food artist? No, I
am not, and I don't appreciate your sarcasm. I used to eat mac and
cheese from the pan with a spatula, so this is pretty good for me.
The meat was DELICIOUS. It didn't shred as easily as I expected, but I didn't have time to continue roasting, either. My friend Sean smoked a butt roast at a barbecue I was at once, and when he was done it fell apart like spaghetti when twisted with a fork. Mine needed a knife, so I think I could do better, but the flavor was amazing; it was moist and sweet and salty and just for yum.
As instructed in the recipe, I added some salt to the juice and ladled some over the pork. After dinner, I sieved the juice and ended up with a couple cups.
Shannon really liked this one - she wasn't as obsessed with the texture as I was, so she might actually have been a fairer judge of the flavor on its own merits.
The next day I skimmed the fat from the au jus and made a pork sandwich for lunch with what was left of the roast. It was just a wheat bun, pork and cheddar. With retrospect I should have used a dry, porous bread like French bread to soak up the juice, but still, not bad at all.
Unfortunately, we had just enough meat left over for the one sandwich (once cooked and de-boned, the roast was substantially smaller than when it started), but I still had 2 cups of the au jus. Seriously, I never thought I would finish that third glass of it.
And that concludes my first real cooking. Stay tuned!