Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thinking About Doing a Pork Roast this Holiday?

The latest issue of Saveur is really worth picking up. I’ve had it for a week and I’ve already been inspired by it twice. First I made these sweet potato cakes. This time I tried the Crisp Roast Pork using pork picnic shoulder. It turned out phenomenal, even though I didn’t cook it the way they recommended (to 160º internal temperature in a 325º oven).

I am a firm believer in the “slow” and “low” method when it comes to large pork roasts. By slow I mean 1 ½ to 2 hours per pound of meat and low means a 250º to 275º oven. I know it seems extreme, but I promise you’ll be rewarded with a succulent tasty pork roast. So tasty that you’ll dream about it and want to tell anyone who will listen what you ate for dinner.

Don't be alarmed if the meat becomes a little discolored by the citrus juices. It won't affect the results. Roasting is best done in a shallow roasting pan. I used a cast iron skillet, which worked wonderfully to caramelize the underside.

Carribean-Inspired Roast Pork
  • 2 tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs black peppercorns
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs kosher salt + extra for seasoning to taste
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 to 6 pound pork picnic shoulder (Boston butt will also do)

Look at this beautiful pork picnic shoulder! This one has been de-boned but the fat layer was left on. You may choose to trim it before roasting, but I like the way it gets crunchy in the oven.

Toast the cumin seeds and peppercorns on a dry skillet until fragrant.

In a food processor, add the toasted spices, oregano, cayenne, garlic and 1 tbs kosher salt and process into a paste. Alternatively you can pound everything in a mortar, which is what I did. I find the flavors blend better when you pound the hell out of them.

Rub the paste all over the roast, pressing into any and every crevice. Tie it up, transfer to a large Ziploc bag and add the orange juice and lime juice. Refrigerate, turning occasionally for 18 to 24 hours.

Since this roast was de-boned, it was basically cut in half. If yours still has a bone, make slits in the meat so you can rub the seasonings in. Get the spices into all the crevices.

Up to two hours before roasting, remove the pork from the fridge to bring to room temperature. If you can drain the roast on a rack set over a roasting pan, that will help drain the excess liquid. Season the pork with a little more salt, set in a roasting pan (not on a rack) and roast in a 275º preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches between 195º to 205º (if you’re pressed for time, just go to 185º). Allow 1 ½ to 2 hours per pound for it to reach this temperature range.

The original recipe calls for basting the roast every 30 minutes, but I’m not a baster. I don’t believe in opening an oven to let the heat out. Basting may help poultry skin get crisper (although I’m not convinced), but I don’t find it does much to roasting pork. Try, try, try not to open the oven for any reason whatsoever until at least halfway through the cooking time. Once you reach the halfway mark, turn the roast over.

This roast is only halfway done. If your roasting pan becomes dry, you can add a cup of water to it.

Once done, allow the roast to rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the juices to re-distribute. This roast is so succulent, you don't need a pan sauce. A simple salsa will do. I also served it with cilantro rice and sauteed corn.


Marvin said...

Besides roasting a turkey once a year, I'm always very hesitant to roast anything else because then I'd have to drag out my giant roasting pan. And then I'd have to wash my giant roasting pan. Roasting the pork in a CI skillet is an awesome idea.

dp said...

Marvin, CI is the way to go! I try to cook with it as much as I can.