Roast pork hadn’t been high on the agenda of Sunday roast dinners until a friend of Jewish heritage recently slow roasted a 4kg pork shoulder for dinner. It was flavourful and pulled apart from the long, slow cook in the oven and best of all, there’s the holy grail of roasts – crackling. Delicious, delicious crackling.
I’ve always been intimidated by pork roasts – but I thought if he could do it, so could I (this isn’t a reflection of his cooking ability – he’s actually a really great cook). So here’s a recipe that’s great for weekends and when you’re lazing at home.
As it turns out, this is a really good one to start on. The only real rule is to use a good quality, free range pork. You can’t really overcook pork at 110C, so be prepared to let it take it’s time in the oven until it’s pull apart with a fork tender. The only thing you need to be prepared for is if it takes longer than you expect, so leave lots of time.
If the crackling still hasn’t crisped up, take a long-bladed knife and slide it under the skin to remove the crackling, and give it a bit longer in the oven at 200C.
- 2.5–3.25 kg whole pork shoulder, bone out -ask your butcher to score the skin for you
- vegetable oil
- salt flakes
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- juice of 2 lemons
- 200 ml extra virgin olive oil
- The day before you plan to roast the pork, unwrap it and place it on a roasting rack (over a plate) on the lowest shelf of your fridge. This allows the skin to dry out and crisp up better.
- Preheat your oven to 200C. To prepare the meat, pat it dry, then lightly brush the pork with a small amount of vegetable oil and rub salt flakes into the skin - if you are not using salt flakes, be less liberal with the salt as table salt is much saltier .
- Put the pork on a wire rack in a roasting tin that will be able to catch any juices. Cook in the oven until nicely coloured and the skin becomes crispy, about 30 - 45mins. While that is happening make your paste. If your pork shoulder is smaller, remember to scale down the quantities used to make the paste.
- Lightly toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan over low heat, then scoop them into a mortar and use the pestle to grind them with the chilli. Add the garlic and a little salt and keep grinding until it forms a paste. Slowly add your lemon juice and olive oil, mixing well.
- Carefully remove the pork from the oven and reduce the temperature to 110C (130C if you're rushing). Brush the paste all over the sides and bottom of the pork, avoiding the skin. Pour a little water into the roasting tin to prevent the juices from burning. Return the pork to the oven.
- Check your pork from time to time, adding a little more water to the tin if needed. You can tell when your pork is cooked when the meat starts to give from the bone when you push it with your finger—this will take between 5 and 6 hours. Don't worry - you can't overcook it at 110C.
- Serve while warm - I like to eat it with coleslaw and roast potatoes.
If the pork hasn't developed enough of a crackling at the end of cooking time, turn the oven on to 200C (preferably top grill only) and continue to cook, watching closely as it only takes half a minute to go from perfectly crispy to slightly blackened.