Main Attraction.

Earlier in the week, I alluded to the cooking I did during the holidays and the subsequent need some healthy food after weeks of eating the exact opposite. Case in point?

This giant hunk of fatty, delicious pork shoulder.

The recipe was originally printed in Gourmet a couple of years back; I’d dogeared the page, as usual, but never got around to making it. Also as usual. So, imagine my pleasure and surprise when I found it in my newly acquired copy of Gourmet Today; with an uninterrupted span of vacation time ahead of me, it seemed the perfect occasion to give it a go.

It couldn’t have been easier to make and resulted in enough crispy cracklings and pulled pork, subtly perfumed with garlic and oregano, to feed an army—a few hours of marination, a few hours in the oven, and, just like that, dinner for weeks. Perhaps best of all, the pan drippings made for a great, easy gravy.

I served the pile of meat with black beans—recipe also from Gourmet Today—and a swirl of wilted spinach to maintain the pretense of nutrition, but no one was fooled. Pork was the star of this show.

Garlic-Roasted Pork Shoulder
By Maggie Ruggiero | Gourmet, September 2007

1 head garlic, cloves peeled
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 (7- to 7 1/2-pound) bone-in pork shoulder with skin
Accompaniment: lime wedges

1. Mash garlic to a paste with 2 tablespoons kosher salt using a mortar and pestle or side of a large heavy knife, then stir in oregano, vinegar, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon pepper.

2. Pat pork dry. Using a small sharp knife, cut a wide pocket at large end of roast to separate skin from fat, leaving skin attached at sides and stopping before roast narrows to bone.

3. Make 1-inch-deep slits in pork under skin and on all meaty sides, twisting knife slightly to widen openings, then push some of garlic mixture into slits with your fingers. Rub any remaining garlic mixture over roast (not skin). Wipe skin clean, then rub with remaining teaspoon kosher salt (to help it crisp). Transfer pork to a glass or ceramic shallow dish and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours.

4. Put pork, skin side up, in a flameproof roasting pan, discarding marinade, and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

5. Cover pork with parchment paper and then tightly with foil and roast 2 1/2 hours. Discard foil and parchment, then add 1/2 cup water to pan and roast, uncovered, adding more water when liquid in pan evaporates (check about every half hour), until skin is browned and crisp and meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours more. Transfer to a cutting board or platter, reserving juices in pan, and let stand 30 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, pour pan juices through a sieve into a fat separator or bowl and discard fat. Add 3/4 cup water to roasting pan and deglaze by boiling over medium-high heat (straddle 2 burners if necessary), scraping up brown bits, 1 minute, then add to pan juices along with enough water to bring total to 1 1/2 cups.

7. Cut skin off roast pork. (If skin is not crisp, roast in a shallow baking pan in a 475°F oven until crisp, about 10 minutes.) Cut skin into serving pieces. Pull meat from roast in pieces using a fork. Serve meat with pan juices and pork skin.

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3 thoughts on “Main Attraction.

  1. marsha says:

    Where did this love of all things pork come from??!! :)

  2. My recipe has been hacked! Regardless, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Isn’t the skin amazing?

  3. Maya says:

    So good! Contrary to how it may appear, I’m not usually a fan of stuff that’s almost all fat, but I ate more of the skin than the meat. And there’s still a bunch in the freezer awaiting a second incarnation.

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