I tend to become rather... enthusiastic about my food.
Okay, maybe enthusiastic isn't a negative, but ambitious can be. As in, I'll be having a rough or busy Tuesday, and my escape is always that I'll start fantasizing about the wonderful things I can do with the pork shoulder I invested in last week. By the time I get home and it's dark outside, and that chunk of meat is still in the freezer, my frazzled brain says, "Hey, wait, what? We're going to bed in two hours? What about that four course meal I've been obsessing about and that's the only way I made it through the day??"
I'm working on tamping down those ambitions a bit, for the weekdays, finding meals that require less time, ingredients, and energy investments.
But that doesn't mean I don't still daydream about a Sunday devoted to a veeeerrrrry slowly roasted pork shoulder, homemade bread, interesting and diverse creations from the vegetables from my CSA share. That's comfort to me: the proofing of the dough, figuring out how to incorporate cardamom in my next pumpkin pie, never having to turn on the furnace despite the snow outside because the warm oven from 10 hour roast is enough.
This is what Jamie Oliver's new book, Jamie's Comfort Food, is all about. He discourages the home cook from attempting any of these meals during the weekdays (or whenever it is that you're busy), and to understand that the point of these meals is the time and energy investment.
Though the truth is, depending on how homemade you want this particular meal to be, it doesn't require much investment of energy or active kitchen time. This one is all about patience and half a relaxed day.
Overnight Roasted Pork Shoulder
by Jamie Oliver
serves 12 with lotsa leftover meat
1 x 11-lb shoulder of pork, bone in, skin removed and reserved
2-3 eating apples
3 stalks celery
1 bulb garlic
1 bunch fresh sage (1 oz)
4 fresh bay leaves
2 cups hard cider
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 whole cloves
2 dried chilis
- Preheat the oven to full whack (475 degrees F). Toss the reserved pork skin in a little oil and sea salt (you can either slice it into long, thin strips or leave as one piece), lay it flat on a baking sheet, and roast until perfectly golden and crisp, keeping a close eye on it, then remove. Peel the onions, then cut into wedges with the apples. Trim and roughly chop the celery and break the garlic bulb into cloves. Scatter it all in your largest roasting pan with the sage and bay leaves, pour in the cider, and add a good splash of water. Bash the fennel seeds, cloves, dried chilis, and 1 heaping teaspoon of salt to a fine dust with a mortar and pestle, then massage all over the pork with a drizzle of oil. Sit the pork in the pan, cover tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil, place in the oven, and turn the temperature down to 250 degrees F. Roast for 10 to 12 hours, or until the meat pulls easily away from the bone, then remove from the oven and cover with a couple clean kitchen towels to keep warm... You'll get a natural brothy gravy underneath the pork - reduce it on the stove before serving if desired.
- Freshen this up with a zingy salsa. Chop 2 eating apples into fine matchsticks and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Pick, roll up, and finely slice the leaves from 1/2 a bunch of fresh mint and toss into the bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Simple.
So, first off, the recipe I've transcribed above from the book is heavily edited. All I have removed is the additional instructions for a fennel and potato gratin to include with the roast but that I didn't make. Instead, I made the apple salsa, as Jamie calls it (I'd call it an apple slaw), and made pulled pork sandwiches with my always beloved light brioche buns, recipe courtesy of Clever Carrot.
The other adaptations I made: my pork shoulder was only 8 pounds, and so the cooking time was closer to about eight and a half hours. The bones did, literally, just fall off into the broth beneath. I otherwise left the ingredient measurements the same. I did not make the crisped pork skin to accompany, simply because my meat didn't have skin, but I've included the instructions for this in case you're luckier than I was. I roasted the shoulder in a large covered caste iron pot.
We are exceedingly happy with the results. Meat to last for some time (I may have to freeze some, for future meals), perfectly richly (but not too heavily) flavoured; an incredible early winter meal.
The pork is my second meal from Comfort Food. The first weekend I had the book, I made the Beef and Barley Buns (with a creme fraiche and horseradish sauce!), and have benefitted from the time investment ever since; they freeze wonderfully and heat up still light and tender for lunch as if they just came out of the oven freshly made.
Looks like the next time I'm fantasizing about food in the middle of the workday, it'll be all about quick weeknight meals involving gorgeous pulled pork.