The slow roasting of a pork shoulder over the course of a weekend afternoon has become a ritual for me. I love having a versatile starting point for a large meal with friends or small meals through the weekend, from shredded pork tacos to a warm pork sandwich with pickled onions, sharp cheese, and plenty of mustard. Oh – and a potato, pork, and greens hash makes a heavenly resting place for poached eggs.
Walk in the door to this smell after a long day and you’ll feel what home smells like.
My go-to spice blend has been Herbs de Provence, however, I’ve begun to stray – branch out, really. Vary your spice blend by your choice of accompaniments: use a Greek blend and serve chunks of pork on a lemony salad with olives and avocado, tomatoes and a little feta and some cucumber. Use an Italian blend and roast some broccoli rabe with garlic and chili flakes, finished with balsamic or sherry vinegar.
I really do love the Herbs de Provence and would encourage you to try it (perhaps with a potato and fennel gratin and a greens salad!), but sometimes the lavender can be a bit overwhelming – try a mixture of dried thyme, rosemary, and fennel if the lavender isn’t your speed. Whatever blend you choose, just make sure it is salt free. If you can't find a pre-mixed product you like or want to use what you have in the house, try a combination of fennel, basil, oregano, thyme and sage. The cut of pork is non-negotiable -- you will NOT have the same result with a pork loin roast. It's just too lean for this kind of cooking and you'll end up with a brick, and you'll want to throw it through my window.
Weekend Roast Pork
4.5 lb boneless pork shoulder, sometimes called Boston Butt
.5 oz blended dried spices
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbs coarse kosher salt
1 Tbs crushed black pepper
Remove the roast from the fridge 30 – 45 minutes prior to cooking.
Preheat the oven to 275F.
Pat your pork dry. Salt and pepper all surfaces. Combine remaining spices and crushed pepper and fully coat the roast -- anywhere you see pink, add more herbs mixture. This is what's going to create a flavorful crust as the fat starts to render during cooking.
I like to set up everything I'm going to put on the pork directly on my prep surface in advance, so that once my hands get all porky, I can put my hands on what I need without worrying about contaminating anything in my kitchen.
Roast for 6 ½ hours, basting with drippings 2 -3 times during the last hour of cooking.
Remove from the oven and rest 15 – 20 minutes before serving.
I like to pull chunks from the roast with tongs or a spoon (it's that tender) rather than slice – it’s not going to be pretty any way you cut it.
I roasted this all afternoon yesterday while I was pottering about the house getting ready for my other half to come home after a week away. When we got home from the airport, the house was cozy and fragrant. When he was settled in (but by no means unpacked) I made a salad of avocado, tomato, butter lettuce and some leftover baby Yukon gold potatoes and finished it with a mustard and sherry vinegar dressing, which helped balance the richness of the pork. Bon apetit, indeed!