God knows I love a traditional roast. Roast dinners have a universal sentimental appeal – there’s something about crisp chicken skin, fluffy potatoes (with all the appropriate crunchy bits) and gravy that triggers some shared memory of scrubbed Sunday tables and the good cutlery and it feels like home. I can’t think of any other meal that has the same significance for almost everyone I know.
This is a mixed blessing, though. Whilst it means that you’re always bound to get a good number of people around the table, which is good both for social and financial reasons, it does mean that you have to tread very carefully when messing about with the meat, particularly. People like what they know with roasts, so it’s important to stay true to the character of a good English roast whilst experimenting with flavour.
I finally cracked recently and made my way to Morrisons to pick up a shoulder of pork. I was really after belly – which I’ll come back to in another post because it is my favourite cut – but I think it turned out to be a blessing.
The lime, chilli and coriander combines with the succulent slow cooked meat and more traditional trimmings to lighten the meal and keep your taste buds awake. I imagine that the usual protein, carb and salt combo must get pretty dull for our poor tongues after a while, so it’s good to give them a little buzz.
I basically just did the traditional trimmings with this – roast potatoes and parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, roast beetroot and steamed cabbage fried in butter. However, I was pretty happy with the minted peas I made to help freshen up the meal so I’ve included the recipe for them.
This one does take a little while so give yourself a sufficient run-up.
Zingy Roast Pork Shoulder and Minted Peas
For the pork:
- About 2kg of pork shoulder was too much for 5, but it’s always nice to have leftovers.
- One chilli, chopped.
- Two garlic cloves.
- Salt and pepper.
For the peas:
- Peas. I buy one of those bags about the size of a baby’s head or a medium sized boob and that’s enough for four.
- Fresh mint.
- One garlic clove.
- Olive oil.
- A few drops of cider/white wine vinegar.
Preheat to 220ºc, probably. On my oven it’s about a 3/4 turn of the knob and really quite hot.
Your hunk of meat will probably be tied, either around the bone or without any bone at all. Untie the meat, being careful not to detach the layer of skin and fat on top of the shoulder. Turn the meat skin side down and cut deep into the flesh with a large knife. Go about one third or half the way through the meat. Using a hand-blender, whizz the juice from the lime, the chilli, the garlic, the oil and the coriander together. Season with salt and pepper. You want a thick paste, so add oil a little at a time until you’ve got a chunky pesto-ish consistency. Spread the mixture over the bottom of the meat and right down into the cuts in the meat.
Turn the meat the right way up onto a roasting dish. Don’t worry if some of the paste squidges out around the edges, it’ll still flavour the meat. Use your sharpest knife to score cuts into the skin, right down into the fat, but not into the meat. My dad’s got a knife that’s amazing for this, a Japanese sushi knife made from about a billion pieces of folded steel. I used a steak knife. I recommend the former.
Dry the skin with kitchen towel and rub salt and pepper into the scores you’ve just made. Blow on the skin gently to get rid of any excess salt, but it is going to be crackling so don’t go mental – salt’s a pretty important part of crackling.
Put the pork joint in the middle of the oven and roast it dry for 30 minutes, at which point the skin should just start puffing up and turning into crackling. At this point turn the oven down to around 170ºc and baste the meat with the fat that’s rendered out in the higher heat. Ideally you’d also cover the pork shoulder in tin foil at this point. It will cook more slowly, but the meat becomes that extra bit more succulent. It takes about 4 1/2 hours with the foil, more like three without. Your choice, but I seriously recommend covering. If you do go with foil, take it off after about 3 1/2 hours and replace the pork in the oven uncovered for an hour.
When the pork’s done, take it out and let it sit covered on a chopping board for about ten minutes before carving it. Whilst the meat’s settling, make the peas. Use the handheld to blend a lot of fresh mint (literally like three bunches) with the garlic, vinegar, a tiny splash of oil and a lot of pepper. Melt the butter in a pan and add the frozen peas. When they start to hiss and steam, stir in the minty mix and cook until all the peas are soft.
I like Kabinett riesling with pork, but some people prefer a light red. I think the low alcohol of riesling is refreshing alongside all that proteiny, carby goodness.
Check back later for literally the best leftovers meal I’ve ever made.