Sometimes having a boyfriend who doesn’t know much about grocery shopping is frustrating. Like he doesn’t recognize half of the items on your shopping list (kudos to him, he has improved a lot over the years!); like you need to send him a Google image of fennel to go with your fennel request; like you asked for blood oranges, but he got Cara because they are next to each other on the shelf. To be honest, it’s quite entertaining sometimes, like opening Pandora’s Box, you never know what’s inside.
Last week he texted me if I want anything from the grocery store because he was running low on his favorite mustard. After quickly scanning through the flyer at work, I asked for some pork shoulder because it’s on sale for an amazing price (something like 99cents/pound)!! I was expecting a big slab of meat once I got home and was thinking about whether I should use our slowcooker or slow roast it in the oven to make pulled pork… debating in my head whether I wanted to make my own barbecue sauce or just use a store-bought sauce. But, I came home to this beautifully trimmed, well-marbled, nicely tied-up piece of pork shoulder. Of course, it came with a nice price tag as well. :p I felt like it deserved more love than just pulled pork.
I decided to pull out my good old trusted mortar and pestle to make the rub, although my kitchen is equipped with a high-end blender and food processor. I just felt like using my mortar and pestle is the best way to make a rub. You can taste the care, the love, the extra effort of using a primitive kitchen tool to physically pound my garlic and herbs into paste. The process of smashing each ingredient releases so many aromas. My kitchen smelled heavenly without even turning on the stove!
Cooking to me is not just about serving food on the table. It’s really about enjoying, engaging and connecting in the cooking process. Even a simple homemade salad can be truly delicious if you make it with love and care. Using a mortar and pestle and rubbing the paste gently into the pork shoulder is like building a personal connection with it through some very physical “spa treatment“.
Get ready for this succulent roasted pork shoulder! And get ready to get your hands dirty!!!
Roasted Pork Shoulder
Prep time: 10 minutes + minimum 4 hours of marinating
Cook time: 2 hours
Serves: 6 people or 4 hungry beasts
- Small bundle of fresh thymes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon coloured peppercorn
- Pinch of salt – I like to cook with pink Himalayan salt
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 5 pound pork shoulder, pork butt or picnic pork cut
- 2 medium onion, halved then thinly sliced
- 3 medium size apple, cored and sliced
- ½ cup red wine
- ½ cup chicken stock
Please use a mortar & pestle to make the rub, if not, buy a set! Or use your food processor/blender, but it won’t be the same.
- Add garlic, thyme, salt and peppercorn to your mortar and pestle, then grind them into a paste. *Warning, this requires some arm strength*
- Add the dry spices (cumin, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, celery seed) and keep grinding until combined. Then whisk in 1 tablespoon olive oil and achieve a pasty consistency. It should be smooth and glistening.
- Gently rub the spice mixture all over the pork shoulder and let it marinate for about 4 hours or overnight in the fridge!
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place another tablespoon olive oil in a cast-iron pot over medium-high heat until smoking hot. Brown all sides of pork shoulder, approximately 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a board and set it aside.
- Deglaze the pot with red wine, scrape and stir the browned bits from the pan. Once all the alcohol has evaporated, sauté the onion until translucent for about 5-8 minutes.
- Stir in the sliced apples, then push the mixture to the sides and set the pork in the middle of the pot. Pour any collected juices back to the pot.
- Transfer the pot to the oven and roast covered until fully cooked, about 2 hours.
- Rest the pork on a cutting board and cover loosely with foil while reducing down the sauce under medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon to stir and loosen up any browned bits. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper.
- Remove the strings from the pork should and slice into nice thick pieces. Drizzle generous amount of sauce over meat and serve extra on the side.