Roasted Picnic Shoulder with Fingerling Potatoes

Although it’s mid-May, there’s still enough of a chill in the air to turn on the oven without making the kitchen uncomfortably hot. Knowing there would be few opportunities left to make a roast, at least until next Fall, I had my little brother, Stephen the Butcher, bone out a beautiful picnic shoulder of pork. I fantasized about smothering the pork in herbs, drooling before I even brought it home to actually season it.

Picnic shoulder comes from the lower part of the pig’s shoulder. It can be a fatty piece of pork, so be sure to have it trimmed. Picnic shoulder is an inexpensive cut of meat and is extremely versatile. It can be barbecued, braised, roasted, used in stews or kabobs. This is the cut most commonly used for one of my favorite dishes, barbecued pulled pork. Picnic shoulder is also used to make smoked hams and ground pork. In many Spanish-speaking countries, especially those in the Caribbean, picnic shoulder is extremely popular during the holidays and special occasions, used to make pernil, a slow-cooked roast richly seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, a splash of bitter orange, and lots of garlic.

When I first thought about bringing home a picnic shoulder, I immediately thought about making pernil. I could almost taste the succulent pork, which would have tasted even better dipped in mojo. I quickly dismissed that idea, deciding to think outside the box, using some flavors I had never tried before with pork. I came across a recipe for an easier, American-ized version of porchetta, and decided that rosemary and sage were the way to go. It proved to be a fantastic decision.

Roasted Picnic Shoulder with Fingerling Potatoes

Roasting the pork shoulder on a bed of fingerlings results in tender, flavorful potatoes that require almost no work!

Boneless Picnic Shoulder

If you’re uncomfortable boning out a pork shoulder, or any cut of meat for that matter, just ask your butcher. They’ll be more than happy to help!

Prepare to get your hands dirty! You’ll want to rub the seasoning into every nook and cranny of the pork!

Stuffed with goodness, this pork smells delicious before it even goes in the oven!

Pork Crackling is Gooooooood!

Don’t be afraid of roasting this baby at high heat. Keeping the skin on protects the rest of the meat, leaving it juicy and flavorful. The added bonus is the pork crackling, a delicious treat!

Roasted Picnic Shoulder of Pork with Fingerling Potatoes

Adapted from Anne Burrell

What You’ll Need:

For the Pork:
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
20 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 picnic shoulder of pork with the skin, bone removed
Kosher salt
black pepper
 
For the Potatoes:
10 garlic cloves, smashed
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cut lengthwise
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
Kosher salt
1 bundle fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the rosemary, sage, garlic and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Mix with enough olive oil until a paste has formed. Cut the sides of the pork so it opens and lies flat on your cutting board. Rub the paste all over the inside of the pork shoulder, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roll the pork and tie tightly with butcher’s twine.

Place the potatoes at the bottom of a large roasting pan. Season with salt, then toss in the bundle of thyme. Rest the pork roast on top of the bed of fingerling potatoes, making sure the pork skin faces up. Rub the top of the pork with a bit of oil and put in the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes. By this time, the skin should start to become a gorgeous brown color. Don’t be afraid of browned pork skin – it’s tasty!

Add the wine and chicken stock to the roasting pan. Roast for another 2 to 2 ½ hours, basting the skin occasionally with the pan juices. Tent the roast with aluminum foil if you feel the skin is becoming too dark, but be sure to remove the foil during the last half hour of cooking.

Once the roast is done, remove from the pan, cut the string, and let the pork rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the skin and cut into large squares. Slice the pork and arrange on a platter with the fingerling potatoes, making sure to spoon lots of the the pan juices on top. Garnish with pork crackling and serve. Prepare to chow down!

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Mango, Ginger, and Habanero Pulled Pork

Despite the use of “habanero” in its title, this deliciously sweet pulled pork isn’t overwhelmingly spicy. The habanero that simmers slowly along with the pork gives a spicy hint to this addictive dish.

I have to admit, I purposely waited until the husband was away at work to make this dish. Usually, he’ll eat almost anything, but this slow-cooked pork is not one of those things. John is a firm believer that two things should not be sweet — vegetables and meat. I, on the other hand, absolutely love this pulled pork. Even better are the leftovers, which make great sandwiches. Yum.

I usually cook this dish in my Crockpot, but it can very easily be made in a Dutch oven or large pot. I used a boneless pork shoulder for this dish. The sauce is extremely versatile and can be used on chicken or even fish.

Sweet and Spicy Deliciousness

Mango, Ginger, and Habanero Pulled Pork

Adapted from Aarti Sequeira

What You’ll Need:
1 boneless pork shoulder, about 3 pounds, excess fat removed
 
Rub:
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Sauce:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 onion, finely minced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 habanero pepper, sliced down the center, top half together, stem intact
Kosher salt
2 ripe mangoes, pureed
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
 

Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl and massage it into the pork, then set aside. This can be done and refrigerated up to a day in advance.

In a large saucepan (or Dutch oven if you plan on cooking the pork on your stovetop), warm the oil over low heat until hot. Add the cumin and fennel seeds. Keep a lid or shield handy – they’ll splutter upon contact and try to pop out! Once they settle down, add the onions, ginger and habanero pepper. Sauté until softened. Add a bit of salt, to taste. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, then simmer for about 5 minutes.

If using a Crockpot, transfer the ingredients into the pot and add the pork shoulder, making sure to coat it with the sauce. If you’re cooking your pulled pork on the stovetop, add the pork shoulder to your Dutch oven or pot, cover with a lid and gently simmer for about three hours, until the pork starts to fall apart.

Once its done cooking, remove the pork from the pot and shred it. You can use forks or your fingers, it’s up to you! Put the shredded pork on a bun and spoon some of the sweet sauce on top, or eat this deliciousness alongside one of my favorites, Indian Spiced Potatoes. Enjoy!

A Taste of Home

It’s been a while since my first entry. I haven’t lost interest or my passion for cooking, it’s just been hard find time to LEARN to  blog. Honestly, this entire process is new to me. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing how to do something. I’m not tech-savvy, so using WordPress is similar to me learning a new language. Funny enough, during a recent visit to the library, I came across WordPress for Dummies. It was like a sign! I immediately headed to the checkout desk and trotted home with my latest find. Now, I haven’t actually had time to open the book, but I’m sure the day will come. Until then, I’ve been cooking up a storm and wanted to share my latest meal.

When I want comfort food, you know, the type of food that warms you up, fills your belly and makes you want to curl up on the sofa because you’re so full, I usually turn to one of two ingredients: potatoes or rice. Today, it was the latter. I decided to cook up a taste of home and reached down to my Spanish roots. Tonight’s menu consisted of yellow rice, pink beans and roasted pork shoulder with mojo, a delicious garlic sauce. If you’re a fan of garlic, like I am, you’ll want to make this sauce again and again!

Yellow Rice

Arroz Amarillo

Adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce (preferably Goya brand)

1 packet Sazon Goya with Coriander and Annatto

2 tablespoons Goya Sofrito Tomato Cooking Base

2 cups raw extra long-grain white rice (preferably Carolina brand)

4 cups water

In a medium-size saucepan over low heat, heat the oil until fragrant, and then add the Sazon and Sofrito. Heat for about one minute. Add the rice, water and tomato sauce, then raise the heat to high. Cook, uncovered, until all the water has been absorbed and small craters appear on top of the rice, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir with a fork, cover, and cook until the rice is dry and fluffy, 10 minutes.

Pink Beans

Habichuelas Rosadas

1 can (15.5 oz) Goya Pink Beans

2 tablespoons Goya Sofrito Tomato Cooking Base

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce (preferably Goya brand)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 packets Goya Sazon with Coriander and Annatto

½ cup water

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Roasted Pork Shoulder

Pernil

Adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman

One 8 pound leg or shoulder of pork

10 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup Goya Naranja Agria, Bitter Orange Marinade or ¼ cup orange juice combined with 1/8 cup each fresh lime and lemon juice

½ cup dry sherry

The night before cooking, pierce the meat all over with a large knife. In a mortar, combine the garlic, oregano, salt, and cumin, and mash into a paste. Rub the paste well onto the pork, making sure to put some in the slits of the meat. Place the pork into a large pan or plastic bag, whatever you will be using to keep the meat in overnight.  Add the Naranja Agria and sherry, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the meat from the marinade and place in a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes, uncovered. Then, cover the pork and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cook for another four hours. During the last 15 minutes, uncover the pork so the skin will develop a crunchy texture. When it is done, remove the pork from the oven and allow it to sit, covered with foil, 15 minutes before carving. Serve with Mojo.

Mojo

Garlic Sauce

10 gloves garlic

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons Goya Naranja Agria, Bitter Orange Marinade or ¼ cup orange juice combined with 1/8 cup each fresh lime and lemon juice

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small food processor, pulse the garlic and salt until it forms a paste. Slowly add the Naranja Agria, then the olive oil, processing until smooth. This delicious sauce will keep about one week refrigerated, although I doubt it will last that long!