Monday, January 07, 2008

sunday supper: extreme pork

Can there ever be too much pork? If there could, it would have been last night when I made Pernil, a Puerto Rican-style roast pork shoulder. I saw this recipe in The New York Times last week, from "The Minimalist" Mark Bittman, who I love. The little video made it impossible for me to not make this; that crispy pork skin was calling out to me. It was incredibly simple and yielded an obscene amount of meat, which I'm sure we'll be eating for days.

After looking at Bittman's recipe, I browsed around at other Pernil recipes on the internet to compare. For the most part, his is pretty traditional, although I did do one thing that most recipes called for but he did not. I decided to marinate the meat overnight. I figured it could only make it better. I did find that my sauce was a bit more watery than his appeared in the video. I'm not sure if I just added too much olive oil, but it seemed pretty watery before I even added it, like my onions were watery or something.

One amusing thing about the video is that he had to step away and take a break after processing the onions because his eyes were tearing so badly. Beware - this WILL happen. Pain.

The end result was really fantastic and incredibly indulgent, and the aroma of the pork roasting all day was intoxicating. Crispy delicious skin, moist juicy meat, and enough leftovers for several more meals. I'm already planning on pernil tacos and pork fried rice. But for the first meal, I kept it very simple, serving it with plain white rice and wedges of lime. We really didn't need anything else.

The article and video can be found here. The recipe can be found here. My version with slight variations after the jump:

Adapted from the recipe by Mark Bittman in The New York Times

1 pork shoulder, about 6-7 pounds
4 or more cloves garlic, peeled
1 large onion, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho or other mild chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil as needed
1 tablespoon wine or cider vinegar
Lime wedges for serving

1. The day before roasting, score meat’s skin with a sharp knife, making a cross-hatch pattern. Pulse garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, chili, salt and pepper together in a food processor, adding oil in a drizzle and scraping down sides as necessary, until mixture is pasty. (Alternatively, mash ingredients in a mortar and pestle.) Blend in the vinegar.

2. Rub this mixture well into pork, getting it into every nook and cranny. Put pork in a roasting pan, cover with foil, and refrigerate overnight.

3. The next day, remove roast from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for about an hour before roasting. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Start the roast skin side down, adding a little water to the bottom of the pan to keep the meat moist. About halfway through cooking, flip roast over so that the skin will crisp. Roast pork for several hours (at least 5 for a 7-pound shoulder), until meat is very tender. Finish roasting with the skin side up until crisp, raising heat at end of cooking if necessary.

(If you don't want to attempt to flip such a large roast over during cooking - which can be difficult - you can start the roast covered with foil and leave out the water in the pan, then remove foil for the last hour or so to allow the skin to crisp)

4. Let meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it up; meat should be so tender that cutting it into uniform slices is almost impossible; rather, whack it up into chunks. Serve with lime wedges.

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