I cannot believe I have never posted this recipe! I searched my recipe index but couldn’t find it anywhere, even though it’s a big favorite of both friends and family for years. This dish will give you days of leftovers for pulled pork, carnitas, BBQ pork sandwiches, tacos, etc. And if you are feeling, like I am, sightly depressed…it will make your kitchen smell like a warm hug (something in short supply at the moment). Now is the perfect time to cook something that takes most of the day in the oven, where else are you going to go? Don’t make this in the slow cooker, it will not be the same. You could make it in your instant pot, you would need to crisp it in the oven after. But why? Use the low oven method unless it’s 4 pm and the zombies are at the door (instant pot options at the end), I encourage you to embrace slow oven cooking for this if at all possible.
If you want it have dinner at 6 pm, you need to pop it in the oven right after your Zoom workout or the first conference call of the day at 9. Rub it down with the spices and put it in the roasting pan at 8 am while you are having your second (maybe first these days) cup of coffee. Let it rest at room temperature on the counter until you have finished your workout or your call. At that time preheat the oven, and put the pork in the oven (uncovered) at 10:30. Forget about it all day (you won’t be able to ignore the aroma coming from your oven). It will be ready at 5:30, enough time for it to rest. Resist the urge to steal crispy bits before dinner is officially served, I usually can’t.
You will have the entire day free. Time to deal with home schooling, your toddler, the garden, and/or work.
The original idea for this recipe came from Michael Chiarello’s cookbook Casual Cooking, published in 2002. He was named Chef of the Year by the Culinary Institute of America and Food & Wine Magazine. Founder of the Tra Vigne Restarurant in St. Helena, CA (in the wine country).
I have dramatically simplified his recipe except for one thing, the amazing mixture of spices that he uses. Toasted Fennel Rub is my absolute favorite spice mixture in the whole world. You don’t need to use it though, use any beloved spice rub of your own. I just happen to have this on hand most times and often give it as a present to friends. I’ve modified it with the addition of some heat. But, use what you have. Any BBQ rub would be excellent, what about taco seasoning, or chili powder with some added salt? Do not fret about it. The trick is the slow roasting which transforms the pork into a meltingly tender piece of meat with a crisp layer of fat on the outside.
- One pork shoulder roast (mine was bone-in, about 5 1/2 pounds)
- Enough rub to coat all sides of the roast (see the recipe for fennel spice at the bottom of this post)
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
- Rub your spice mixture of choice (see Fennel Rub below) over all sides of the roast
- Place the pork, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan or other dish (there may be quite a lot of fat, so a deep one is best). Line it with foil for easier clean up.
- Roast, uncovered, for 7 hours.
- Let the roast rest for 20 minutes, then slice or shred.
Note: If you don’t have a rack of the correct size for your pan, make one with halved onions or whole carrots or crumbled foil.
Here it is after 7 hours, juicy and ready to shred. As usual, I couldn’t stop the fingers from pulling off crispy bits before we were ready to eat dinner.
It was easy to shred. Served with roasted asparagus, avocado, pickled cabbage, shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa.
We have some really amazing leftovers for the week. Stay tuned for some ideas.
Enhanced Fennel Rub
- 1 cup fennel seeds
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons white peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- My additions:
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup chile powder (use something on the sweet rather than on the hot side, or leave it out)
- 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
- Place a dry small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel, coriander, peppercorns and cumin seeds (if using). Continually stirring, roast until light brown and the smell is amazing.
- Turn your oven fan (high), add the chile powder and red pepper flakes. Continue to stir (it will smoke) for a few more seconds. Then remove from the heat and immediately turn the spices out onto a large plate to cool.
- Once cool, add the salt.
- Grind in your blender, mini food processor, or spice blender to a powder. There will still be some whole spices that won’t be completely ground, that’s okay.
If you want to make this in an electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot, here are some suggestions. After you coat the pork with your spice mix of choice, brown it on the saute setting in the pot or in a large skillet. Then add 1 cup of broth (chicken or vegetable), set the machine to high pressure and cook for 60 minutes, then turn the machine off and let the steam naturally release for 30 minutes. You won’t get that amazing crust, or a whole day of comforting aromas, but you will have dinner on the table for hungry mouths much faster.
Stay well everyone, stay safe, and please stay in touch.
I am going to take this dish to Angie’s at Fiesta Friday #321. Please come check out the virtual party on her site. The cohosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and, none other than myself: Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons
And if you would like to join us, link your post to FiestaFriday.net and/or the cohost(s), so you can be featured.
And if you would like a chance to be featured next Friday, please read the guidelines.