Slow roasted pork shoulder

This beautiful slow roasted pork shoulder forms part of a Christmas day menu, which is listed below. The pork is used to create pulled pork sandwiches – constructed or de-constructed, whatever floats your boat, served with the following accompaniments:

• Crusty artisan bread (or bread rolls)
• French brie (splurge on a really good one, and ensure the brie is taken out of the fridge between 3 and 5 hours before you intend to eat. If it’s really hot, reduce the time out of the fridge. The aim is for it to be really gooey and oozy).
• Pickles (I bought mine from the Bondi markets from some local dudes called Westmont Picklery – they are really good).
• Red cabbage salad (from our cookbook – see page 146). You want something very simple, clean and fresh to cut through the richness of the pork.
• Apple and wholegrain mustard aoili (recipe here)
• Christmas pudding (David Jones has a good selection, including gluten free options, or a good gourmet deli)
• Brandy cream (recipe here)

Ingredients

1 piece good quality pork shoulder with bone in (3 - 4kg will feed 8 - 10 people with leftovers. Ask your butcher to provide the right size for your audience and make sure you ask him/her to score the meat).
2 generous tablespoons fennel seeds
1 generous tablespoon sea salt flakes
1 bunch sage – ½ finely chopped and the other half kept whole
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons sliced
2 bulbs fresh fennel sliced thickly on the vertical
1 red onion sliced thickly
Pepper to season
3 - 4 cups water

Method

Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees.

Combine the fennel seeds and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound to release the aromas. Add the chopped sage and olive oil and mix/pound to combine.

To your roasting pan, add the lemons, fennel and onions.

Rub the underside of the pork all over with the fennel seed olive oil mixture and crack some black pepper over the meat too. Also rub the sides of the meat but avoid the skin.

In a roasting tin or baking tray, line the tray with foil (for tenting) and a sheet of baking paper. On top of the baking paper, add the lemons, fennel and onions with sprigs of the sage leaves. Sit the meat on top of the of the lemons, fennel and onions. Pat dry skin of the meat.

Carefully add the water around the meat and then tent it.

Cook the pork for 8 or more hours. Check it at the 5 hour mark to see if you need to top up with more liquid. If I am serving the meat for lunch, I would put the pork in the oven the night before – any time around 8pm on about 100-110 degrees. When I wake up in the morning, I would take a peek, probably add more liquid and turn the heat up to 150 degrees. Keep checking the meat every 2 hours to see if the liquid needs topping up, as you don’t want it to dry out. When topping up with liquid, boil the kettle and pour from the hot jug. If the top of the meat is starting to look brown then turn the oven down to 70-100 degrees until you’re ready to crisp up the skin.

Provided the meat has been cooking for at least 8 hours, you can take it out of the oven an hour before serving and keep it wrapped in foil.

30 mins prior to eating, unwrap the meat. Turn the oven up to 250 degrees. You want your oven really hot. Pat dry the skin and add about 2 tablespoons of sea salt and rub this on the skin with a little drizzle of olive oil. Pop the meat back into the oven to crisp the skin. If the pan has little or no liquid, add some boiling or hot water – you don’t want to burn the pan or dry out the meat.

After 15 mins check the meat to see if the skin has crisped. If it has to your liking, take it out of the oven. Should you wish for your crackle to be really crispy, remove the skin from the meat and put it in a separate tray or transfer the meat to a board or platter and put the skin back into the pan. Pop back into the hot oven for a further 10-20mins – keep and eye on it – you will know when it’s ready. 

The pork should pull very easily from the bone. You can either make sandwiches using all the accompaniments or eat it deconstructed. Just remember to have a little bit of everything in one mouthful as the flavours all work so well together and is not to be missed!