Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oink If You Love Pork Shoulder

This is a little gross: When my family gathers in our multitudes for a special dinner, we sometimes start the meal by "calling the hogs to dinner." With forefingers, we push our noses up to resemble porcine ones, warble like hog callers, "Sooo-eeee!" and make snorty pig noises. Then, we all laugh uproariously and dig in.

I have no idea how this got started in our normally rather buttoned-down family or why in heavens name we continue it - it's one of those inexplicable cultural family things. Practicing this strange ritual unites the group and makes us all feel like we belong. Woot!

I'm always tempted to do it when I make pork shoulder - it's the perfect meal for such a crazy ritual - but the ceremony is really only fun done in a good-sized group where everyone has lost their inhibitions and is willing to get down and be silly.

For once, I didn't consult even one cookbook or online resource, I just went hog wild with the flavors in the crock pot, merrily adding just about anything that came to hand and sounded good to me that day. The result was a truly scrumptious meal of meltingly soft but tangy pork thanks to the vinegar, red yams and onions with contrasting sweetness, with undertones of fruit, citrus, herbs and spice. As usual, perhaps the best part of the whole meal was the goozle in the bottom of the crock pot, which I ladled over everything on the plate save the broccoli.

I'd make this again and, in fact, we are eating it again this evening, rewarmed in the same crock pot. A two-pound pork shoulder roast makes plenty for the two of us for more than one meal and I'm thinking it will make the basis for some killer pulled pork sandwiches later in the week, as well. I also plan to use whatever goozle is left in making some kind of a bean soup - it's just too, too delicious to toss away. Belly up to the trough and join in the fun - this dish is truly "pig heaven."

Pig Heaven

1 pork shoulder roast, perhaps 2 pounds
1-2 tsp ground allspice
1 Tbs dry mustard
1 tsp lemon pepper
3-4 generous pinches of Herbes de Provence
a glug of apple cider vinegar (to taste, but don't go crazy)
a splash of water if it all seems too dry
juice of 1 tangerine
juice of 1 meyer lemon, plus the finely grated zest from the lemon
2 red yams, cut in 2" rounds
1 large slivered onion, i.e. an onion halved, then halved again and again, creating slivers of onion and keeping the stem end attached (I don't know why but this makes the onion taste different than chopping does)
1 peeled apple

Brown the pork shoulder roast well over medium high heat in a frying pan. Remove the meat to a large crock pot. Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar and add that to the crock pot with all the other ingredients. You can mix the liquids first, add the herbs and spices to the liquids and then pour it all over the veggies and meat but, truth be told, I just threw things in helter skelter, squeezing the citrus directly into the pot and shaking the dry ingredients in on top, and it turned out great. Set the crock pot to low if you have all day (8 hours). If you have only half a day, set it to high. Put on the lid and leave it to its magic, returning once or twice to turn the meat in the goozle and resettle the veggies during the cooking period. The meat will be falling apart and impossible to make into tidy slices. The apple will have dissolved into the goozle and the yam will be soft, almost melty. Separate the chunks with a fork, plate them alongside a round or two of yam, and nap it all with the goozle from the pot, making sure each plate gets some of the onion.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Chilebrown said...

I have never met a pork shoulder that I have not liked. My crock pot may have to be dusted off and taken for a spin after your inspiration.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010  
Blogger Rev. Biggles said...

I did something almost, nearly similar a week ago, the pictures are ready to post! But have been on Mold Patrol for over a week now and haven't had the time.

I made tacos with my crocked pork shoulder.

xo, Biggles

Tuesday, January 26, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Chilebrown, hope you like yours as much as we liked ours.

Rev. Biggles, your pictures will be better than mine. Sorry about the mold - ugh! And, yes to tacos made with the shoulder! Gotta get some tortillas for my leftovers!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I am so close to defrosting the pig shoulder and doing the crock pot treatment. Thanks for your detailed how-to.

I'm having vegetarian tostadas today, but some pork shreds would be super there.

Winter is useful! We sit at home, locked in by miserable weather, and we eat hearty stuff.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

Oink!
Your hog call sounds a lot like my bush pig squeal (which is not a nice thing to do, unlike your tradition!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, lucky you, to be able to stay indoors - I think I'm growing mildew all over myself.

Morgan, next time we get together, let's exchange pig noises. Bonding. xo

Wednesday, January 27, 2010  

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