BackgroundBack in the day, a pig would be killed in the autumn as the weather turned cold. Neighbours would come to help and bring a bag of salt. The farmer would slaughter the pig himself or a journeyman butcher would be booked to do the deed. After the pig was eviscerated and the hide scalded to remove the bristles, almost every part of the pig would be used. Before there was any refrigeration, the whole pig had to be used up fairly quickly or it would spoil. That is how salting and smoking became part of the process. The blood would be used for puddings, and the intestines cleaned out and used as casings. Everyone got a share of the pork and the sausages and in another few weeks someone else would slaughter a pig and the share out would continue. It is a terrible pity we seem to have lost our connection to where our food comes from.
Great tasting meatWe roasted a shoulder of pork this week, no fancy rubs, just salt and pepper, no smoking, just plain slow roast. I have to say this is the nicest piece of meat I have eaten in a long, long time. A great value cut, quite inexpensive, needs about 5-6 hours, but it is really worth it. After that cooking time, the meat basically falls off the bone and is juicy, tender and has a fabulous flavour.
Talk to your butcherYou will need to go to your local butcher, because the supermarket won’t have this cut. Ask your butcher to score the skin for you so when it is cooked you can break off the crispy crackling (worth the price of the pork on its own). It is a big piece of meat, up to 6lbs or more, but you will get 3 to 4 meals out of it. After the pork is cooked you will have a lot of fat and liquid. Save the liquid for gravy and stock, and you can cook roast potatoes in the fat (I told you it was a great value cut). There are many recipes for this cut but I will give you two : my simple favourite and one with a rub and a sauce. Both delicious.
- Heat the oven to 180C.
- Put shoulder on a tray with onions halved and whole peeled carrots underneath to make a trivet.
- Cook for an hour at 180C and turn oven down to 125C for about 4 hours. Turn up the heat to 180C for the last 45 minutes to crisp up the skin.
- After the cooking time is done, take the shoulder out of the tray and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Discard the vegetables from the tray and strain the liquid.
- Take off the skin and cut into smaller pieces.
- The meat will come away from the bone and you can cut it with a butter knife.
- Serve with roast potatoes, mashed potatoes to mop up the delicious gravy, carrots, kale or your favourite vegetables.