So I like to buy things on sale. There could be worse things in life.
This week, pork shoulder (no skin no bone) was on sale at Tesco, ($1.70 a pound) so I just had to buy and try. I looked up a lot of (American) recipes, and most use a barbeque or a smoker, and also use bone in skin on pork. Suffice to say, after reading most of these recipes it became pretty apparent that slow cooking was the way to go. I bought the pork on a friday to prepare, and things just fell into place after that. I love the idea of cooking something (especially meat) for so long that it falls apart and becomes amazingly butter tender. When you see the piece of meat hopping gently around in simmering cooking liquid, it looks so resilient and steadfast. After having cooked long enough though, a poke with a wooden spoon will send delicious ribbons off the previously impermeable meat.
Now, I looked up the nutritional content of pork shoulder, and it's not the healthiest piece of meat, but you can ask for (and also do it yourself) a defatted/lean piece.
Even though I've lived in Prague for over two years and have been eating Czech food since the age of 1, I never pretend to admit I know how to cook Czech food (except maybe Gulas, but mine is never as good as the restaurants. *sigh*) Anyway, I went with a very very eastern European flavor scheme here. I especially wanted to use these juniper berries I had recently bought at Marks & Spencers. I have GOT to find more recipes with juniper berries, what a lovely little taste they have. So as for the finished result, I wasn't a HUGE fan, but my boyfriend loved it. After a day though, I actually liked it myself a hell of a lot better.
Slow cooked pork
900 g boneless skinless pork shoulder
7-8 cloves garlic
6-7 juniper berries, crushed and minced finely
3 all spice, crushed and minced
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs dried rosemary
1 tbs dried thyme
1 tbs dried sage
generous pinch salt and pepper
1/4 cup pickle juice or 1/8 cup vinegar diluted with 1/8 cup water
2 medium onions roughly sliced
1 large parsnip sliced
Flour for dredging
Water or stock for cooking
Make a paste of the garlic, and next 7 ingredients
Cut slits in the pork shoulder and stuff the mixture in
Rub any remaining paste over the shoulder
Pour the pickle juice or vinegar over the shoulder and turn to coat
Let marinate over night
Dredge the shoulder in flour
Heat a sturdy pot over a burner
Sear the shoulder on all sides
Now, I didn't caremelize the onions, but suppose I should have. I think it would have added delicious flavor. So carmelize your onions and parsnips, my friends.
Deglaze with water, stock, or even a bit o' wine
Put the shoulder back in the pan, and almost cover with stock/water
Cover and simmer on med low heat for about 6-8 hours, or until poking with a spoon makes some of the meat start to slip off itself in shreds. While it's cooking, if you want less liquid, un cover the meat and let some of it evaporate off. If you keep it covered the whole time, it actually ends up being more like a soup/stew. Also, turn the meat occasionally or at least baste the uncovered parts.
Turn off heat
Let sit over night
Reheat on medium low heat
Serve with potatoes or dumplings and sauerkraut
By the way, I think next time, I'd rather cook it in a tomato-y sauce or maybe a mustardy sauce and not do anything to the pork itself. I think it's delicious on it's own, but it's texture lends it more to a thicker clingy sauce.