Cooking this illustrious cut of pork should be reserved for a great occasion, party or feast. It’s probably some of the easiest cooking you’ll ever do – simply source a wonderful piece of quality pork from your butcher and let the oven do all the hard work. I’ve developed this method over many years, using a high temperature at the start to create epic crackling, then cooking at a lower temp to give you melt-in-the-mouth tender meat.
8 HOURS, PLUS RESTING
6 red onions
2 bulbs of garlic
20 fresh bay leaves
1 whole pork shoulder (5kg-7kg)
200ml red wine vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to full whack (240C/475F/gas 9). Place the whole onions and garlic bulbs in a large, deep-sided roasting tray with the bay. Use a clean Stanley knife to score the pork skin all over at 1cm intervals (or ask your butcher to do this for you). Drizzle and rub all over with oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and rub it in well. Sit the pork in the tray, skin side up. Roast for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the skin is crisp.
2. Pour the vinegar around the pork, then reduce the oven to 130C/250F/gas ½ and cook for 7 hours. I don’t baste this cut, as the natural distribution of fat is wonderful, but it is worth adding 250ml of water to the tray after about 2 hours, then checking it every hour or so after that to make sure the base doesn’t dry out or burn, keeping the meat nice and juicy.
3. When the time’s up, the crackling should be super-crisp and the meat beneath should easily pull apart. Carefully lift the meat on to a board to rest. Skim all the fat from the gravy into a jam jar for cooking with another day. Squeeze the onions and garlic out of their skins back into the tray and stir in 400ml of boiling water to create a simple and flavoursome saucy dressing, by scraping up the sticky bits with a wooden spoon.
4. To serve, pull off the crackling, then shred the meat apart with two forks and pour over the dressing. Brilliant as part of a roast dinner, in sandwiches or a part of a buffet. Leftovers are great in a stuffed pasta.
NUTRITION PER SERVING
381 kcal; 28.1g fat (8.8g saturated); 26.8g protein; 5.1g carbs; 3.1g sugars; 0.3g salt; 1.1g fibre
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