The best meat is often the cheap cut cooked slowly with low heat. The connective tissues and fat melt through the muscle and make it tender and delicious.
This recipe is decidedly unkosher, due to it being predominantly pork. Beef could be substituted, but you’ll find it more rewarding to reconsider the necessity of a kosher diet in your life.
Plan to do start this forty-eight hours before you want to serve it. Total time hands-on is low, maybe an hour tops.
- Pork Shoulder Roast (or Butt or Boston Butt – why it’s called these things is a mystery that the Internet could solve but I don’t really care), preferably bone-in. Can’t find one with the bone in it? Shop somewhere else – seriously, stop going to that store, they suck.
- White wine, not too sweet, not oaky – I used Vino Verde, a Portuguese varietal that is fruit without being cloyingly sweet. Mineral-y would also be acceptable. Chardonnay is right out.
- Apples, granny smith
- Onions, yellow
- Fennel bulb
- salt, pepper
- roasting pan – needs walls
- cast iron or other heavy, not-nonstick, skillet
A day ahead of time: dry off the roast with paper towels, rub with salt and pepper. I also used fennel seeds. Rosemary would probably be a nice addition as well. Take a skinny knife (paring, table, whatever) and stab holes in all sides of the pork, fill each hole with a garlic clove. Cover, refrigerate, go to bed.
9PM (the next day): preheat oven to 200°F. Preheat cast iron (or other heavy skillet (NOT a nonstick!)) over medium-high heat. Take the pork out of the fridge and uncover it. Roughly chop the apples, onions and fennel bulb. Pour yourself a glass of wine.
Is your skillet hot? Sear the pork on all sides until golden to dark brown. Hotter is better but not so hot you’re burning it and filling your hoodless home with smoke. Place in the pork a pan (fat cap up), pour some wine into the searing pan and scrape up (deglaze) the bits – pour them into the pan with the pork. Set aside to wash later, probably tomorrow.
Throw the apples and onions and fennel into the pan, make sure some of each are on top of the pork. Pour wine into the pan until it’s 1/3 of the way up the pork. Why? Moisture and flavor. TIGHTLY wrap the pan with foil. If you need to wrap foil around the entire pan.
Put the pan in the oven. It’s 10PM or so. Drink the rest of the wine and then go to bed.
The next morning: you will have dreamt of delicious smells, probably because your house smells delicious right now. Check the pork by sticking a fork in it and twisting a bit. Does the meat shred? DONE. If not, go back to bed (Either way, rewrap the pan). When the pork is falling off the bone turn off the oven and prop the door open. (If the meat shreds it is safe to eat, even if pink. If cooked at a low enough temperature chemical reactions don’t take place and the meat might stay pink). When you can grab the roasting pan without burning yourself move it to the refrigerator. When it’s chilled scrape what excess fat you can off the surface of the liquid and pork.
Reheat and serve. Everything except the bone is edible. Even that can be consumed if your teeth and will are strong enough, but throw it in a ziploc in the freezer to add to your beef/lamb stock at a later date.