I posted this with my sandwich recipe called "The Cuban," but made it again last night, not for Cubans, and decided it's worth appearing here on its own. I use a brilliant idea found in one of Jerry Traunfeld's books on cooking with herbs, to add fresh sage leaves to an ordinary adobo that also uses fresh oregano. As noted in the sandwich recipe, you can add more cumin if you like. The roasting method is based, somewhat, on the one Alice Waters describes in her excellent "The Art of Simple Food." I give the roast and onions about twenty minutes alone together in the hot oven before adding the stock. This lets the onions caramelize a bit. Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
1 3-pound pork shoulder
5 medium garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 ½ - 2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I like Malabar) or white pepper
2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 – 2 cups of chicken stock, heated
3 or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (strictly optional, but nice to serve with the sauce)
Score the pork shoulder a few times about ¼ inch deep on each side.
Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with the salt to make a paste. Add the cumin and sage leaves and pound a few times to mix it into the garlic and salt. Add the pepper and the olive oil and stir to combine.
Rub the herb paste all over the pork should and into the crevices. Some people like to tie their pork shoulders up, but I generally don’t, as I find you get more crispy bits that way. You certainly may, if you wish.
Put the roast in a bowl you can cover or a lidded glass storage container and refrigerate for at least six hours or, preferably, overnight. Bring the meat to room temperature for about an hour before roasting.
Preheat the oven the 375 degrees.
Put the onion slices in a braising pan or Dutch oven. Put the meat in on top of that. Cook for about 20 minutes, then add the stock. It should come up about ¼ of the way up the meat. If it doesn’t, add a bit of water.
Cook the roast for another hour, then turn the roast over. Add more stock or water if what you put in earlier has evaporated. (Some of it will have, no doubt.)
Cook for another half hour, then turn the roast over again and add more liquid if necessary. The onions will have released quite a bit, but depending on how much space there is on the bottom of the pan, it’s not uncommon for the pan to dry out. Add the carrots now, if using.
Return the roast for yet another half hour, then check the meat with a fork. It should be very tender and should pull apart easily. At this point, I usually flip the roast over again and cook it for at least another 15 – 20 minutes. Make sure its internal temperature is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit before you take it out. It probably will be more than that, if your oven is well insulated.
Let the roast sit for at least 20 minutes after removing it, before slicing.
The onions can be pureed with the pan juices, and more stock if you like, using an immersion or other blender, to make a nice sauce for the roast.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)