Five of us turned up that day (May 1) for our annual potluck and celebration of Spring, along with our dance about the maypole. Usually there’s more of us, but we’ll do as we do.
I made pork picnic roast. Originally I thought crock pot, but I remembered I liked the oven roasted version that I’d made about a year ago, very much. To be honest, I think the shoulder is one of the most flavorful parts of the pig. Others may sing of tenderloin, but I don’t usually find it tender, just sort of dry. At least in comparison. (I guess that’s what comes of it being “the other white meat”.)
The big question is: how did this cut of pork shoulder get its name? I dunno!
Take one 4.5 pound picnic roast (this one was tied around with strings, so obviously the bones were removed). As a note, this roast was obtained from Laurel Ridge Beef in Connecticut, pasture-reared, not from a hog factory somewhere.
The night before:
Thaw (well, okay, thaw before it’s the night before, so it is ready at the night before…). Slit slits into the meat and fat. Take about 4 decent sized-cloves of garlic. Remove paper from the cloves, and slice into slivers. Insert into meat. Insert some, even, into fat side, if you have that on your roast. (I briefly thought about adding cloves, but figured that although the flavor would be good, the actual cloves would end up being a nuisance to retrieve and dispose of before guests bit into them.)
Take one good lemon, and use all its juices, and squeeze over the meat. Remove any errant seeds. Then, include the zest; if the pith is still attached, no worries. Use a goodly amount of black cracked pepper. Use a tasty salt-free “condiment” such as Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, and also put that over the meat. I guess you can use Mrs. Dash, but my one experience with that provided about as much flavor enhancement as adding a homeopathic dose of air.
Okay, marinate in the fridge overnight.
When you are ready the day of your guest arrivals, finish cleaning the bathroom and sponging up as much stray cat hair as possible (since one or two of your guests are feline-allergic), even though this day is beautiful and you WILL be mostly outdoors…
Time to cook the picnic roast:
Turn a burner up to medium high heat. Also, pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Wait till burner heat gets about there.
Put on a good cooking pot, Dutch oven, or something that can stand to be both stovetop and in oven.
Put in picnic roast. Listen to, and enjoy sizzles. Rotate roast accordingly with a good sturdy fork. You want to brown the thing. And, while you are browning, add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds to the bottom of the browning pan/pot, so they can toast in nicely.
Meanwhile, mix (or have mixed) 1 can tomato paste (your choice) with 1 cup of unsweetened apple sauce, [preferably some local or otherwise really outstanding apple sauce, and with 2 cups water. About 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce or preferred equivalent. Or, you can leave out. And about 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Chop up a good large onion, into coarse hunks. Peel a couple large parsnips or so, and chop them into moderately-bite-sized pieces. (I meant to add celery stalks to this, but completely forgot about them… oh well…)
All right: your meat is browned on the outside, and your sauce is made. Coat the meat with the sauce, and pour the rest in around the pork. Add in about 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds and 1/2 teaspoon kalunji seeds (yes, this meal is developing a mildly-Indian motif).
Put the pot/Dutch oven into the oven at the temperature mentioned above. Cook the 4.5 pound shoulder for 2.5 – 3 hours.
Pull out, and serve. The fat on a regular picnic shoulder will keep things moist, and excess can be cut off on the dinner plates. I meant to get a photo of the finished roast before we cut into its tenderness, but we were just so hungry, and, er, well…
This was a big hit, and reconfirms my taste for picnic roast as being right up there with country-style ribs as far as pork goes.
Local foods in this dish: Picnic roast, Apple sauce, garlic, onion, parsnips.
Anyhow, we did have a bonfire of sorts: