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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Roast Pork Shoulder, Puerto Rican-Style


  Roast Pork Shoulder, Puerto Rican-Style 
  Originally uploaded by Foodmomiac.

As I get accustomed to living in Chicago, I've been trying to figure out where I'll be doing most of my food shopping. I have yet to make it to the Green City Farmer's Market, though I hope to do so next weekend. It sounds fabulous.

We live about a tenth of a mile from Whole Foods, so I go there quite a bit, but it's ridiculously expensive. I love their cheese selection, and they have non-homogenized millk which is very cool, but I rarely get out of there for less than $50 bucks, and sometimes I'm not getting much food for that money.

I'm also really close to Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's is awesome. I can get juice, milk (homogenized, but organic, and affordable), eggs, cereal, snacks, frozen meals, cheese, etc. I also love the little kid carts that they have. Dylan is much easier to deal with when she has her own cart to push around.

I have yet to explore the ethnic markets. I need to spend some time up on Harlem Avenue - I hear there are some amazing Italian and Polish markets up there. I also have to make a trip to the Spice House in Old Town.

For supermarkets, I've been going to Dominick's. It's about 5-10 minutes from our house and so far I've been thrilled with the quality of food. I'm not a big fan of supermarket meats. I like to get free range, and I usually tend to shop at smaller meat markets where I have a better sense of where the meat has been. However, I have had GREAT luck at Dominick's. Last week we made some killer ribeyes that I purchased there. And, tonight, I made a phenomenal pork roast. And, it was hormone-free meat. Awesome.

This recipe is from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I continue to love this book. Pork shoulder is inexpensive and fatty, so it is a wonderful choice. My theory is that it's cheapness derives from the fact that most people opt for tenderloin or pork chops. Pork Shoulder Roast is just not popular, and price is driven by supply and demand. The fattiness means that you can cook this with minimal fuss and end up with a deliciously succulent piece of meat. These days, pork is rather dry. It used to be a very moist meat, but modern science bred much of the fat out of pigs, yielding low fat pork with no juiciness. Buying a cut that is inherently fatty will help to counter this. (You could also look for a heritage variety pork such as Berkshire - this will be juicier than the supermarket variety.) Anyway, on to the recipe. This will have a permanent place in my repertoire. And it matched up quite well with the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Roast Pork Shoulder, Puerto Rican-Style
Serves: 6-10

4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons peanut (preferred) or any other oil
2 tablespoons wine or cider vinegar
1 (4-to 7-pound) pork shoulder

Combine the first five ingredients in a food processor. Add the oil in a drizzle and process to incorporate it. Stir in the vinegar.

Rub the mixture into the pork, getting it into every nook and cranny. Place the meat on a rack and let it sit, uncovered, for 1 to 24 hours; refrigerate if the weather is hot or the time is greater than 2 hours or so.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roast the pork for about 3 hours, turning every 30 minutes or so and basting with the pan juices, until it is well done and very tender, and the skin is crisp. (The internal temperature should be at least 150 degrees F, but no more than 160 degrees F.) Let the meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting it up; the meat should be so tender that cutting into uniform slices is almost impossible; rather, whack it up into chunks.

Note: I used a smaller cut and just made sure to check the temperature every half hour or so. It took about two hours. I also skipped the basting step with no noticeable bad effects.

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