Crispy Pulled Pork

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Last week I was digging through my overflow freezer and came across a Pork Shoulder that was about 3 1/2 lbs. and I started doing some research for a recipe. When I was opening my e-mails that morning, I remembered a recipe I had seen from my Food 52 daily feed about the 10 Roasts to Cook Now. One of them was a Pork Shoulder. It was a Pulled Pork recipe consisting of a savory paste made with Fennel Seeds, Garlic, Maple Syrup, Pepper and some other ingredients, however it required an 18 hour cooking time. Oh well, I thought not something we will be eating tonight but tomorrow’s dinner would be set. I am so glad I decided to make this because it was fantastic. My kitchen was filled with great smells and we were rewarded with porky goodness that made me forget my notions of becoming a vegetarian. At 16 hours, the roast looked like a large charcoal briquet because the paste that had been slathered on it had dissolved and formed a thick bark all around and the roast was soft and wiggly. I was afraid that more time in the oven would only burn it, so I pulled it out. After shredding the meat with two forks, I served it on Potato Buns with coleslaw and my family said it was the best Pulled Pork they ever had. So with that kind of confirmation, I will definitely make this again. Porkilicious!!!

Crispy pork shoulder
(adapted from a Food 52 recipe)

Serves 4 to 6 to 8

6 to 8 pounds bone-in, skin on pork shoulder
3 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted, crushed
14 pieces garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cups maple syrup
2 teaspoons malt vinegar

After allowing the meat to come to room temperature, use a sharp knife to score the skin, making 1/2 inch stripes over entire surface.

Preheat oven to 450.

Toast fennel seeds in a skillet over medium heat, until fragrant (3 minutes); grind into a powder, set aside.

Place garlic and salt in empty mortar and grind together to make a paste. Slowly add olive oil, then sprinkle in cayenne, black pepper and toasted ground fennel.

Rub about 1/3 of the paste over the skinless side of the meat, then place skin side down on a roasting pan in lower third of oven. Cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile stir the syrup and vinegar into the remaining paste. Turn the oven down to 225.

Carefully flip the shoulder (use a clean towel), then use a rubber spatula to spread the remaining paste over the shoulder, pushing it into the scored skin.

Return to oven and cook for 16 hours or longer (you can put it in the oven at bedtime and leave it in until you serve it as an early dinner the next day, which is what I did.

I found that the skin was crispy and black at 16 hours but if yours isn’t, leave it in for up to 18 hours.

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