November 10, 2007
Excerpted from The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2006). Copyright 2006 by Sally Schneider.
Over the years, I've made mental notes of interesting recipes I've read for pork shoulder rubbed with various combinations of garlic and chiles and slowly roasted in a covered casserole until the meat was falling off the bone. The spoon-soft meat was then rolled in tortillas, Mexican style, with cilantro and avocado. An organic pork shoulder at my local market inspired me to finally experiment with the idea. I rubbed the pork in an improvised seasoning mix with the flavors of mole sauce—ancho chile, cinnamon, and clove—and roasted it slowly in a sealed pot. The pork was delectable: succulent, tender, utterly satisfying, a practically effortless way to serve a crowd. If affirmed my love of slow roasting as a great technique for cooking meat.
This recipe is perfect for a casual dinner party or gathering because it's hardly any work, you can make it ahead, and you can't overcook it. To feed more, just cook another pork shoulder or two.
1. Season the meat. In a small bowl, combine the mole seasoning, salt, and sugar. Rub all over the pork shoulder and place on a plate. Marinate for 1 hour unrefrigerated, or 2 to 24 hours refrigerated.
2. Prepare the meat for roasting. Preheat the oven to 275 F. Place the pork in a Dutch oven or deep-lidded roaster just big enough to hold the roast snugly. Scatter the garlic cloves around the roast. Place a large piece of aluminum foil over the pot, then press the lid down securely. Alternatively, wrap the meat in a tightly sealed foil package (make sure the seam is at the top so the juices don't leak out) and place the package in an ovenproof skillet or casserole.
3. Roast the meat. Roast the pork until very tender and practically falling apart, 3-3/4 to 4 hours. Transfer the roast to a platter and cover with foil.
4. Defat the roasting juices. Pour the juices into a sauceboat and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Spoon off the fat that has risen to the top.
5. Serve the meat. Pull the meat apart or slice it across the grain and arrange on a platter. Pour some of the juices over and pass the rest. Save any remaining juices for heating up leftovers.
Mole-Inspired Seasoning with Ancho, Cinnamon, and Cocoa
Makes about 1/3 cup
This mix evokes the flavors of moles, the complex chile-based Mexican sauces. It is especially delicious on pork—roasts, chops, or tenderloin.
In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder and/or pimentÃ›n de la Vera (sweet, not hot), 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1-1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.
For each pound of meat, combine 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated garlic, and 1 to 2 teaspoons spice mixture.
When Marvin Gapultos had a craving for adobo but didn’t know how to make it, he decided to learn his family’s recipes. Since then, he has shared the flavors of Filipino food through his Los Angeles-based food truck The Manila Machine, on his blog Burnt Lumpia, and in The Adobo Road Cookbook.