Not Bacon, but Totally Related

Not Bacon, but Totally Related

So I know this here blog is supposed to be all about bacon, but let’s be honest. There’s a whole lot more to the proud pig than his delicious belly. One of the most versatile cuts (and my second favorite) is the Boston butt which, oddly, is not from the posterior at all, but is actually a shoulder cut. Butchers! Bunch a jokers, those guys. The butt roast is my first choice for posole and chile verde, and my second choice for carnitas.

Recently my friend Sarah sent me a link to a great gluten-free food blog, Wasabimon! Within a day or two of bookmarking the site, the amazing Stephanie posted a recipe for Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder, and I knew I was hooked. I’m an omnivore, but I definitely have a passion for beautifully cooked meats, and this recipe just screamed my name.

pork-roast-004

Cut to last Friday evening. I came home from work and began the process of grinding and mixing spices for my 7-pound roast. I didn’t have absolutely every spice in my cupboard (never a star anise on hand when I want one), but I made substitutions as needed and still ended up with a wildly aromatic concoction. I followed the slathering, high-heat roasting, rotating and re-slathering instructions, then turned the temperature to 225 and walked away. It didn’t take long for the savory-sweet smell of roasting pork and asian spices to fill the entire house. In fact, I woke up several times during the night, lured from my dreams by the incredible aroma.

I will admit I had a crisis of faith when I woke up in the morning. The exterior of the roast was nearly black, and when I poked it, the outer crispiness worried me. I’d never roasted meat for so long, and I had my doubts about the crust of skin, fat and spices keeping the meat moist. But I knew that Stephanie was a much wiser and more experienced cook than me, and I plowed forward.
Finally at around 4 pm on Saturday, after 22 hours of roasting, I turned the oven back to 450 for a final crisping, then took the roast out. Naseem was coming over for an early dinner, and I was DYING to find out if I would find success under the top rind. Finally, I sneaked a peak by lifing the top layer, and oh…my salivary glands almost exploded at the sight of all that tender juiciness. I don’t have the photographic skills to do it justice.

pork-roast-008After the roast sat for about an hour, I finally pulled the rind layer off and pulled apart the meat. As suggested, I served it with my favorite mashed potatoes. What can I say about this roast? It was  beyond tender. Every bite was moist and salty, with a beautifully contrasting sweet and slightly crispy crust on the edges. Naseem likened it to the Kahlua pork she had in several places in Hawaii. And indeed it was very much like the meat you’d get at a luau, lovingly cooked all day in a killer spice blend until meltingly tender. Just YUM! I will definitely be making this recipe again and again, trying new spice combinations and roasting times. And I’ll be checking Wasabimon! daily for great ideas on how to make gluten-free living more exciting!

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