Many years ago, on a lazy Saturday afternoon we were watching a cooking show to relax and pass the time. A wonderful chef by the name of Lidia Bastianich was making a roast pork shoulder. By the end of the show my mouth was watering and I couldn’t wait to get the ingredients and make it!
As with all things I cook, I tend to make adjustments. I find ways to make it my own and the way I would want to eat it. This recipe is no different. My biggest change was removing the carrots to eat on the side and then taking pan juices and most of the remaining vegetables and using a hand blender to turn it into a thick gravy. OMG. It is SO good.
A few notes on the roast – pork shoulders (also called butts or Boston butts) are terrific roasts, in my opinion, more delicious than pork loin and definitely less expensive. With a nice layer of fat on top, a good proportion of fat through the muscle, and lots of connective tissue, the roasted meat has wonderful flavor and soft, moist texture. It’s easy to roast—you don’t need to erect a foil tent for it—and the shoulder blade bone, which adds flavor and speeds roasting, is simple to remove when you’re serving the meat. Shoulder roasts range from 4 to 8 pounds, bone-in, or larger. This procedure will work for any size roast, though the vegetable and seasoning amounts are for a 5 to 7 pound shoulder, the size you’ll usually find in the butcher’s case.
5 to 7 lb pork shoulder (butt) roast, bone-in
1- 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt or crystal kosher salt
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
For the pan and sauce: vegetables, seasonings and broth:
4 medium onions, peeled and chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound bag of baby carrots (or regular carrots cut in pieces)
2 medium leeks (including green trimmings) rinsed, split and chopped, 1/2-inch pieces
3 celery stalks and leaves, rinsed and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup dried porcini mushroom slices, crumbled or chopped in small bits (about 1/2 ounce)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
1 Tbs fresh rosemary sprigs, stripped from the branch, packed to measure
2 large bay leaves
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt or less
1- 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 cups or more Turkey Broth, Simple Vegetable Broth, or water
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400.
2. Rinse and dry the roast; leave the entire layer of fat on the top. Place it in the roasting pan and sprinkle salt on all sides, patting the crystals so they stick to the meat and are evenly distributed. Pour on the olive oil and rub it all over the roast. Set the roast fat side up in the center of the pan.
3. Scatter all the chopped vegetables and seasonings—except the remaining salt—around and toss everything together with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. If you are using water as cooking liquid, toss 1 teaspoon salt with the vegetables; if using broth, less or no salt is needed, depending on the saltiness of the broth. Pour the white wine and 3-4 cups broth (or water) into the side of the pan so the cooking liquid is coming up around all the vegetables.
4. Set the pan into the oven and roast for an hour, then open the oven and bring the roasting pan up front, turn the vegetables over, and rotate the pan back to front, for even cooking.
5. Roast for another hour or hour and a quarter: the internal temperature should be 170 degrees or a little higher. The meat should be browned all over with dark edges; the top should be crisp and caramelized. There will still be a considerable amount of juices in the pan and the vegetables should be cooked through and lightly browned.
6. Turn the oven off. Lift the pork out of the roasting pan with a large spatula or fork wrap it in foil while you start the sauce. If it’s not going back in the oven, set the roast on a warm corner of the stove or you can put it on a baking sheet back in the oven to keep it warm.
7. Remove the carrots and some pan juices and put in small sauce pan to keep warm on a back burner.
8. Take the onions and mushrooms and put in a large sauce pan. Pour the remainder of what’s left in the roasting pan through a sieve into a large bowl. Press the solids against the seive with a big spoon to release their liquid, then discard them. Pour the liquid into the pan with the onions. Using a hand blender, blend the onions until you have a thickened sauce. Set the saucepan over high heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer and thicken. If you like a little thicker gravy, mix a spoonful of cornstarch in warm water and mix into the gravy.
9. When the gravy is ready, remove the roast from the oven. I like to remove the blade bone which is visible on the side of the roast. Insert a long knife blade into the meat so it rests on the flat bone; draw the blade along the bone, following its contours and the meat will lift off. Arrange the boneless pork on a warm serving platter.
10. Serve the roast and carrots with gravy. I often pre-roast some baby gold potatoes to go with the meal.