Latin-Style Roast Pork

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Submitted by Pr0k

Intro\Prep[edit]

My next-door neighbor is Puerto Rican, so I learned the basics of the recipe from her. I supplimented the recipe Alton-style with a little 'net research and some tips from the old standby Joy of Cooking.

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I started with a pork picnic shoulder, bone-in, skin on, a little over 4 lbs.

Now, my visit to the neighbor this morning brought me some small amount of dismay. The seasoning she used for the outside and for the rice was, as I suspected, full of MSG. I will still eat it at her house, but I don't like using it so I had to improvise a little.

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Sazón Goya, con culantro y achiote, according to the box (it's not on the packet she gave me, but I read the box really quickly) contains: MSG, salt, garlic powder, coriander, some anti-caking agent, cumin, and annatto. I figured I could replace this. (This stuff is used widely in latin cooking though. Every time you get 'spanish' rice somewhere and it's orange, it's likely that this is in it.) Annatto is the stuff that makes it orange. It's used widely as a dye and to color cheese and butter.

Rub[edit]

Anyway, I didn't have any annatto, but I figured even without the orange color I could do something. (Added annatto seed to my next Penzey's order though.)

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I made up this rub:

  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano

Which I figured would do ok.

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I only wound up using about half of it, so I saved the rest for next time.

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Here they are side-by-side. I looked at the Sazón closely and it is mostly MSG. You can tell because they MSG takes the form of little baguette-shaped crystals. I did taste test and compare the two. They are both salty and slightly smoky. Mine is a little spicier, and the orange stuff of course had the KAPOW of MSG-iness that only MSG has. (It's supposedly a flavor unto itself. Remember the tongue diagram that has salty-sweet-sour-bitter they showed us as kids? Wrong. Apparently we can taste salty-sweet-sour-bitter-MSG. Who knew? Is it bad for you? Fuck if I know. I still ain't cookin' with it.)

Here are some pictures of MSG because I can't focus my camera that closely.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand! Savory pork goodness!

Seasoning[edit]

The main seasoning for this roast is garlic and oregano.

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(I wound up peeling another half a bulb of garlic. I was adjusting Joy of Cooking's recipe for a 7 lb shoulder to my four-and-a-quarter-pounder and halved the garlic, which was not nearly enough to my eye.)

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Strip it off the stems.

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Rough chop. About three tablespoons' worth.

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Into the mortar with the garlic, oregano, and a pinch of kosher salt for friction.

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Damn Latin people with their "free time" and "mortars and pestles larger than a thimble."

So I went with the stick blender, also not a great option, should have used a food processor but I didn't feel like getting it out. I moistened the garlic and oregano with olive oil (neighbor's suggestion) and red wine vinegar (JoC) until I could process it into a paste, around a tablespoon of each.

Pork Roast[edit]

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Next, using a boning knife (any small, sharp knife would do) I separated the skin from the meat on both sides of the roast. Not completely of course.

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I also cut a deep, thin pocket in the center of the roast and stuffed in some of the garlic/oregano paste.

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Then I took the rest of the garlic/oregano paste and smeared it under the skin, and over any part of the roast not covered by skin.

The next step is to wrap tightly and refrigerate 24-48 hours. I was hungry. I only allowed about 4 hours.

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Using about two tablespoons of the rub, I coated the skin liberally, and the non-skin portions lightly with rub.

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Into a 325F oven for about three hours. Now here is where I begin to fuck up. When my neighbor makes it, the skin turns out so hard you could conceivably bust a tooth on it. It is very thick and tough, hard to cut but delightful to gnaw on. We like it that way. JoC recommends basting the skin with cold water to keep it soft. I split the difference and put some water in the bottom of the roasting pan to steam it a little. I don't know why, given our preference. Also, the neighbor roasts it with the large open end down, so all the skin is 'up' and cranks it to a broil at the end to crisp the skin. As you can see, I used a rack, assuming that it would keep the meat juicier if it wasn't pointed such that the juice could just run out.

Also, I started drinking during the Pittsburgh game, so there is a dearth of pictures for this section as I forgot to take any.

I roasted to an internal temp of 160F, as Alton recommends, rather then the 185F that JoC recommends. But, I had a problem! The skin wasn't crispy, since, like an idiot, I had basted it (maybe twice.) Roast done, skin not. Ugh! So, while I made a pan sauce from the roasting pan drippings (drippings, pinch salt, cup-and-a-half of chicken stock) I cut some of the skin off the bottom of the roast with shears and used it to cover a non-skin-covered part of the top of the roast. Then I threw it under the broiler until the skin was done.

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So there she is. You can see the separate piece of skin that had been on the top. It was starting to burn, so I pulled it off the top and set aside.

By this time Steelers have won and wife is hungry, so quickly!

Sides[edit]

Beans[edit]

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Reduced and strained jus.

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Black beans inspired by this thread. Much thanks to fender777!

I didn't have dried black beans, but I had a can. Rough recipe:

1 small carrot, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 a red onion, 1/2 a red bell pepper, all cut into a rough brunoise, or 1/4 inch dice. Sweat in 2 tbsp olive oil over med hi heat the carrot (about 2 min) then add the onion/garlic (another 2 min or so), then the pepper (another 2 min or so), then reduce heat to medium, add 2tbsp of the rub above, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, and a healthy shot of Franks red hot. Add a good pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Add one can gently rinsed and drained black beans. Stir gently until everything is seasoned. Add about two cups of chicken stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for an hour or two, reducing heat as necessary so that by the time the liquid is reduced, the rest of dinner is ready. The beans came out very creamy and delicious and were actually the star of the meal.

Kale[edit]

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Kale cooked with a country ham hock, some pepper, garlic powder, salt and a smidge of butter. Simmer 45 min or so (after the hock has already simmered 45 min or so on it's own.)

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Serve with leftover basmati rice! And breasts.

Service[edit]

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Table's set. Where's the beans?

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I am garnishing them with a little green onion top.

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Everything is in readiness, master.

Ok, SO!

The roast was pretty good. Not spectacular. I think dried oregano would have been a better choice. I also shouldn't have basted it at all, and I should have started crisping the skin when the center hit 150F or so, so I could take the thing out at or before 160. The roast wasn't dry exactly, but it wasn't that juicy either. The jus was delicious over it though. I also sliced it too thinly I think. The skin was crisp and delicious. The beans were spectacular. The kale was great.

But hey, it was maybe six bucks for the roast? Picnic shoulders are maybe $1.50 a pound! So I'll be trying again soon.