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ORIENTAL ROASTED PORK SHOULDER

March 7, 2010

Continuing from my last post on cheaper cuts of meat, I pounced on the chance to cook pork shoulder which was on special offer at the supermarket (£3/kg). Picked a large chunk of meat with a decent layer of fat on top. To do this piece of porcine delight a ton of justice, had to refer to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s highly recommended book written about all aspects of meat production and cooking called “The River Cottage Meat Book“. He’s such an informative, personal writer and very charismatic in educating his readers, I urge you to check him out.

Pork is a favourite of mine to cook from ribs to chops to belly as it has a kind of sweet flavour and those cuts with a good layer of fat will be enhanced in taste and kept moist. I was really pleased when a while back, Jamie Oliver promoted British pork to the public in his TV series “Jamie saves our bacon“, encouraging us to seek out cheaper cuts including belly and shoulder to keep our pork industry alive and kicking. Apparently, shoulder, belly and neck fillet are not very popular in the UK (gasp!) and the majority exported abroad. Such a pity as these are good value for money considering we’re trying to ride out the recession. Another reason is that British pork has been reared to much better welfare standards with a very low rate of castration compared to our European neighbours. Poor piggies enduring badly treated lives…I feel so much better when I know they’ve lived a happy life before they ended up on my plate.

I’ve chosen Hugh’s “aromatic shoulder of pork Donnie Brasco” recipe, great name Hugh! It looked simple to prepare and is slow roasted overnight to promote a meltingly tender joint with time to allow the flavours to permeate throughout.

Oh God, it made me feel sooo hungry and my belly juices were growling in anticipation!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a whole shoulder of pork on the bone so had to settle for a much smaller boneless piece to cook. Think I’d have to order it in advance from the butcher plus I’d need a trolley to transport it home! That meant cutting the roasting time as didn’t want to dry out the meat so I’ve adapted Hugh’s recipe. Made the marinade but couldn’t make the five-spice mix fresh so substituted a ready-made mix. Had some marinade left over so stored that in an air-tight pot to use another time. Wanted to make sure that the oriental flavours would infuse the meat so marinated this overnight. As the crackling looks overdone in my photo, will have to keep an eye on it next time I cook this, especially at the initial high heating stage in the oven. After slow roasting the pork, carved this up and served with roast potatoes, fried shallots and fine green beans, fabulous for Sunday dinner. Underneath that crispy dark brown skin, had to indulge in a lot of extremely juicy and tender flesh flavoured with hints of spice so hooray to me for being a carnivorous lady tonight!

Oriental roasted pork shoulder

Serves 6

Boneless pork shoulder (mine weighed 1.8 kg)

5 large garlic cloves, peeled

5cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled

2 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil

1 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp five-spice powder


  1. Score the skin of the pork shoulder with a sharp knife in parallel lines about 1cm apart, without piercing the meat (or ask your butcher to do this). Then score in the opposite direction forming a criss-cross pattern.
  2. Put the shoulder in a colander and pour boiling hot water over the skin which should tighten it. Then pat dry and leave uncovered in the fridge for 2 hours. This should help to dry the skin out and aid the crackling process later.
  3. Grate the garlic and fresh ginger into a small bowl and mix to a paste with the chilli flakes, ground ginger, brown sugar, salt, oil, soy sauce and five-spice powder.
  4. Place the pork shoulder, skin-side up, on a plate. With your fingertips, rub just the spice paste into the scored skin of the pork. Turn over the shoulder and rub more paste on the underside so that the meat is covered completely. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
  5. Take the pork out of the fridge, unwrap and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to take the chill off. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celcius/Gas Mark 7. Place the joint in a baking tin in the centre of this very hot oven for 20 minutes to heat the fat up under the skin and form the crackling (Hugh calls this the “half-hour sizzle”). You’ll see the skin puff up and brown.
  6. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees Celcius/Gas Mark 3 and roast for 2.5-3 hours or until cooked and baste with the fat and juices in the tin occasionally. If the crackling is not crisp enough, then turn up the heat to 220 degrees Celcius/Gas Mark 7 again to crisp up the crackling for 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn!
  7. Leave to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place before serving.
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