This is a perfect cut for roasting because it has a lot of marbling to keep the meat tender and moist while cooking; just be sure you get one with a nice cap of fat across the top. This may look like a lot of ingredients, but once you make the herb paste, it’s pretty hands-off while it roasts. Serve with fat asparagus spears, (peeled from tip to end) sautéed in butter and scattered with chopped tarragon and a pile of crispy roasted potatoes.
Serves 6–8 people, with leftovers
1 5-6 pound boneless pork picnic shoulder roast
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole fennel seed
1 small dried red chili, crumbled
5 cloves garlic, minced or grated
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cane sugar
freshly ground black pepper
3 onions, sliced
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup white wine or vermouth
Preheat the oven to 450° and remove the roast from the refrigerator about an hour before you intend to cook it. Toast the coriander, fennel and chili until just fragrant, then grind in a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder. Stir in the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, minced herbs and olive oil to make a paste.
Rub the pork roast with salt, sugar, and lots of cracked fresh pepper, then tie it up with kitchen twine to make it compact and uniform. Using your hands, spread the herb paste all over the whole roast. Scatter the sliced onions on the bottom of a roasting pan, toss them with salt and pepper and settle the seasoned pork roast on top. Heat the stock and wine in a saucepan, pour into the bottom of the pan and place in the oven to roast.
After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 375° and remove the pork from the oven. Spoon some of the accumulated juices over the top of the pork, then return it to the oven and continue to roast for approximately another hour. Check the temperature using an instant-read thermometer, and once the pork hits 150°, remove from the oven and let it rest 10-15 minutes before serving.
Snip the twine and discard it. Slice the pork thinly across the grain; serve with generous helpings of the onion gravy spooned on top.
This story appeared in the Spring 2015 issue.
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, soccer mom, Italophile and managing editor at Edible Boston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.