I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that the last few weeks have been rather stressful. Deadline mayhem to say the least. Although the end is in sight, it does not make it any easier but I find that there are several ways to help de-stress. Shopping for example, there is no better procrastination than online shopping, but it can be quite disheartening to have a swanky new outfit and nowhere to show it off. But at the top of my list is of course, food. During my stressful weeks of essay writing my sole comfort is the delight of home cooking, especially the classic Sunday roast. You really can’t beat it for ultimate comfort food.
I promised my housemates a Sunday roast and after some deliberation I decided on my family’s favourite: Lorraine Pascale’s slow roasted shoulder of pork. Pork is one of the most underrated meats, and also one of the cheapest, so I felt that this would be the perfect recipe.
You can find the recipe online, or you can follow my slightly adapted version right here:
Ingredients (Serves Four):
Approx 1.5kg of Pork Shoulder
2 -3 pears or 2 large cooking apples
1 white onion
5-6 medium carrots
Approx 1kg maris piper potatoes (or simply enough to serve your hungry housemates- roast potatoes are a favourite in my flat so I made more than enough)
1 savoy cabbage
2-3 slices of bacon or pancetta
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Sun flower oil
Salt and Pepper
1. To begin, preheat the oven to 160 degrees while you prepare the pork. Slice your onion and a couple of carrots into chunks and place in the bottom of the roasting tin, this will sit under the pork and help keep the meat moist. Get your piece of pork shoulder and sear the surface. Rub the meat all over with plenty of salt and pepper, as well as crushed fennel seeds. Cover the roasting tin with a lid, or with foil, and place in the oven. Although Lorraine Pascale’s recipe suggests to cook the pork for six hours, I cooked mine for 4 ½ which worked perfectly – so you can adjust time depending on your busy schedule. But I do recommend the longer the better.
2. While the pork is slowly cooking, begin to prepare the roast potatoes. Peel and quarter your potatoes and place in a pan of salty boiling water. Par-boiling your potatoes helps you get that lovely fluffy inside and crispy outer crunch. Boil them until you can just get a knife through them, don’t boil them totally like you do with mashed potatoes. While the potatoes boil away place a deep tray into the oven with a good splash of sunflower oil. Drain the potatoes, and shake them in the colander quite aggressively, but try not to break them. This will help you perfect the lovely fluffy insides. Place the potatoes in the oven for an hour and a half before the pork is ready. They need to be in longer than your usual roast potatoes because the oven is significantly cooler, so bear this in mind.
3. Next prepare your vegetables. Peel and cut your carrots and parsnips, place them on a tray and toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper. The vegetables can go in the oven half an hour after the potatoes. Once the vegetables are in, thinly slice your cabbage and dice your bacon/pancetta into small pieces. What I love about Lorraine’s recipe is the roasted pear. But if you don’t fancy that then you can make apple sauce by cooking diced apple with some water and a bit of sugar. But if you fancy trying out the pear, then peel and slice, and then add amongst the vegetables approximately half an hour before you remove the pork from the oven.
4. Once your pork is ready, you need to take it out of the oven and let the meat rest. So remove the roasting tray, and place the pork on a plate and cover with tin foil. There should a lovely porky stock left in the roasting tin, along with the carrots and onions. Remove the vegetables so you can use the liquid for the gravy. Leave the potatoes and vegetables in the oven while you prepare the gravy. At this point you want to put the cabbage on to boil, while also cooking the bacon/pancetta in a small pan.
5. For the gravy, place the roasting tin over a warm hob and add a table spoon of plain flour into the pork stock, and mix. While this cooks out slightly, prepare some chicken stock. Once the flour has cooked out and thickened the pork stock, add the chicken stock. Mix the liquid and reduce to an appropriate thickness, and then pour into a jug for serving.
6. Now tend to your roast pork. Slice off the layer of fat and gently slice the pork into pieces. You can attempt to make the fat into crackling by coating it in flour, salt and pepper and putting it in the oven. But, I shall admit that I attempted this myself and unfortunately it failed. Crackling is surprisingly hard to master, but don’t let it put you off. Try and trim the fat so that it is thin. That is what I did not do and what my mother claims to be my downfall.
7. By this point the vegetables will be cooked to perfection. You can remove them from the oven and place them in a bowl ready for serving. The cabbage can be drained and combined with the bacon/pancetta, salt, pepper and a dash of butter. Place in a bowl and serve.
So, to help your home comforts craving: These are the instructions of Lorraine Pascale’s perfect slow cooked pork. It certainly went down a treat in my flat and I hope you enjoy it too. I promise it will be a lovely distraction from your work.
All other images are original.