I’m going to share with you one of my favourite roast dinners.
Your oven does the bulk of the work while you sleep, and you wake up to the most delicious smells radiating from your kitchen, up the stairs and into your bedroom, converting all in your house into early morning bisto kids.
What is this magic I speak of? Overnight slow roast shoulder of pork. I adore this dish, both for the day that I make it, and also for the leftovers, which are so delicious that they rarely last more than a day or two at most.
Before I go to bed, I start the pork shoulder, roasting it briefly to start the crackling and reducing to a very low temperature, allowing the meat to cook gently while I sleep. I cook it for 12 hours.
You can cook it a bit longer if you like to go to bed earlier too – it can easily take a few more hours and will taste even better for it – at this temperature it is almost impossible to overcook it, as long as you don’t go to extremes.
Pork shoulder is a fatty cut, but don’t let that put you off. Slow roasted as I do here, most is rendered out leaving delicious rich meat and the fat left in the pan will make the best roast potatoes.
Strain it and store it in your fridge if you have any leftovers. The crackling is both tender and crisp, as it gets a quick blast, a very slow roast, and then a quick blast at the end to finish.
Get your butcher to score the skin for you, and ensure that he leaves the bone in, this results in the best flavoured and most tender meat.
On the side? I like – of course – some crisp roast potatoes, cooked slowly in the pork fat, although olive oil works well too.
For best results, cook floury peeled potatoes until just done, then bash them around in the pan so you get fluffy edges. These fluffy edges will become fantastic crisp bits as you roast them.
With the pork itself, I love a spiced apple relish, simply an apple sauce flavoured with nutmeg, chill and cinnamon, with sweet and sour provided by sugar and cider vinegar.
If you are not a fan of chilli, you can leave it out, but I would encourage you to use just a little bit for its fruitiness.
And there you have it, and easy, different and delicious roast.
COMFORT & SPICE
Overnight shoulder of pork with spiced apple relish
This is a great weekend roast. A 12-hour roast results in meltingly tender pork you can pull apart with your fingers and sensational crackling.
I add cider vinegar to the relish as I find its sharpness great with rich pork. It’s sublime in a sandwich (with the meat and crackling) in a fluffy Irish blaa. When thinking leftovers, think fennel, sage, lemon, beans, cabbage and mustard.
3.5–4kg bone-in shoulder of pork, skin scored by your butcher
For the spiced apple sauce
6 Bramley apples
50ml cider vinegar
50g caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks, broken up
1 red chilli, chopped
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
Boil a kettle and place the pork on a wire rack, skin side up, in the sink.
Pour boiling water over the skin and drain.
This puffs up the skin so it’s ready to crackle. Wipe the skin bone dry with kitchen paper. Salt it with coarse sea salt.
Roast for 20 minutes, cover with foil and reduce the oven temperature to 120°C/250°F/gas mark ½. Roast for 11 hours.
Remove the foil, return the heat to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 and roast for 10-15 minutes.
You should have perfect crackling.
Ensure you don’t burn it at this stage and ruin all your hard work! Rest for at least 15 minutes.
The pork will be so tender you can serve it with a spoon.
Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and boil with 50ml water, the vinegar, sugar and spices until the apples are mushy.
Serve with the spices still in.
Tip: the pork fat rendered out in the slow roasting process is terrific with roast spuds. Even better than goose fat, I say. Save it in a bowl or jar in your fridge.
Co. Waterford-born Niamh Shields is a food writer and one of Britain’s best known bloggers. Her blog eatlikeagirl.com is a foodie’s delight. He debut cookbook Comfort and Spice is out now published by Quadrille.