I have two pork recipes I use if I have a pork shoulder or butt: carnitas or milk-braised pork. They’re both great recipes and I doubt we’ll ever get sick of them, especially as they are really versatile and the leftovers freeze great and work with a multitude of subsequent meals. But I had a bone-in pork shoulder roast sitting in my fridge this week, just asking for special treatment. If you’ve watched Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix (which you should!), you’ll know what I mean when I say the idea of a porchetta sandwich was driving me a little crazy. One of my Cook’s Illustrated magazines had a porchetta recipe which I had been eyeing for a while, but I wasn’t up for deboning and fussing over any meat, so I skipped all that and roasted it bone-in. I guess I can’t compare it side by side to a boneless version, but it was incredibly delicious. The fat on the outside gets crispy and all crackling like and just explodes with flavor. It was a smash hit - and pretty simple and straightforward for all that.
This is an intensely flavorful and pretty salty dish so it is well accompanied by basic sides like potatoes, rice, polenta, etc. The leftovers make incredible sandwiches - look for crusty Italian rolls or breads that are on the less salty side. I served mine with caramelized onions and gorgonzola and spring greens.
a 5-7 lb bone-in pork shoulder or butt roast
3 tablespoons fennel seeds, ground fine
1 large handful each of rosemary and thyme leaves
10-12 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup oil
kosher salt and pepper
I started by salting the pork two days in advance, per the suggestion of Salt Fat Acid Heat. I used copious amounts of kosher salt and rubbed it all over the pork, covered with plastic wrap, and stuck it in the fridge to let the salt do its tenderizing and flavorizing.
For the rub: combine fennel, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and oil in a food processor and blitz until a smooth paste forms. Rub all over the pork. If you did not do the salt rub, sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper and massage into the pork. Cover and let refrigerate for at least 8 hours but preferably 24.
Take the pork out 1-2 hours before cooking time to take the chill off.
Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and oil lightly for easy clean up. Place the pork on the sheet with the fatty side up (if there is a more fatty side.)
Roast for 20 minutes at 450 and then turn the oven down to 325 and roast until meat registers 180. This takes 3-4 hours so start checking after three hours.
Let rest for 15-20 minutes, then transfer to a carving board, slice, and enjoy!
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated