Monday 13 May 2013

Potted Pork Shoulder with Green Peppercorns, from the leftovers of a roast

Potted Pork Shoulder with Green Peppercorns, from the leftovers of a roast
A generous handful of green peppercorns adds bite.
Every now and then I slow-roast a hefty shoulder of pork, because this is a joint that's still relatively affordable, and because brittle golden crackling is such an old-fashioned treat.  Mostly, though, it's because I crave the toothsome stickiness of tender, fall-apart pork.

There are usually plenty of leftovers the next morning: my kids aren't enthusiastic about pork, although they will politely eat it if there are also roast potatoes and gravy on offer.  I slice up the cold wodges and slap them between slices of fluffy white bread, with plenty of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and shredded iceberg lettuce, or I heat them up in the microwave with leftover roast potatoes to guzzle on my own when I need to grab a quick lunch.  But my favourite use for the remainders of a pork shoulder is this  indulgent dish of potted, shredded pork with green peppercorns.

The best potted pork, in my opinion, is made with good pork belly - here's my recipe - but this is also a fine way to use up the leftovers of a roast shoulder.  It keeps well in the fridge for up to a week, and is heavenly spread on hot toast or toasted ciabatta slices.

For instructions on how to slow-roast a shoulder of pork and make crackling, please see my Cook's Notes at the end of this blogpost.

It may seem laborious to make a stock for this dish, but I don't find it much of a hassle, as stocks tend to look after themselves once you've flung them together, and this flinging-together really need take no longer than the time it takes for the kettle to boil.

I can't give exact quantities here, because this will depend on how much left-over meat you have.  This is a recipe that involves a lot of tasting, and not much measuring.

Potted Pork Shoulder with Green Peppercorns, from the leftovers of a roast
Serve the potted pork with hot toast or ciabatta bread, and some capers, caperberries or gherkins.

Potted Pork Shoulder with Green Peppercorns, from the leftovers of a roast

leftover roast pork shoulder, still on the bone (see Cook's Notes, below)
4 Tbsp (60 ml) butter
a large sprig of fresh thyme
a few tablespoons of green peppercorns, drained, and to taste
a pinch or two of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and milled black pepper, to taste

For the stock: 
one large onion, skin on, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
2 cups (500 ml) water
2 bay leaves
a big sprig of thyme
10 peppercorns
a few stalks of parsley

Heat the oven to 200 ºC. Strip most of the meat off the joint, leaving behind the fatty bits and any pockets of meat close to the bone. Put the stripped-off bits on a plate, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate.

Place the bones in a roasting pan and add the onion and carrots, along with any left-over crackling.  Roast the bones and vegetables for 20 minutes, or until they have a nice golden colour. Put the roasting pan onto the hob, turn on the heat and add the wine, water, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and parsley.  Bring to the boil, stirring well to dislodge any residue on the bottom of the pan. Now tip the contents of the roasting pan into a stock pot, place over a low heat and simmer, uncovered, at a gentle burble, for 2 hours, turning the bone over now and then. Strain the stock into a bowl and discard all the solid bits. Return the strained stock to the rinsed-out pot, cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.

Lift off all the solidified fat from the surface of the stock - which with any luck will have jellied by now -  and place the pot back on the hob. Cook over a lively heat, uncovered, until the stock has reduced to about a cup of liquid.  Strain this through a fine sieve and set aside to cool slightly.

Tear the reserved stripped-off meat from the joint into shreds and place it in a bowl.  Strip the leaves off the thyme sprig and add these to the bowl along with the green peppercorns (again, I can't give you quantities here, but be generous, and reserve a few for scattering on top).  Season with nutmeg - just a whisper -  and with salt and plenty of black pepper.  Mix everything together and pack the meat into a pâté or terrine dish, or into several small ramekins.

Press down firmly on the surface of the meat to level the surface, but don't pack it in too tightly, or the stock will not seep between the shreds of pork. Trickle some of the still-warm stock over the meat so that it is well moistened, but not drowned in stock (the liquid should be just level with the surface of the meat).  Refrigerate until the stock has jellied.

To seal the potted meat - which will make it last longer in the fridge - melt the butter in a saucepan and skim all the white foam off the top. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for a few minutes, and then strain through cheesecloth or a fine sieve onto the top of the potted belly. Press a bay leaf or a sprig of thyme on top, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate.

Serve with hot toast.

Cook's Notes

To slow-roast a shoulder of pork: 

1. Ask your butcher for a whole, untrimmed pork shoulder, on the bone. This is important, because butchers sometimes 'neaten' the shoulder and remove some bones, but what you want is the Full Monty. Ask him to score the skin into 1-cm-wide strips, or do this yourself at home using an extremely sharp craft knife.

2. Heat the oven to 130 ºC.  Place a layer of thickly sliced carrots, onions, celery, lightly crushed unpeeled garlic cloves, and herbs of your choice on the bottom of a heavy roasting pan. Perch the pork, skin-side up, on top.  Pour 250 ml wine (or cider, or apple juice) into the roasting pan, cover it with two layers of heavy-duty tin foil, and bake undisturbed for 3-4 hours (depending on the size of the shoulder) or until the meat is so soft and tender can be pulled apart with a fork.  Alternatively, you can set the oven to a very low temperature - 100 ºC - and bake the pork overnight.

3. To make crackling: Take off the tin foil and turn the top grill on to its highest setting. Peel the skin off the shoulder in one piece and place it, fatty side down, on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the skin generously with salt.  When the grill is glowing red, put the baking sheet into the oven, 15-20 cm below the grill.  Leave for 8-10 minutes, or until the crackling is golden, crunchy and blistered.  Watch the crackling like a hawk: it burns in an instant. If it shows any signs of catching or charring, turn the grill down a little, or move the rack down a notch, but don’t remove the skin from the oven.

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Kit said...

I like the sound of this - would be wonderful to have a delicious snack like this in the fridge all week. I hardly ever roast pork as my kids, like yours, are rather unenthusiastic about it, but I do love crackling.
The slow roasting sounds like the way to go, but I only have one oven, so doing the roast potatoes would be a problem... unless I took your suggestion of baking it slowly overnight and then let it sit for the hour while the roast potatoes were doing? That might work. Maybe I'll inflict a pork joint on them one of these days and try it out.

Kimberly @ Turning the Pages said...

I love roast pork so I'm definitely going to be giving this a try.

Unknown said...

Yum Yum, you should try and do a gourmet trip through South Africa and blog about that. That would also be super interesting...