When I took Arabella to hospital to have her wisdom teeth extracted, her scheduled surgery was delayed leaving me with a couple of hours of boredom. The hospital was down in a ditch so there was no mobile/internet reception and the waiting room was devoid of all reading material except for one magazine. I quickly snatched it and hurried back to Arabella’s room.
I can’t remember what issue of the Women’s Day it was, but in it was an extract from the new Jamie Oliver cookbook. The 12-hour slow-roasted shoulder of pork caught my attention and so I photographed the relevant pages and wondered when I would entertain a crowd of enough people to make justice of five kilos of pork.
Post surgical procedure, I forgot about the recipe.
But Easter Sunday lunch was booked in and there would be 15 around the table and I wondered what I would feed them. That’s when I remembered the shoulder of pork. Sorted.
On Good Friday Arabella phoned me and asked if we were still having an Easter egg hunt. I told her that after 22 years of good and faithful service, it was time to retire the Easter Bunny and that I would just get her a couple of eggs and hand them to her on Easter Sunday. She went into a state of shock. ‘What do you mean we’re not having an Easter egg hunt?’ I will remind you that Arabella is 20.
So, the Easter egg hunt lives on. And on and on.
On Saturday night I prepared the pork then waited until midnight to put it in the oven. It did feel strange going to bed with the oven on. Both young adults were still out and I did worry they would walk in through the kitchen, think it was all a big mistake and switch it off for me.
But that didn’t happen and in the morning the kitchen had a beautiful aroma and lunch was looking promising. It was on with the Easter egg hunt with Archie refusing to get out of bed and Arabella demanding a 10-second head start on the hunt. ‘I’m disabled’, she cried. Yes, and 20 years old.
After the hunt that the Easter bunny had made very challenging by hanging some of the ‘eggs’ high up in the trees, it was back inside to get ready for the lunch. But so much was already done! I’d made the dessert the day before and the meat was a few hours away from being ready.
I cleaned the house and set the table and prepared the potato and fennel gratin that went with the pork, and prepared some green vegetables to steam at the last minute.
I took the pork out of the oven at 12md and let it rest for an hour while I cranked up the heat, put the gratin at the bottom of the oven and the rind on a tray on the top shelf to become crackle. Now…the pork was a little dry but I’m convinced that’s because Jamie said to cover it in two layers of foil. At midnight I pulled the foil from the roll only to find it was at the end and I had no more. The shops were shut and all friends were in bed so there was no chance of getting some more. So my pork barely had a single layer of foil and yet the meat wasn’t too bad; there was just a slight dryness that most didn’t notice.
The gravy was fantastic. All you have to do is strain the pan juices through a fine sieve, pour into a saucepan over medium-high heat and reduce to desired consistency. The gravy has a wonderful flavour because of the vegetables, apples, herbs, spices and cider that cook with the pork.
I love this recipe and can’t wait to cook it again. Of all the ways I’ve enjoyed pork, this would be my favourite. And I do love recipes where a lot of the preparation is done the day before.
Now…about the images…I have a new camera and it’s been working beautifully. But on Easter Sunday something went horribly wrong as everything looked dreadfully over-exposed. I didn’t know what was wrong with it and thought I needed to take the camera back for some urgent repairs. But then I found that someone (and nobody is owning up), had adjusted the white balance to the worst possible extreme setting so all images have a dreadful pink hue. Ghastly. But I thought I’d post the pork recipe anyway however, with the dessert, I’m making the chocolate and cherry cake again and will post with new images.
- 1 x 5kg should of pork, bone in, skin removed and reserved
- olive oil
- 4 onions
- 3 eating apples
- 3 sticks celery
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1 bunch fresh sage (30gms)
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 1 x 500ml bottle cider
- 2 tbsns fennel seeds
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 dried chillies (I used 2tspns dried chilli flakes)
- Pre-heat the oven to 130C.
- Peel the onions and cut into wedges with the apples.
- Trim and roughly chop the celery. Break the garlic bulb into cloves. Scatter it all in your larges roasting tray with the sage and bay leaves, pour in the cider and add a good splash of water.
- Bash the fennel seeds, cloves, dried chillies and 1 heaped teaspoon of salt to a fine dust in a pestle and mortar, then massage all over the pork with a drizzle of oil.
- Sit the pork in the tray, cover tightly with a double layer of tin foil and place in the oven.
- Roast for 10 to 12 hours or until the meat pulls easily away from the bone, then removed from the oven and cover with a couple of clean tea towels to keep warm.
- Increase the oven temperature to 240C (475F).
- Toss the reserved pork skin in a little oil and sea salt (you can either leave as one piece or cut into strips), lay it flat on a tray and roast until perfectly golden and crisp but do keep an eye on it.
We had one of the loveliest Easter Sunday lunches ever and I hope you did too.