Tender pork to pull apart

Cooking a pork leg or shoulder can be tricky because the fat surrounds - rather than marbles - the meat, so once that fat is removed the pork can dry out during cooking.

This spice-coated pork cooks slowly to a succulent tenderness totally enveloped in a fragrant, moist and steamy atmosphere inside an oven bag.

Smoked paprika, cinnamon, ginger and chilli all contribute to a flavour-packed kick, with lemon and lime juice adding an extra intensity.

While this is not speedy to cook, it is amazingly accommodating. All it requires is about 15 minutes’  preparation the night before or early in the day, leaving you free to do other things while it cooks  in the oven for several hours. Buy more than you need as it is fantastic cold.

The long, leisurely cook produces a meltingly tender, pull-apart piece of pork.

Sometimes I serve this as a “roast”, but the meat is so tender that it falls off the bone and will not carve into neat slices. I don’t think this matters. I serve it in rather raggedy pieces, accompanied by potato mash plus a green vegetable or salad and the sauce makes a delicious gravy. However, pork cooked this way is also especially delectable when served as pulled pork.

While the pork is still warm, use two forks to pull the meat apart into long shreds.

Serve the pulled pork moistened with a little port wine sauce in the following ways: piled into a bun with your favourite barbecue sauce, wrapped in a soft tortilla, topped with coleslaw and pickles.

Served in a baguette or as an overstuffed sandwich with avocado and soft cheese. It’s good, too, served over rice with grated cheddar cheese and a salsa.

Photo: Peter McIntosh
Photo: Peter McIntosh
Lemon and lime spiced pork

SERVES 8

2kg-2.3kg piece of pork leg or shoulder, skin and all underlying fat removed

Marinade

1 Tbsp smoked paprika (I use the bittersweet variety)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tbsp honey, warmed
2 Tbsp tomato paste
parsley to garnish

Port wine sauce

3 Tbsp port wine (or orange juice)
2 Tbsp cornflour

Method

A 2.3kg leg or shoulder requires a large oven bag. Remove the skin and fat from the pork. This reduces the size of the roast quite dramatically. Probably down to about 2kg. Weigh the pork and calculate the cooking time. Allow 60 minutes per 500g. A 2kg piece of pork will take about four hours to cook. With a small sharp knife make small deep slits all over the meat.

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Put the pork into a large oven bag. Pour the marinade around the pork and turn the meat in the marinade so it coats all surfaces well. Tie the top, leaving a tiny opening for steam to escape. Place the oven-bagged pork in the fridge for an hour or two or up to 24 hours. Turn the bag over from time to time to allow the marinade to flow around the meat.

Bring to room temperature before starting to cook. Position an oven shelf just below the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to 150degC on bake. Place the oven-bagged pork in a roasting dish and cook  for the required time.

Remove from the oven. Slit open the oven bag to allow juices to flow into the roasting dish. Carefully lift the pork on to a warm plate. Cover with foil and then a towel to keep the meat warm and allow it to rest while you make the sauce. Remove the oven bag.

Place the roasting dish on the hob, bring to the boil and boil for 3-4 minutes to reduce the liquid. Lower heat to a gentle simmer. In a small bowl, mix together the port wine and cornflour until smooth and then stir into the sauce. Bring to the boil stirring.

Simmer for a few minutes more until the sauce thickens. Carve the pork into chunky pieces.

Arrange on a serving platter, drizzle with sauce, sprinkle over the chopped parsley and garnish with parsley sprigs. Or follow my suggestions in the introduction and serve as “pulled pork”.

 

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