Roast Pork Shoulder

I made Nagi Maehashi’s recipe for roast pork the other night. It was pretty successful. The meat was tender and, most importantly, the skin was exactly as salty and crispy as I had hoped it would be. I’ve only tried this kind of roast a couple of times before and both times were abject failures. The meat turned out okay, but the skin has hard and rubbery. Hoping to avoid that, I followed the recipe and timing as closely as I could. One variation was skipping the fennel seeds. I actually bought them, but when I opened the pack, the fragrance hit me so hard I decided to give them a miss and stuck with salt, pepper and oil. Maybe next time.

Nagi recommends getting a flat square chunk of meat, which I couldn’t find in any of the butchers I went to. I had to make do with a vacuum-packed, rolled and tied roast from the supermarket, which she pretty much says to avoid. Unrolled and freed from its string it still looked more like a football cut in half than a lasagna, which I think is probably the shape to go for. Even so, it turned out pretty good, although I should have done more to flatten it out before starting.

Something I’ll pay more attention to next time is monitoring the final blast of heat at the end of the roast. The recipe advises to cover bits of skin that get done first with pieces of foil to stop them them from burning, holding them in place with toothpicks that have been soaked in water. Stupidly, I dismissed this as being overly fussy and most likely optional. However, when I saw how quickly some parts of the skin were cooking compared to others I realised my mistake. Next time, I’ll be soaking the toothpicks well ahead of time. Unless you have a perfectly flat piece of meat you’ll want to use this technique.

The only part of the recipe that didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped was the gravy. With the amount of flour called for the gravy was thick and gluey, even after all the stock and pan juices were mixed in. I ended up just ladling a little of it into another pan and diluting it with a bit more stock, which ended up tasting pretty good. Considering how spot-on the rest of this recipe was, I wondered why this part was so off. I got in touch with Nagi, who told me that there’d been a recent template change, which led to an error. It should have been 35 grams rather than 65.

Aside from tasting great, this is a great example of the kind of recipe I love to see. It includes in-depth explanations of why you need to do things a certain way and copious notes on things to watch out for, but does it in a light and easy-to-read manner. Looking forward to my next attempt.