Roasted Pork Shoulder with Braised Lentils
Just about everyone who could possibly reading this has had, I’m sure, to alter some of their plans due to snow over the last few weeks. Typically, when the weather is nasty, we opt out of our normal trip into the Harlem Fairway, and instead we sojourn via subway to either the Whole Foods on 97th street or, as in this case, the UWS Fairway on 74th and Broadway.
It is always a very interesting proposition when switching Fairways. I’ve never been to two different locations of the same store so close to one another that have such a different selection. Elizabeth says that it’s their intention to make each spot special, and in this capacity, they definitely succeed. With Christmas around the corner, we needed little by way of groceries, but when in Rome, you have to at least see what the Romans are up to…
The meat cases at the UWS locale is very different from the other, perhaps only because the top meat man has different tastes. I found half pork shoulders for a very modest payout, meaning I get a 3 pounder for less than 5 bucks. In fact, I got two. I knew I could throw them into the freezer for a week or two. I had my parents coming in after the holiday to visit NYC for the first time since our landfall here and I wanted something that I could do a lot with (soup, tacos, sandwiches, roast).
That plan didn’t exactly come to fruition, though, because there was no way we could thaw one out in time their first night here, and a late lunch/gorge session at Katz’s Deli left us with no appetite Monday evening. So we saved the noble porker for Wednesday with the intentions to finish it up Thursday night as part of our moderately epic traditional New Year’s Eve dinner. It was nice, Elizabeth was working from home and I had only a few meetings to attend, so one of us could be in the apartment while the oven was on.
Most preparations call for a minimum of 2 hours in the hot box with 15 minutes of high heat to begin. Some extreme treatments even call for 12 hours of very low heat to break everything down. I took what I could take time-wise, settling on 20 min at 500 F then almost 3 hours at 225 in my roasting pan with the removable rack in. I started the whole ordeal with a rubdown with my Penzey’s Fox Point, some chili powder from the Fruit Exchange and some cayenne & extra salt.
I’ve done the pork shoulder now, twice before, I guess. I tried it French-style in the cast iron dutch oven, but the proper oven roast seems to do better, at least in my opinion. I still think I’m making mistakes in the stove-top version, whereas this method is more fool-proof. At the behest of the wife, I paired it with Anne Burrell’s lentils, which matched surprisingly well.