Sunday, March 01, 2009
Budget Cuts: A Roast Less Traveled
Ruts, like the ones that gradually wear into the roadways from thousands of vehicles, are so easy to get into and so hard to get out of.
Making meals, if you have to do it on a daily basis, can be like that, too. Paging through my cookbooks or going online seems like too much of a hassle when it's so easy to pull out a standby, the good old go-to recipes I can practically make in my sleep.
I'd hauled a pork shoulder out of the freezer to thaw when the subject of dinner came up in a chat with my neighbor. The subject of our conversations is often food and, as a fabulous cook and teacher at the local culinary school, she suggested roasting it with a rub. Now, to me, pork shoulder is perfect for braising, especially with the spices of Mexico.
The shoulder, happily marinating away.
But a rub...that intrigued me. I had some dried ancho chiles in the pantry along with some cocoa nibs, so I decided to go for a variation on the Pollo Asado con Chipotle from my article on Por Que No taqueria.
A couple of hours of marinating, turning it once or twice to make sure it was absorbing all of that chile goodness, a little time in the oven and we had a main course that would go with any number of sides from saffron rice to braised greens. Plus the leftovers made some amazing sandwiches and would have been great chopped and refried for pork tacos.
And it showed me once again that those side trips off the main highway are so worth taking!
Chile-marinated Pork Shoulder
3-4 lb. pork shoulder
4 dried ancho chiles
1 dried hot red chile or chipotle chile
1 Tbsp. cocoa nibs (optional)
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil
Place pork shoulder in a heavy-duty self-sealing plastic bag or large mixing bowl. Place chiles and cocoa nibs in the blender until they are coarsely ground. Add garlic, salt and vegetable oil and blend till it becomes a thick slurry. Pour over meat and massage in bag or turn in bowl until it is well coated. Marinate 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator. Remove meat from marinade and cook over indirect heat on a charcoal grill or in a roasting pan in a 350° oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 130° on an instant-read thermometer. Place on carving board, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
Look for other recipes in the Budget Cuts series: Stuffed Pork Leg Roast with Kale and Pine Nuts; Grilled London Broil; Pork Tagine with Pistachios, Almonds, Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins and Pork Leg Roast with Prosciutto and Lemon Stuffing with Roasted Vegetables.