China has fabulous pork. When we lived in Duluth, our pork options consisted of over-salted Hormel, which always turned out dry and salty. Here though, pork is rosy and fresh. No pale pink, anemic cuts of meat. This is real pork. And the Chinese should know how to do it right, since pork is in almost every dish.
I think that pork shoulder is an unappreciated cut of meat because it requires lengthy cooking times. Not one hour, not two, but three to four for a couple pounds of shoulder. I don't know what the Chinese do with it as it's not suitable for wok cooking, unless you slice it uber-thin, but I like to rub it down with a Latin American blend of seasonings and cook it for a good four hours at low heat.
The spice rub consists of cumin, chili powder, oregano, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Rub this into your meat and let it sit for an hour in a ceramic baking dish with a lid. Then, put it in the oven, covered, at 300 degrees and let it cook for three to four hours depending on your oven and how many pounds of meat you have.
I have adapted my recipe from NPR's The Splendid Table's Close-Roasted Pork with Ancho, Cinnamon, and Cocoa. This time I forgot the cinnamon, but this recipe is very forgiving. You can't over-cook the meat. It's virtually impossible. Stick the shoulders in sometime around 3pm and it's ready by dinner time with no extra fussing.
I whipped up some homemade tortillas and Turner added some goodness (lard, green onion, red pepper, and cilantro) to a basic can of black beans. We checked the pork at about 3 1/2 hours and it was not quite done. The meat should be fork tender and flake into lovely bits if it's ready. So, we had another cocktail and let it cook another half hour.
When everything was finally ready, we sat down for some excellent tacos. I ate four, I think, and could have had more.
Turner picked up some Beard Papa cream puffs on his way home from work. (I know it's a strange name for a cream puff store. Their mascot reminds me of Turner's father.) He brought the chocolate-covered variety this time. A perfect finish to a throughly satisfying meal. I am stuffed.
Launching My Podcast!
1 day ago