Pork is one of the most widely eaten meats around the world and has been used for much of human history. Pigs have been kept by individual households in many societies and in the Middle Ages in Europe it was common for even very poor families to keep a pig, feeding it on household scraps. Pork meat was valuable to these families and the tradition arose that the only part of the pig that you cannot eat is the squeal! Cured, smoked and preserved in every possible way, the family pig would provide valuable protein throughout the winter. Pork has, therefore, made its way in many forms into our cuisines. Roast pork is a traditional, if higher value, way to prepare the meat, but the tenderness, light flavor and juiciness of the roast makes it a popular dish.
Slow roast pork:
Although most pork cuts can be cured, the leg, shoulder and loin are good cuts for roasting. These have plenty of meat, are not fatty and the skin can be cooked to make delicious ‘crackling’. Shoulder of pork with the bone in is an excellent candidate for slow roasting – a method that creates the tenderest of meat. To create the best crackling score the flesh of the joint at regular intervals, about an inch apart. Roast on the highest setting for thirty minutes, with the joint covered in foil. Turn the heat down, add cloves of garlic, sprinkle with a mixture of rosemary and thyme, replace the foil covered meat and roast for a further five hours at 150C. At this point remove from the oven, add carrots, parsnips and onions to the pot, remove the foil and roast for a further hour. After cooking, leave to rest, covered, for ten to fifteen minutes and serve in slices with roasted potatoes.
Sweet Roast Pork:
Pork has a sweetness to it that is well complimented with honey, white wine, cider or apples. Use of loin of pork, roasted rapidly at a high temperature for half an hour. In the meantime fry off onions gently and prepare several apples. Remove the onions from the heat and add cider/wine and a little honey with rosemary or thyme. Turn the oven down to 350F and place the cored, peeled apples around the pork. Poor over the sauce and baste with the pork’s juices. Cook for a further two hours basting occasionally, rest for ten to fifteen minutes, slice and serve!