Instead of spending Christmas day in the kitchen slaving over some turkey that needs basting lets make something just a impressive but requires basically no work. Unless of course you’d rather be in the kitchen pretending to be busy so you don’t have to talk to your relatives—which is completely understandable.
Pork shoulder is the most perfectly effortless roast. It’s like the Christmas miracle of food. It tastes freakin’ unbelievable, it’s pretty inexpensive (as roasts go) and all you have to do is rub it with some spices, pop it in the oven, and have the strength to walk away. In about 6 hours you will have the most luxurious, tender meat with a crunchy top and melt-in-your-mouth middle.
Here’s what you do: first of all you need to buy yourself the finest bone-in pork shoulder you can find. There are two different cuts of the pig that actually get called pork shoulder: “Picnic Shoulder” and “Boston Butt”. If you can stick with the Boston Butt roast, it has lots of juicy, marbled fat and keeps the roast super tender. If all you can find is the Picnic Shoulder, that’s fine it just has more connective tissue, so it may require a bit longer cooking time.
Then you let the roast sit at room temperature for an hour before throwing it in the oven. This will allow the pork to cook more evenly as the inside of the roast and the outside will be about the same temperature when it hits the oven.
Then rub the pork all over with the garlic and herb mixture. Dried orange peel has a more intense orange essence than fresh, but if you can’t find it, substitute twice the amount of freshly grated orange zest.
Sometime during the six or so hours that the pork is roasting you’ll need to pop back in the kitchen to make the cilantro sauce, which requires you to put a bunch of stuff in the blender and whizz it up as the Brits would say. You don’t have to make the sauce but it’s bright, fresh flavors are the perfect accent to the rich meat.
Serve the pork in big shredded chunks with the Cilantro sauce and some steamed rice or Quinoa with Corn and Scallions. The leftovers are pretty unbelievable too, tucked inside a crusty roll with a slice of swiss and some mustard.
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 teaspoons dried orange zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 whole bone-in pork shoulder roast (about 7 pounds)
- 1 bunch cilantro, tough stems removed
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed tangerine juice
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
- Remove pork shoulder from the refrigerator about an hour before roasting. Heat oven to 450°F and arrange rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Combine garlic, orange zest, thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub pork with the garlic mixture on all sides. Place pork, fat side up, in a rack set in a roasting pan.
- Roast 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 300°F and continue to roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 185°F, about 6 hours. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Let pork rest about 15 minutes before shredding into large pieces. Serve with cilantro sauce on the side.
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until combined and smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.