Shoulder to Shoulder

I have a confession to make about food presentation.  Whereas I really enjoy photographing ingredients, the cooking process and even puddings and baked goods in their finished state, photographing dinner plates often eludes me. Most of the time, I’m simply too hungry and eager to tuck in to be bothered enough to plate things up prettily before snapping away with the patience the dish deserves.  And I don’t want my dinner going cold either.  It’s something I need to try to find a way around and certainly practise a lot more.  Getting a decent camera might also help.  

For this post, I feel the final photo lets the product down.  But this shouldn’t put you off as this is a really tasty dish made with a revelatory cut of meat- yes, I’ve discovered the pork shoulder.  Cheap as chips (almost), it usually comes in cuts large enough to feed several mouths over several days.

First off, I found this recipe for a roast with a spicy crackling and apple relish.  I followed it to the word, as you can see from the picture below.  But I’m not sure about the method for making the crackling, so I’ve adapted the recipe below to include a way that I know makes perfect crackling, with less of a smoke-filled kitchen to contend with.

From one pork shoulder dish to another- the following day, I used the leftover meat to make a pork stroganoff, which meant that I stretched a £3.50 joint to 5 (large) servings.  Not bad.

Spicy Roast Pork Shoulder with Apple Relish

 You will need:

1 pork shoulder, about 3 kg
150ml cider
4 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp peppercorns
2 tsp dried chilli
4 tsp sea salt
6 garlic cloves
zest and juice of 2 lemon
4 cooking apple
3 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of crushed dried chillies
Good grating of whole nutmeg


1.  Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. In your pestle and mortar (or, if you don’t have one, fold into a tea towel and roll a glass over it) crush the fennel and coriander seeds along with the peppercorns.

2.  Add the chilli, sea salt, garlic and lemon zest and give this a good bash to mix to a paste.

3.  Using a very sharp knife and of course being very careful, remove the skin from the pork and set to one side. Rub about half the paste over the meat, drizzle with olive oil, 150 ml of the cider and the juice of one lemon.  Roast in the oven for about 2.5  hours.  If the paste at the top of the join begins to burn, simply turn over, basting as you go. 

4.  Meanwhile, prepare the spicy apple sauce by peeling, coring and chopping up the apples into chunks.  Add these to a pan with the sugar, chilli, cinnamon, nutmeg and what’s left of the cider.

5. Bring to a simmer before reducing the heat and covering.  Cook until you have an apple sauce-like consistency.  The relish can be stored in sterilised jars and kept for up to 1 month. 

6.  Finally, prepare the crackling.  Cut some slits into the skin of the pork an stuff the remainder of the paste into this.  Turn the heat up in the oven to about 220 degrees C and roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the skin is crisp.  Serve with some roast potatoes that have been toasted in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin seeds and some lemony greens.   Get it while it’s hot.  Put the camera down. 


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