PHS columnist, Elisabeth Hobbes, brings us one of those go to recipes which make life that little bit easier when you're rushed off your feet or facing a tight deadline: her Pot Roast Pork
I’m incredibly possessive of my time and alternate between cramming as much into the weekend as possible or lazing around. For this reason I’ve developed a handful of reliable recipes I can put in the oven and ignore for a few hours. Today I want to share my recipe for pulled pork.
Note of caution: I don’t really do measurements or timings. Things are approximate. Try it once then adjust to your taste (that’s the beauty of this recipe).
You will need:
- A heavy, deep cooking pot with a lid. Something cast iron that you need the arms of a weightlifter to pick up. If you don’t have this then get hold of a deep sided roasting dish and use a couple of layers of tinfoil to seal it.
- A big piece of pork. The cut depends how fatty you like it (or what’s on special offer). Shoulder is juicy, belly is great if you don’t mind it fatty, leg is leanest so best for the waistline but not as interesting. If you’re cunning at this point remove the skin, pat it dry, slit it into thin strips and cook in a hot oven for around 35 minutes to make crackling.
- White wine. Dryish. One large glass (so something you’ll happily drink the rest of).
- A big bunch of thyme, a few bayleaves and a couple of cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed with the handle of a knife. Or any other flavourings you like, it works well with fennel seeds, star anise and soy sauce to make it Char sui style.
- Two carrots sliced into half lengthways.
- Two sticks of celery, sliced into half midway.
Heat the oven to around 200 deg. Celsius.
Lay alternate strips of carrot and celery on the bottom of your pot. Stick the herbs in between in small bunches. Put the meat on top. Poke a few holes in the meat and stick chunks of garlic into them. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the glass of wine into the bottom and add another glass of water.
Put the lid on the pot (or cover it with a double layer of foil) and put it in the oven. Leave it for around 30-40 minutes. Go have a cup of tea. Read a book. Hang the washing out. Yell at the kids for arguing.After half an hour or so check on the meat. Baste it with the wine and the juices that will be starting to leak out. Put the lid back on. Turn the oven down to around 140-160 deg. Celsius (you know your oven better than me).Now, leave it for at least three hours. Go for a walk (drag the kids with you because they won’t stop arguing), read more books, write your novel, inhale the lovely smell of pork.
After three hours or so check on it. Baste it again and turn it over. The meat will look like it isn’t going to cook through and you’ll start looking for pizza menus but don’t worry. Slice a few deep cuts in it, toss it around a bit and put the lid back on. Leave it for another 60-90 minutes. Now you should be able to pull it apart easily into longer strands. The juice will absorb and you’ll be left with a big mass of meat. You can take the veg out or mash them up too.
Your pork is cooked so serve it with whatever you like. My family love Piggy Sandwiches made of big bread rolls, homemade apple sauce, stuffing and gravy served with corn on the cob. If you planned ahead you’ll also have a bowl of crackling to serve on the side and your family will love you.
The best thing about this recipe is it makes so much that you’ll be able to fill the freezer and pull it out for midweek meals. Tacos, stir fries and chilli all work really well with the basic meat and whatever sauces/spice mixes and vegetables you want to add to it.
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Elisabeth's latest book, The Saxon Outlaw's Revenge, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.