Monday, December 6, 2010

Timmy's slow cooked pork shoulder recipe

This was the joint pre-roasting. It appears
the final meal was not photographed. I was probably
distracted by hunger! 
I'd been meaning to cook this recipe for about ten years now. I had it written on a scrap of paper in my recipe file and was just looking for the right occasion. My brother Timmy is a great cook and I knew anything he liked would be awesome. The recipe, it turned out on asking, was taken from Jamie Oliver's book "Cooking with Jamie". Finally, I had my chance....a pork shoulder with Timmy's name on it, just waiting to be cooked. It wasn't the dinosaur-proportioned 11-15 lb shoulder that Mr Oliver suggests cooking over a full 18 hours, but I thought the method for cooking a joint that size should work on a smaller 3lb shoulder over about 8 hours.  And we were hungry...

Ingredients for 4:

1 tablespoons fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon sea or rock salt
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 smallish onions peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic,  roughly smashed
Small bunch of fresh thyme
1 2-4 lb piece of pork shoulder on the bone, preferably free-range or organic, skin scored
Olive oil
100 ml bottle of white wine
200 ml pint chicken or vegetable stock


Crush the fennel seeds with the salt in a pestle and mortar until fine. Put the roughly chopped vegetables, garlic, and thyme sprigs into the slow cooker. Pat the pork shoulder with olive oil and sit it on top of the vegetables. Now massage all the smashed fennel seeds into the skin of the pork, making sure you push them right into all the scores to maximize the flavour. Add the wine and stock to the bottom of the slow cooker.
Cook the pork on low for 8 to 12 hours, until the meat is soft and fork tender. Remove the pork to a warm place and mash the veggies into the pan juices to create a lovely gravy.

Lovely served with roast potatoes and other roasted root veg. 


You know what? This was perfectly acceptable but, for all people had raved wildly about it, I expected more "wow factor" and it simply didn't grab me that much. The texture was tender and moist - what the slow cooker is best at -  and the taste was fine but not exactly knock 'em dead.

In the end, I went back to the original recipe and found out that the roast was given an initial burst of very high heat before roasting slowly overnight. So, if you want to try this, a good browning in a large frying pan before putting the pork into the slow cooker might be a good idea to maximise the flavour or you could even start the pork off in a very high oven, just till it browns and then transfer it to a waiting bed of vegetables. I think personally I may look for other pork pot roast recipes rather than try and make this work better. 

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