Slow-roasted Citrus and Garlic Pork with Glazed Carrots and Pan-fried Corn

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Something about that picture puts me in mind of a fish. No idea why. Anyway, so in yet another magazine post (hey, at least it’s a different one), Food Network magazine puts out 6 issues per year, instead of the usual one per month. This recent addition is action-packed with recipes, including one for hot buttered rum. I’ll give you one guess as to who created that one!

Buried amidst the plethora of turkey and stuffing and other traditional Thanksgiving feasts was a section entitled “A Cuban Feast” and it had me at this title: Slow-Roasted Pork with Citrus and Garlic. You might have picked up on it by now, but I love pork. I think I  subconsciously look for the pork recipes before I even consider other meats. This particular recipe calls for a 6-8lb Boston butt, which is a shoulder cut (also used to make the incredibly and surprisingly delicious cabbage soup from Veselka) and not only does the grocery store I use to buy my meats not carry any that size, it’s just too much for my small family. The side dishes listed weren’t great for us, not big squash eaters here and bananas flambé, well, let’s just say I think it’s better if I don’t intentionally light things on fire in my kitchen since I do it so well accidentally already. I served this up with some honey-balsamic glazed carrots and some pan-fried corn with red pepper and parsley.

I can’t lie to you, this was an insane amount of prep for a roast that was not particularly spectacular, which actually did not surprise me too much as Saveur’s Caribbean pork roast was also heavy on prep but disappointing on flavor. I don’t want to discourage you from making it though, because taste is such a subjective thing, but be prepared. I’ve cut the recipe in half here and it should serve 4 comfortably.

Slow-Roasted Pork with Citrus and Garlic
(adapted from Food Network Magazine)

5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 3-to-4-pound Boston butt pork shoulder
Juice of 3 oranges, peels reserved
Juice of 2 lemons, peels reserved
Juice of 2 limes
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 white onion, thinly sliced

OK, here’s where the work starts. The magazine said prep would be 40 minutes. My experience was closer to 90 minutes, and it might be because I don’t have a juicer so I squeezed my citrus by hand, and since I had cuts on both hands I opted to leave the peel on and just cut it off after. If this is something you plan on doing as well, I did score four lines down each fruit before cutting in half, to make peeling easier.

In your food processor (or blender, or mortar and pestle) blend the first five ingredients into a paste. It may not look like one, but it should feel like one. Don’t expect the spices to get too finely ground, this is more like a slightly damp rub than anything. Trim any excessive fat from your pork and cut deep slits about every 2 inches all over. I tend to just stab mine with a paring knife, I’m not sure precision is especially important here. Rub your spice mixture all over the pork, into the slits, and set aside for now.

In a large glass or plastic (no metal! acids + metal = reaction!) bowl, whisk together the juice of the oranges, lemons and limes, the Worcestershire sauce and the olive oil. Submerge the pork as best you can in the marinade, then top with the onions and finally, the orange and lemon peels. Cover with plastic wrap (not foil! acid + metal = reaction!)  and marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. (I let mine marinate for 12 hours.)

Preheat the oven to 450F. Remove the peels and chuck ‘em into the fridge for later. Place your pork onto a rack and into a roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for an hour. Keep the marinade and onions, you’ll need them later. After an hour, take your pork out and turn the oven down to 350. Pour the marinade over the roast and top with the onions, cover with foil and roast for another hour. Take the pork out, add the peels on and around the pork,  and roast for another 1-2 hours, basting with the juices occasionally. The recipe says to cook until it reaches 190, but at it’s peak mine only got to about 184. It doesn’t matter, pork is safe at 160 (Mark Bittman says 150) and is lovely, juicy and flavorful at that temperature anyway. Let it rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

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Can I just tell you, the idea of leftovers, chopped, on toast with gravy? It’s really working for me right now. I’ll have to try it.

Anyway, I’m going to be up front and tell you that the proportions for these side dishes are going to be estimates. I didn’t work from a recipe (!) and it’s so fun to just throw some of this, toss some of that, that I failed to write down what I used. So play with it a little, both recipes here are extremely forgiving.

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Honey-and Balsamic-Glazed Carrots

4-6 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

To julienne your carrots: slice in half lengthwise, then into thirds across. Take each piece and slice into 3 or 4 pieces lengthwise. If pieces look large, turn them on their sides and slice again lengthwise. Though really, there’s no reason you couldn’t do baby carrots or coins instead of strips, you would just need to adjust the steaming time.

Speaking of steaming time, add the water and the pat of butter to the skillet, give it a few minutes to warm up, then add the carrots. Cover and allow to steam for 10-20 minutes, crisp-tender is the goal but your preference is key. If you like softer carrots, let cook to the long end of the time frame. Once the water is almost evaporated, add the honey, stirring to coat, and then the balsamic, and allow to reduce to a glaze. Towards the end, add your salt and pepper to taste.

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Pan-fried Corn with Red Pepper and Parsley

3 ears of corn
1 Tbsp butter/margarine
Pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne
1/2 tsp dried parsley, or 1 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Really, any kind of corn will do here. You could use drained canned or thawed frozen, but as a former contestant of the Little Miss Sweet Corn pageant of Gibson County, Indiana, I favor fresh yellow sweet corn.

To prepare fresh corn for the pan fry, shuck the ears (if you peel from the bottom, the silk is easier to deal with), trim the bottoms and steam for 10-20 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Corn should not be mushy, it needs a bit of bite to it, imo, but again, it’s all about preference. Once it has reached desired doneness, run under cold water to cool and slice kernels off the cob. Don’t worry if it stays in chunks, it’s nicer that way anyway. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add butter and allow to melt.  Add corn, red pepper, dried parsley and your salt and pepper, and cook just until corn starts to brown. If using fresh parsley, chop and add to corn once corn is finished cooking.

I would love to know what you thought of that pork roast, so tell me if you try it out!

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