If ever I’m in prison and getting the death penalty and I have to have my last meal, I already know what I’d choose.
(This assumes that Jon Hamm worship is now a crime punishable by death, btw.)
If I am punished for the heinous crime of Jon Hamm worship, then I know how I’d like to spend my last meal: eating my mother’s Puerto Rican roast pork, also known as lechon.
This pork, y’all. This pork is even sexier than Jon Hamm (somehow). It’s got everything you’re looking for in a roast. It’s got chicharrones (crispy pig skin). It’s got tender, flavorful meat. It’s covered in human tin foil.
What’s human tinfoil?
It’s that thing where a midget paints himself silver and does downward facing dog over the pork shoulder.
…Was that joke TOO ridiculous? I just made a Stefon-esque roast pork joke. Admittedly, it’s a long way to go for a ham sandwich.
Anyways, this pork is incredible. When my friend Alison planned a Christmas in July party and asked me to do the meat, I knew I had to bring my show-stopping dish.
Christmas in July is a fun occasion to eat holiday food in the middle of the summer. Christmas is so far away, but if you’re really being honest with yourself, you’re always thinking about stuffing. And mashed potatoes. And roasted meats. (At least, Alison/Anna/Jennie/Becca and I were.)
So, everyone showed up to Alison’s house, where she’d hung the stockings by the chimney with care.
We drank whisky/gingers, listened to the Vince Guaraldi Trio and made sure our meal was properly documented.
We also referenced the holidays/Christmas as often as we could. For example:
Becca: Today was a crazy day.
Me: Things can be tough around the holidays.
If you’re in the market for a dish to wow a crowd, this is one you need to make. This pork has such an insane amount of flavor that permeates the whole dish. It’s salty and herbaceous, with a hint of tang from the vinegar. The chicharrones are not to be discarded, but fought over. Crunchy and fatty. It’s better than the best bacon. And when you pair that with the juicy meat?
Well, you realize that it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
Roasted Pork Shoulder, adapted from Tyler Florence from FoodNetwork.com
- 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 9 pounds), skin on
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 large handful fresh oregano
- 4 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Place the pork, fat-side up, in a roasting pan, and using a sharp knife, stab small slits (seriously) the surface of the meat and the skin. Mash the garlic, oregano, salt, and peppercorns into a paste using the back of a knife or a mortar and pestle. Place the adobo (the paste) in a bowl and stir in the oil and vinegar. Rub the garlic paste all over the pork, being sure to get into the incisions so the salt can penetrate the meat and pull out the moisture. Cover the pork with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
Note: Save yourself some trouble and put the whole roasting pan in an unscented garbage trash bag and put it in the fridge. That’s how my mom has always done it.
Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Roast the pork for 1 hour, uncovered, until the skin is crispy-brown. Be sure to roast it skin side up.
Turn the oven down to 325 and roast for 2 more hours. Internal temperature should be between 150 and 160 degrees F.
Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes before slicing. Break the skin into chicarron pieces and serve with the meat.