This is a pretty simple and inexpensive way to treat a lot of people. A whole picnic shoulder will weigh around ten pounds and can feed at least twelve people, or a good meal for four with a bunch of leftovers. The prune sauce works really well with the pork, and it makes for an interesting change from the more classic applesauce.
For the Pork:
1 whole pork picnic shoulder (about ten pounds), skin on and bone left in
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp allspice, ground
½ tsp clove, ground
For the Sauce:
½ cup shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
3 bay leaves
4 branches fresh thyme
2 cups pitted prunes
1.5 cups prune juice
2 tbsp unsalted cold butter, diced
Ask your butcher to score the skin of the pork in a cross-hatch pattern, making the cuts at about an inch apart.
The night before you make the roast, mix all the spices together and rub them thoroughly all over the roast, pressing the seasoning down in between the scored skin. Leave the roast on a plate in your fridge for the night (eight to twelve hours is good).
The next day, take the roast out of the fridge an hour or so before you want to start cooking it. Preheat the oven to 275°F. The roast takes around six hours to finish so plan to start according to when you want to sit down for supper.
Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan. It’s important that the roast is elevated so air will flow around it. Place in the center of the oven and cook for five hours, basting with the drippings every thirty minutes or so.
After five hours the roast should be pretty well cooked. You can tell if you stick a fork in the meatiest part of the shoulder and the meat yields easily. Remove pork from oven and take the pork out of the roasting pan, placing it in another pan or even a baking sheet. Reserve the first roasting pan to make the sauce. Turn the oven up to 450°F. Once the oven reaches the temperature pace the roast back in and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the skin has crackled up. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest, covered with tin foil.
To make the sauce, drain as much fat out of the first roasting pan. There will still be a couple of tablespoons lingering in the roasting pan – that will be used to sauté the shallots. Place the pan on the stovetop over a medium heat and add the shallots. Using a wooden spoon, start to scrape all the delicious drippings from the bottom of the pan. Once the shallots start to brown, add the garlic and continue stirring.
Place the prunes in a small pot with the prune juice and simmer until the juice has reduced by 50%.
Once the garlic has caramelized in the roasting pan, you’ll want to remove the rest of the excess fat. To do this tilt your roasting pan on one end and let it rest on the lip of a sauté pan, maybe elevating that one side by an inch and a half or so. Use your spoon to move the shallots, garlic, and bits of roast to the elevated side, letting the fat settle on the lower side. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the remaining pork fat.
Once the fat is removed, place the roasting pan back on a medium heat and deglaze with the red wine, scraping up all remaining bits of caramelized meat juice. When the wine has reduced by half, add the beef stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Simmer for about five minutes, or until the sauce just coats the back of a spoon. Strain the sauce into the pot with the prunes and prune juice. Bring this mixture to a simmer, then add the cold butter bit by bit, stirring constantly, until the butter is completely emulsified into the sauce. Remove the pot from the heat.
Take the tin foil off of the roast and carve. The skin should easily come off in pieces; I like to break up the crackling and serve alongside the slices of pork meat. Slice the pork around the joint and place on a platter. Pour the prune sauce into a serving pot with a spoon. Serve with some roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, or even squash.