In a word, this dish is a surprise, a wonderful surprise.
The word “shoulder” has origins that can be traced back only a few hundred years. In Old High German, it may have meant “shield” which strikes notes of strength and firmness. Today, a shoulder cut of meat is considered to be “less than grand.” The shoulder muscles are designed to be strong, not tasty. It’s one of those cuts of meat that many of us would pass on at a restaurant.
But in today’s world of meat revolution, we know that every cut can be superb if, and perhaps only if, you simply take the care to prepare it the “right” way. Here, cooking the pork shoulder for a long time in a combination of cream and buttermilk serves to soften the shoulder and moisten the meat. Cooking meat for 3 ½ hours is usually a recipe for toughness and dryness. Here, just the opposite occurs.
Beyond the actual delicacy of the meat itself, here you have fennel that is cooked into its own mellow softness. And the sauce, the sauce. It’s cheesy, rich, and a delicious complement to the meat.
This is a perfect weekend meal, one ideally served on a cool or cold Sunday night. Your home will be filled a meat-cheese aroma that will everyone clustering around the dinner table. One bite, just one, will convince everyone that the wait has been worth every second.
Pork Roast with Garlic-Parmesan Cream
Yield: serves 8
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 heads of garlic, top ½ inch cut off
- One 3 ounce Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese rind
- 2 small sage sprigs
- One 5 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
- Kosher salt and pepper
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 medium fennel bulbs (3 pounds), trimmed and cut into wedges
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Chopped parsley for garnish
In a pot just large enough to hold the pork, combine the cream with the buttermilk, butter, garlic, cheese rind and 1 sage sprig. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Bring just to a simmer. Cover, leaving it open just a crack, and cook over low heat for about 3 ½ hours, until very tender. Transfer the pork and garlic to a large plate; discard the cheese rind.
Boil the poaching liquid over moderately high heat, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; keep warm.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°. On a large baking sheet, toss the fennel and the remaining sage sprig with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the fennel in a single layer. Place the pork on top of the fennel and roast until the pork is deeply golden and the fennel is tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.
Thinly slice the pork. Arrange the fennel and garlic on a platter and top with the pork. Garnish with parsley and serve the sauce on the side.
Source: Food and Wine Magazine, October 2014
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for1/100th second at ISO‑800