M: I’m a pork man. I mean, I love a good cut of beef and you can’t really go wrong with chicken, but there’s just something about pork. Maybe it’s because North Carolina is the second largest pork-producing state. Maybe it’s because the nation’s largest retail pork producer, Nahunta Pork Center, is not far from here and they have an outlet store attached to my farmer’s market. Or maybe it’s because moving South exposed me to the joys of barbeque and pig pickin’s and the all-but-ubiquitous pulled pork. Whatever the reason, pork is my “go to” meat these days and if you’ve got a recipe I haven’t tried, count me in.
This recipe, with its bold “a.k.a. Liquid Pork”, brought high expectations from a guy who stops at every single church, social club, or neighborhood pig pickin’ he sees.
How was it? Not to shabby, I must say, but it left me conflicted. What separates this roast from one that might be destined for a good ol’ NC pulled pork sandwich is the addition of a fairly traditional gravy. The submitter says that he prefers to pull this roast instead of slicing, but his extended family prefers it be sliced. To the slicer, I say good luck.
That is not a criticism.
This is one tender hunk of meat. Cooking it in that gravy made this roast so moist and succulent that “Liquid Pork” is pert near literal. In fact, when I lifted the roast from the pot so I could show you how nicely it had cooked, the bone slipped out cleanly through the bottom without provocation. I suspect the only reason it didn’t fall to pieces immediately was because I hadn’t stripped the skin off yet. That makes for some good pulled pork.
And the gravy? It was fine. Good even. If this were sliced, this gravy would have been just the thing. But once the roast became pulled pork, willingly or not, I kind of wished I had a little Eastern Carolina barbeque sauce instead. This is not the recipe’s fault. Call it regional conditioning.
Recipe: Pork Roast (a.k.a. Liquid Pork)
Summary: A pork roast so moist and tender it can’t help but be pulled. From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook
- 1 (7 lb) Pork shoulder, bone-in
- 1 Head garlic, cloves peeled and quartered
- 1 T salt
- 2 tsp Black pepper
- 1 tsp Ground cayenne pepper
- 6 Medium onions, chopped
- 2 Bell peppers, cored and chopped
- 2 Stalks celery, chopped
- 2 Carrots, chopped
- 3/4 c Peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 c Flour
- Cut narrow, 1 inch deep slits all over pork shoulder and stuff slits with garlic.
- Season outside of shoulder with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
- Brown meat in a dutch oven over high heat, adding a little oil, if necessary to prevent sticking.
- Transfer pork to a plate or large bowl.
- Add onions, peppers, celery, and carrots to dutch oven and stir to coat.
- Return pork to dutch oven and set aside.
- Heat oil in a heavy skillet for 2 minutes, then sprinkle in flour.
- Stir flour constantly until smooth until roux forms and darkens to the color of peanut butter (10-12 minutes).
- Pour roux over pork and vegetables.
- Cover dutch oven and place in oven at 350 degrees to roast 2 1/2 hours.
- Add 1/2 cup of water and continue to roast uncovered another 3 1/2 – 4 hours, checking every 30 minutes and adding water, if necessary to keep moist.
- When skin is brown and meat begins to fall apart, remove from oven and let stand 30 minutes.
- Lift skin from roast (if skin is not crispy, place on a baking sheet and place in oven at 475 degrees for 10 minutes).
- Pull meat from bone and serve with gravy and pork skin.