Local Hudson Valley author Sarah Copeland just published a new cookbook, Every Day is Saturday. Wouldn’t that be the best? To celebrate our neighbor’s publication, we asked Copeland to share one of her favorite recipes from the book. It’s for a magic pork shoulder and it feeds a crowd.
“I married a vegetarian and didn’t eat meat for a good long while,” Copeland writes the back story of her magic pork shoulder in Every Day is Saturday. “We had a first kid, then a second, moved to the country, and got our first serious dining room table—in rapid succession. House with a big table and kids begets dozens of parties for holidays, birthdays, and merry making. For a long time, I served vegetarian entrées to everyone who came, no matter what they ate at home. But one day I slow-braised a big old pork shoulder for the meat-eaters.
The house filled and people raved. So, I did it again.
Without realizing it, a braised pork shoulder became my party meat. I’d make loads of roast vegetables and homemade tortillas, rice and beans, baked plantains, and some kind of potent green sauce for everyone, then slow-braise a pork shoulder for the meat-eaters.
By instinct, I sent the extras home with the meat-eaters. And then one day, I kept a little back for the kids. The benefits of having tender, succulent pork meat by the pound on the stove, and later in the refrigerator (or the freezer) rewarded us tenfold. I could heat up a little to serve with warm mashed potatoes. I could use a little to top a rice bowl, or stuff it into burritos with shredded lettuce and beans.
Gradually I started seeing just how deliciously convenient this new habit was. In fact, it was virtually magic. The meat was always moist and tender, and there was only one big pot to clean for weeks’ worth of food. It wasn’t something we would eat every day, or even every week, but something that, when we did, I was proud to have made.
If you want real magic—make this in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, where the long cook time doesn’t determine whether or not you can stay at home all day. Either way you go, make this if you have any plans in sight to feed the masses. They. Will. Rave.”
We made the recipe and Copeland is telling the truth.
MAGIC PORK SHOULDER
PREP TIME: 25 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 8 HOURS (+ 1 DAY TO MARINATE; OPTIONAL)
SERVES: 10 to 12
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds
One 8½-lb (about 4-kg) bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt)
One 12-oz (360-ml) bottle flavorful beer (not a light beer)
Pickled vegetables, warmed corn tortillas, quartered avocados, and lime wedges, for serving
Combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and fennel in a small bowl. Place the pork in a large bowl and rub the spices all over, being sure to cover all sides. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Bring the pork to room temperature on the countertop for 1 hour before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
Put the seasoned pork in a large Dutch oven, fat side up, and roast, uncovered, until lightly browned, 45 minutes. Pour the beer over the pork, lower the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C), and cover the pot. Cook until the pork is completely tender and pulls easily from the bone, about 6 hours.
Remove from the oven. Transfer the pork to a plate and remove the bone. Cook the liquid over medium-high heat until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. (I often skip this part because the liquid cooks down every time I reheat the leftover pork all week long.)
Meanwhile, shred the pork, using two forks. Let the liquid cool slightly, then return the pork to the liquid to keep warm. Serve warm, with all the goodies.
Reprinted from Every Day Is Saturday by Sarah Copeland with permission by Chronicle Books, 2019
GOOD TO KNOW
An 8-pound (3.6-kg) shoulder easily feeds 10 to 12 adults plus a handful of small kids as a taco filling. For a smaller group, use a 4- to 6-pound (1.8- to 2.7-kg) shoulder instead, reducing the cook time a bit and halving the spice rub. Use a whole bottle of beer, regardless.
Cook this dish completely ahead; cool, wrap tightly, and keep in the refrigerator, in the braising liquid, for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat slowly in a large Dutch oven over low heat. (If frozen, bring to room temperature before warming.)