Have you guys ever had the weekday 4pm-hunger? If the hell actually exists, I bet it will be similar to my 4pm-hunger strike. By that time, I have munched on all the snacks I have packed for the day. A small café in the school has already run out most of the goodies by that time. I turn into like a hungry and crazy shark – a brief sniff of food is sufficient enough to turn on my blood mouth and feeding frenzy. Do you guys know what I am talking about right? Well, anyway, as soon as I get home, my routine is to eat a snack (usually a warm peanut butter and banana sandwich) as fast as humanly possible before I turn into that bald grumpy old man from “That 70’s show”. Then, I start making my dinner.
Weekday cooking is personally the most daunting task of all. I come back home, feeling like I just slaved away at a labor camp. Now, I have to buy grocery, cook and clean? It is not going to happen. What’s more, I am so spoiled to cook one type of food in a massive quantity over the weekend and eat the same every night (I blame my entitlement to my parents and aunts). My solution is to go for half-prepared ahead recipes, such as this succulent roast pork with pomegranate salad. In that way, you can still get maximal pleasure with little effort and frustration.
This roast pork with pomegranate salad is my absolute favorite weekday dinner. It looks light and refreshing enough to make you feel like you are eating a diet food, but tastes so satisfyingly meaty. I always joke around that this dish has the personality of my mom whenever she calls me fat but makes me eat more at a dinner table. That’s ok; I still love her.
I roast my pork butt over the weekend under low heat for several hours until the meat becomes so soft and succulent. Pork butt or Boston butt is actually the meat cut from the shoulder region, so don’t worry you are not eating anyone’s behind. It is relatively inexpensive but probably the best cut, if you give the appropriate tender loving care. The co-stars of this dish are roasted garlic and pomegranate. (I have undying love for my garlic. If I go to a restaurant and see a dish name has garlic in it, my eyes would just fixate on the dish like I am stalking a prey or something.) When roasted, garlic turns into this sweet aromatic paste of pure Hufflepuff, which goes along with everything and anything. When I start mixing the tender pork with roasted garlic, sweet and tanginess of pomegranate, and freshness of the mint, I really have to control my urge to just skip the photo-shoot and start eating. The dish smells, looks and tastes amazing.
My favorite way to eat this salad is to sandwich between toasted and torn-up naan pieces. Within several minutes, I usually stop looking like I am feeding. Then, I know this recipe is a keeper.
- 1.5 lbs. of pork butt
- 10 cloves of garlic (skin-on)
- 1 white onion (sliced)
- 1 cup of chopped mint
- ½ cup of garlic infused olive oil for the salad dressing
- ½ cup of vegetable oil for cooking the meat
- Seeds of ½ pomegranate
- Juice of ½ pomegranate
- ½ cup of chopped cashew
- 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon of red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon of paprika
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and Pepper
- Generously massage salt, pepper and paprika onto the pork.
- Heat up vegetable oil in a Dutch oven, and sear the meat until it is golden all around (about 4-5 minutes on each side).
- Take out the meat, and bed the floor of the Dutch oven with sliced garlic. This step is important to avoid your meat from getting burnt during long cooking process.
- Place the meat back in the Dutch oven. Put in the garlic, skin-on, around the meat. These garlic cloves will get roasted and steamed within the skin, and become insanely delicious sweet treats.
- Put the Dutch oven in an oven preheated to 250 degrees for three hours.
- Let the meat rest for 15 minutes.
- Then use two forks to pull the meat into thin threads. The meat should be fall of the bone tender by this point (I would prepare up to this point over the weekend).
- In a separate bowl, squeeze out the roasted garlic from the skin. Combine the garlic paste with garlic-infused oil and pomegranate juice. Stir thoroughly. This will be the dressing for the salad.
- Tip for handling pomegranate – cut the pomegranate in half cross-sectionally, just like you would to a lemon. To get the seeds, over a big bowl, place the pomegranate face down, and whack the end with a wooden spoon. The seeds will just fall out. For the juice, just squeeze the fruit just like you would juice a lemon.
- Combine shredded meat, lemon zest, the dressing, mint leaves, cashew nuts, cumin, brown sugar, and red chili flakes thoroughly.
- You will definitely need more salt, and add salt and pepper according to your taste. Then, let the meat absorb all the flavors for about 15 minutes (I know it sounds like a random 15-minute torture but trust me your patience will be rewarded).
- Serve the salad with rice or naan bread.