Happy Labor Day weekend everyone, and I hope you all have some fun plans. Unfortunately, for me, I was forced to face with the reality that I am getting old. On Friday, I went out dancing in West Hollywood with a group of friends. There, on the dance floor, I attempted to go low, and ended up hurting my hip. Now, I am in the worst limping state of my life, and I thanked graciously to whoever invented the stair rails. Anyway, enough venting, let’s go back to the actual blog post.
I have a soft spot for under-rated meat cuts. Many people may scoff, avoid, and give dirty looks at them. But, they are all missing out because I truly believe that the tastiest part comes from the ugliest cut. In pork, my all time favorite is the picnic shoulder. That cut contains the upper part of front legs, containing the femur, and lower portion of the shoulder cut. If you have a hard time visualizing, drop on all fours, and imagine you have four legs. The picnic would approximately begin from the base of your shoulder to the end of your bicep. The cut is lusciously fatty, and filled with of connective tissues. What it means is that if we can give enough time, these connective tissues will break down, and making the meat incredibly smooth and lip-smacking addicting.
I do have to admit that the recipe is rather unusual in that it calls for cola rather than more traditional BBQ rub. But, I have been making my picnic shoulder this way, and I still think it is the best way to cook the cut. In my opinion, the sweet yet spikiness of the cola harmonizes well with the luxurious flavor of the meat. What’s more, after cooking, you are left with the golden liquid elixir, with the maximum intensity of sweet soda and the hearty pork flavor. Do not, under circumstances, throw that liquid away. If you don’t want it, please ship it to me.
After simmering in cola for about 5 hours, the pork is generously salted and studded with cloves and slowly roasted for about 2 more hours. The meat is then (ungracefully) shredded. (I am very clumsy, and attempted to shred the meat with my trusted cleaver. But my incompetency quickly made me resolve to using my hands). As final touches, I gave the meat an ample drizzle of pan gravy, and lavish squeeze of pomegranate juices.
Pile high on your choice of carbohydrates, and enjoy the last day of your long weekend. My hip may be injured, but my jaws are perfectly capable of devouring this luscious piece of meat.
- 7 to 8 lbs. of pork picnic shoulder
- 2 liters bottle of coke
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 large red onion (halved)
- 1 head of garlic
- 15 pieces of cloves
- Salt and pepper
- Put onions, garlic, bay leaves, 2 tablespoon of salt, coke, and pork in a big pot. Make sure that your pork is fully submerged. If not, add some water.
- Bring to a boil, and let it simmer at low heat for about 5 hours. You will see a thick layer of fat floating on top. The best way to remove the fat is to chill the pot in the fridge overnight, so that the fat solidifies on top. The fat can then be easily scraped away. (I stored my scooped fat in a jar, just in case I want a touch of indulgence in my vegetables).
- The next day, when the meat is still cold, curve out the skin, making sure that you don’t cut out too much of the fat. Score the fat so that you get around 2-3 cm squares. Don’t lose hair over small details here. Stud the intersections of the cuts with cloves.
- Salt and pepper generously all over the meat.
- Place a cup of gelatinous stock that we made in a baking sheet or a casserole dish containing the meat.
- Cover with aluminum foil, and roast at for 1 hour in an oven, pre-heated at 350 degree.
- Uncover and roast for another 1 hour.
- Shred the meat with any utensils you are proficient at. I ended up settling for my hands.
- Drizzle the pan “gravy”, and one whole pomegranate juice.