Monday, December 20, 2010

Birthday Pork

I have birthday issues. I like to think I am a relatively well-adjusted person, but I am a bit stark-raving-mad-crazy where my birthday is concerned. I think it has something to do with having had parents in retail or maybe those childhood combo birthday-Christmas gifts. To be honest, at this point it does not really matter why. I fully admit that I am completely irrational around December 17th. This year was not any different. After oh, six months, of whining about the upcoming birthday (Seriously, a certain author  has emails from June), Alice Feiring suggested that rather than continuing to sulk, I throw a dinner party. It was a very good idea as the process of party planning would both distract and focus me. So that same morning I sent out emails extending an invitation. I ended up with 10, including my best friend Amy who flew up from LA to help me prep.

The question then became what to eat and drink. After asking several people for champagne advice and taking a test of sorts, I ended up with a truly lovely bottle of Billiot 04 for me to drink while cooking (thanks Hiram). It was so good, in fact, that noticing my joy, Amy graciously opened a bottle of cremant for herself. Rude, a bit. But it was my birthday and she did insist.

But what were we prepping? Well, bread, cheese, salumi, arugula salad with home pickled beets, green beans with shallots, scalloped/gratin potatoes (thanks K/O) and pork shoulder, along with lemon tart handmade by the eight-year-old and wonderful cupcakes from my friend Molly. Pork shoulder was a cut that had not occurred to me at all until Terry Theise suggested it in an email. Terry had suggested brining and slow-roasting and that was my original idea. But after asking on facebook, the consensus was that brining was unnecessary. After looking through my bookshelf of cookbooks, I discovered a recipe from Melissa Clark, in her marvelous In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. Of course, I played around with it a bit. The recipe is below.

But, first a note about wine. Taking advantage of my work Rolodex, I asked three wine professionals what to serve with my pork. The answers were all over the map:
1 Chianti or a not-too-full-bodied red with some acidity and earthiness.

2 the mustard makes me take it more to Burgundy, though a Saint-Jo or Crozes would work just fine.  w/ or w/o rosemary.
3 I think it kind of  screams for Riesling or an orange wine.......or a Jura white.  Or one of Jose's Canary......or I suppose, Hamel's Pinot? 

For the record, we served a Heidi Schrock Muscat, a Coenobium white, a Bonny Doon Vineyards Grenache Blanc, A La Clarine White Blend, A Hamel syrah and a Cobb Pinot. I actually feel bad for not trying the Saint-Jo suggestion, but in the last minute party prep, neglected to shop. So it was wines I had in house and also, wines from friends. Or at least one's that I had a connection to. Any guesses as to which worked best?

Birthday Pork
7 pounds pork shoulder, bone in
6 not so fat garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard (I used a very coarse mustard from Navarro)
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper

Combine garlic, salt, olive oil, mustard and pepper to form a paste. Rub the mixture over the pork and transfer to a large roasting pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 and let the pork come to room temperature. Sear the pork on all sides on the stove top before returning to your roasting pan. Roast uncovered, on a rack if you remember (and I didn't), until the meat is fork tender, about 4 hours. Due to weather and late arriving guests, my pork was probably in for 5 hours. It was still moist. Let it rest at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds fabulous Amy. I bet a Cigare Volant would also have gone well with the pork. So glad you had a great birthday. if only we lived closer....