This is a Stephanie Alexander recipe. Or maybe it’s Maggie Beer’s. Buggered if I can remember.
Shoulder of pork. Any size, but I get a biggish one as you really really really want to eat leftovers. With the curds. On mashed potato. Fuck YES. Get an organic pork shoulder if you can afford it. I’ve done it with organic, and it’s so good it melts your brain.
If you can’t get organic, or can’t afford it (it is much more expensive), you can get a good one from a Chinese butcher. Get one without the bone, as that shit is annoying. Leave the fat on, but make sure the butcher scores it (ie cuts a heap of slices in it). If your butcher is Chinese, like mine, and doesn’t speak a heap of English, and you don’t speak any Chinese languages, be cool and use hand gestures. They’ll know what you mean. You can do this yourself, but your knife will have to be fuckoff sharp. It’s maddening otherwise.
Get these things and put them in a fry pan (no oil or any of that stuff):
2tbs fennel seeds
1tbs sea salt
zest of one lemon
-> dry fry all that stuff. You want it to get hot enough so the flavours really rise from the pan. But don’t burn anything. If you do, chuck it all out and start again.
Tie the shoulder up with string. Not plastic string. This string will stop it all falling to bits. Which it will. Rub all the fennel/salt/zest into it, esp in the fat. If you can be arsed, leave it overnight in the fridge.
In a big, heavy pan (with a lid), plop the pork on the middle. Pour milk around it. I used about 3/4 of a 2litre container, because I needed some for tea. You can use it all if you like, it won’t hurt it. Use organic milk. Really – do it. It’s more expensive, but only about $3. It makes a HUGE difference. They sell organic milk at Coles, but not Woolies near us.
Squeeze the juice of a lemon into the milk. This is important, as the acid makes the milk split into curds and whey (no way! WAY!).
Put it all in the oven on about 150* – a low heat. Let it lie like a pig in the mud for as long as possible, with the lid on. I went four hours this time and it was neat. Every hour or so, peak inside, spoon milk over the meat, turn the meat over. The milk should split into curds and whey. The curds are big, soft white blobs. The whey is watery. This is where the organic milk is awesome – the curds are bigger, softer and fluffier, more succulent and richer in flavour. It all makes the meat taste better. Also: leftovers in mashed potatoes. YES!
For the last hour, cook with the lid off so the milk evaporates a bit, and to make the meat taste better. Make sure the fat side is up out of the milk. This way it’ll get a bit hotter in the oven. and this makes the fat get richer and caramelly. It’s fucking great.
When you serve it, make sure you eat the fat. It’s amazing. But so rich. I found the organic milk made the whole thing much richer, so maybe eat it with some sort of veggie dish that’ll cut the fat. I reckon a fennel dish might be nice. It’s the sort of dish that you’ll really want to eat and eat and eat, but you should be careful. It’s really rich and will make you chuck. So go easy. Or, you know, don’t.