Speaking of roasting a whole cut of meat, it’s a familiar exercise in kitchen economy, as a recent story by the Chicago Tribune acknowledged. And the long cooking duration leads to some speedy meals later in the week.
That’s exactly what became of tagine-roasted pork shoulder. After the initial night’s meat-and-veg platter, it was transformed into tacos with my chef friend’s help. Then my husband saw fit to stew it even further a few nights later. Braised, it became so tender that my 9-month-old son could manage to chew it up with his five teeth. And the congealed stock thinned out his pureed vegetables.
Here is the Tribune’s strategy for making four meals out of a pork shoulder roast, often called a Boston butt or butt roast. Available boneless or bone-in, they can be quite large (8 pounds) or small (2 pounds). A 6-pound bone-in roast fits into a large Dutch oven for browning and yields plenty of meat to last for several meals.
Handled according to the Tribune’s instructions, a 6-pound roast yields just under 4 1⁄2 pounds of cooked meat (minus the bone). For the first night, serve slices of pork shoulder, figuring that everyone might want more than a standard, 4-ounce serving. After considering a pasta dish, Cuban sandwich or pulled pork, the Tribune subsequently cooked up a stir-fry, tacos and, finally, a soup, which utilized the reserved bone for a broth and required less of the pork than the other meals.
Day 1: Roast pork shoulder
Heat oven to 325 F. Mix together in a small bowl 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds. Rub all over 1 large bone-in pork shoulder roast (about 6 pounds), pressing the seasonings into the meat.
Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork; brown on all sides. Transfer the pork to a rack inside a roasting pan just large enough to hold it. Pour 1 quart water into pan. Roast until very tender, for 2 to 3 hours. (Add more water to the pan if it becomes dry near the end of the cooking time.)
Remove roast from the oven; allow to rest, covered, for about 20 minutes. Cut slices for dinner; serve with vegetables and starch of your choice.
After dinner, pull the remaining pork into shreds or cut into thick slices. Portion the pork into three sealable containers for the next three nights, saving the bone for broth. Refrigerate.
Day 2: Pork and bok choy stir-fry
Stir 1⁄4 cup hoisin sauce and 1 tablespoon soy sauce together in a small bowl; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat; add 2 cloves garlic, minced, and 2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger. Stir-fry, for 20 seconds. Add 2 medium heads bok choy, cut in 1-inch pieces; stir-fry until beginning to soften.
Reduce heat to low. Add the hoisin-soy mixture and 1 pound cooked pork, sliced in thin strips (about 3 cups). Simmer just until heated through; squeeze half an orange over the stir-fry. Serve over cooked brown or white rice garnished with plenty of fresh cilantro, if you like.
Day 3: Pork and roasted squash tacos
Warm 2 cups shredded pork in a little chicken or vegetable broth until heated through. Warm 8 corn or flour tortillas on a griddle or in a cast-iron skillet. Build the tacos with shredded chihuahua cheese, then the shredded pork, cubes of roasted butternut squash, toasted pepitas and pickled onions or very thin raw onion slices. Top with crumbled queso fresco and a little tomatillo salsa.
Day 4: White bean and pork soup
For the broth, put reserved shoulder bone, half an onion, 1 carrot and 1 rib celery, each cut in half, in a saucepan. Add cold water to cover. Heat to a simmer; cook for 1 hour. Discard the bone and vegetables; strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer.
For the soup, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven; add 1 onion, chopped, and 1 carrot, chopped. Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Cook until softened. Add 2 cups shredded or cubed pork, 2 cups cooked white beans (or 2 cans, 14 ounces each, white beans, drained and rinsed) and enough of the homemade broth to cover. Cook at a low simmer until the pork and beans are heated through. Taste for seasoning. Mash the beans a little in the saucepan with a potato masher to thicken the soup. Garnish with plenty of fresh parsley.