The SF Board has a review of a wonderful-sounding meal at Canteen. The meat course was Pork Prime Rib (Niman Ranch), described as "Pork should always taste this good, slow-roasted at a low temperature for two hours = sweet and tender to the bone". I'm wondering if I could get the same results at home. I've made braised beef short ribs in the past and loved the texture of the meat after a couple of hours in a covered Crueset in the oven - can I do the same with pork chops? Or, if this is a rib roast, what would a "low temperature" be? Thanks in advance for your help!
There's a popular south-of-the-border technique whereby you take 1-pound chunks of pork shoulder and coat them pretty heavily in a spicy rub/paste of chiles, garlic, and lard or butter. You then double-wrap them in plastic wrap -- yes, I said plastic wrap -- sealing tightly. Wrap that in heavy-duty foil and slow-roast at 275 for an hour and a half. The meat winds up moist, tender, shreddable, and spicy.
I like that restaurants are starting to get back into using the more flavorful cuts of meat and low-roasting, braising, and sous-vide'ing them -- comforting, homestyle food made popular again.
Slow-cooked pork chops will cook in about 45 minutes, and you can do that on the stovetop (with a flame-tamer, if you have gas). Actually the best I've had were cooked in an electric skillet!
For slow roasting you want a good fat roast, which means something other that the way-lean supermarket pork, though you can always lard it. If Niman Ranch pork is outside your price range (as it is outside mine!), I'd advise doing a shoulder butt or blade roast, preferably on the bone. These are fatty enough to roast right out on a rack, as opposed to braising. You should season it well an hour or so in advance, and set out with a clean cloth over it to keep the bugs off. Then I'd set the meat on a V-rack in the roasting pan with about an inch of water in the bottom, and put it into a preheated 275-300º oven. I don't know right off the top of my head what the per-pound time would be, but what I'd figure on doing would be to just stick my remote thermometer into it and give myself enough time so that I wouldn't have a table-full of hungry people clamoring for dinner and drinking all the wine. You'll want an internal temperature of at least 160º, though at that point you might want to give it a good basting and keep it going until it's REALLY done, maybe under some foil if it's looking kinda black.
The description does not tell you that much. But a couple of points: Niman Ranch pork has more fat (intentionally) than your average super-market modern pork. So if you use that, you should probably protect the meat in some way, such as with bacon trimmed of the lean. A "slow" oven is 300-325F. You could cook a rib roast, or cook individual very thick chops. When I was growing up, this was one of my favorite meals: stuffed with bread stuffing through a pocket cut in the fat side, coverd after browning. Total cooking time: about 1 1/2 hrs.
Slow-roasted pork, at least from the recipes I use, is roasted at a temp of 200-250F for 4-6 hours. I use a lot of spice rub: pimenton, chili, brown sugar, instant espresso and salt. It's fantastic -- so fantastic I tend to keep picking little pieces of it and eating them after dinner.
I recommend trying a Zuni Mock Porchetta.
Meat will be tender, flavorfull and with some crispy parts.
2-3 lb Boston Butt Roast, butterfly the roast and season with herb mix.
2-3 stalks of sage (leaves only), 2-3 T lemon zest, 2-3 T capers, 2-3 cloves garlic. Mince/chop and add s&p, spread evenly on the "inside" of the roast, tie. Season outside of roast with s&p. Let rest in fridge for 2-3 days.
I use a cast iron pan, pre heat oven to 350, heat pan on stove until hot, place roast in pan, want the roast to sizzle. Add some veggies that have been coated in olive oil: potatoes, carrots, whole garlic, etc. Put in oven, check after ~45 min, want to see some browning, if it is not browning, increase heat to 375 until the roast starts browning, reduce heat to 350. Cook for ~-3 hours total. Last hour or so, add a cup of: stock.
I don't know how a pork roast would cook at a low temperature and be tender. My method of slow roasting beef is 225 for an hour a pound, the meat is rare-med/rare. I like my pork med-well/well. The restaurant may be start low and finish high, and the two hours may be only the low temp part.
"I don't know how a pork roast would cook at a low temperature and be tender."
Might want to try this method. We use both fatty pork roasts and (usually much cheaper around here) "country style pork ribs", either boneless or bone-in. They all work well and we really love it...
I agree with the other posters that you want a fatty cut like shoulder or boston butt. We have had great success with a very low oven (200 degrees). We just salt the meat and put in in a cast iron skillet and stick it in the oven. No water, no covering. I generally leave it in at least six hours, but sometimes a bit less or more. As long as the collagen begins to melt, it is hard to over cook it.
I think if you do a search, you will find several threads from the past year discussing "low and slow" pork roast. Lots of good ideas there.
Of course, being in Atlanta with the temperatures in the 90's for the last week and no let-up in site, the last ting I want to cook is a hearty rich pork roast. Although, now that I mention it, the meat does make for good tacos, which would certainly be summer-weather appropriate.
If you aren't going to insist on smoky flavor, you can also shred it and keep it around for fake-barbecue sandwiches! Turns out good fatty pork slow-cooks in an oven every bit as good as it does in a barbecue pit - you won't get that smoke flavor, nor a smoke ring, but just some nice tender pig on a bun with a little sauce beats hell out of baloney sandwich!
Thanks, everybody. You've given me lots of ideas to explore and I'll report back on my results - this may take a while, but my pork project should make my family very happy in the coming months! I especially like the suggestions for using leftovers in tacos and "fake-barbecue sandwiches".