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Pork, Glorious Pork

A couple of things, fellow chowhounds. Where in Boston/NE can I get pork with skin on (not just belly or shoulder) that delivers a lovely brown, crispy crackling when roasted?

And, while we're on the topic, can anyone tell me why the British Isles tradition of pork roast with skin (crackling) didn't make it across the pond?

Truth to tell, with most pork so lean these days, I tend towards the shoulder, which roasts up lovely and crispy and fall apart tender if done right. Much more flavorful than the more expensive roast.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Call John Dewar, in Newton, and they'll prep it for you any way you'd like.

    1. i recently made an amazing pork shoulder with skin on. skin crackled great. the recipe was from this month's issue of gourmet. the pork was from savenor's. as we debated on here, i paid a dollar more per pound than i would have at a supermarket but the meat was so good it was totally worth it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: cambridgeMike

        Like at Savenor's, you'll pay top-dollar at Dewar, but also will get top quality. Sometimes I have a hard time justifying paying close to $40 for a rack of lamb at Dewar, versus $14 at Costco, but their meat is oh so good.

        1. re: cambridgeMike

          sorry, slightly o/t, but was the recipe for the garlic roasted pork shoulder?

          1. re: Scruffy The Cat

            yeah, it was the garlic roasted pork shoulder. came out great.

        2. I assume you mean fresh ham, or leg of pork. It's *very* difficult to get in the Boston area except at Christmas. Beats me why. It's always available in markets where my parents live on Long Island. The lack of it in Boston is one of the more curious food oddities of this locale. I attribute it to the relatively low representation (compared to most northern American metropolitan areas) of Central European gentiles in this area.

          It should be a standard item available in most markets. If more Bostonians knew what they were missing in the form of the fresh ham, they'd demand it. But the lack perpetuates the lack of demand.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Karl S

            You can get pork butt at Market Basket and it's very reasonable. Also, I've heard McKinnons in Davis Square will get you just about anything.

            1. re: 4chowpups

              Pork butt is shoulder, not the rear leg. A Boston butt is a shoulder cut. Roasts from the leg (ham - whether uncured (fresh) or cured) are quite different.

          2. Super 88 carries fresh skin-on picnic legs at all times. Price I saw yesterday at the Packards Corner store was, I believe, $2.99 per pound.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              But that cut is not a fresh ham - the rear leg.

              1. re: Karl S

                I never said it was. The OP was asking about pork roasts with skin on, not specifically for fresh hams.

            2. I hate to post off-topic, but if you are a pork fan, you must try the hams from Vermont Smoke & Cure. I use their ham, bacon and italian sausage regularly. I actually had their ham as a roast for lunch today. More info at:



              1. DQ1978 has posted some recommendations for preparing pork, and her post has been moved to the Home Cooking board: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/437584

                1. You can get a fresh ham at Dewar but for a very cheap and good one just drive to a Brazilian market in Framingham (Gol on 135 is very good).

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: emilief

                    Mmmmm.... pork.

                    Can anyone provide a translation for pork leg in Portuguese? I'd like to be able to make my wishes known without the embarrassing charades/pantomime routine, especially if "pork leg" is involved. Pointing to one's own leg and making porky sounds seems especially awkward in this context.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      I will ask my DIL who is from Brazil. Also I think that my computer has a translation thing- will answer tonight.

                      1. re: emilief

                        Thanks -- I trust the DIL more than the computer-based translation. I've had a few exciting times using those translations, usually at a butcher's counter.

                      2. re: yumyum

                        Pernil. Usually Brazilian markets will carry the Picnic, although the butcher shop at that particular Gol is better than the one in Somerville. (The butcher on Middlesex in Medford is probably the best brazilian butcher closer to Somerville, although Gol is cheaper)

                        FWIW, a whole ham would be called a "tender" in (brazilian) Portuguese as far as I know, but that would always be cured. Presunto is dry-cured ham in Portugal, but normal smoked/wet-cured ham in Brazil (which would be fiambre in Portugal). Pork bits can be a bit tricky in Portuguese, so maybe oinking and pointing might be easier.

                        FWIW, although the Somerville Market Basket tends to carry Pork Picnics, the Chelsea one often has bone-in Butt (they were labeling this fresh ham, but its the shoulder and not the rear leg). I think Johnny's often carries Pork Butts too.

                        And McKinnon's will get you a fresh ham with a days notice or so.

                        1. re: itaunas

                          You're exactly who I was hoping would chime in. Thanks itaunus!

                          1. re: yumyum

                            Hey, thanks everyone for your replies. Will let you know how I make out with the Brazilian markets.

                            1. re: keencook1

                              Please do report back. Cooks Illustrated July/August 2006 has a great-sounding Cuban charcoal-grilled pork picnic recipe that I'd love to try.

                    2. Pork shoulder with bone in is very inexpensive. We find it at the supermarket,like Shaws. Gourmet cookbook has a bunch of really good recipes- all of which are slow braised and the cubano version gets you a nice crisp skin. All you need is time for it to slowly cook.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: whynotplay

                        By contrast, the wonderful thing about the fresh ham leg cut is that it is not a tough cut requiring such treatment. It can be roasted in a more straightforward way. Actually, it takes to about everything except pan-frying (though you can pan fry slices from that leg, too, just like cured ham slices). That's why it's soooo strange for people who come from areas where the fresh ham is a very commonly available cut to find the near dearth of availability on the shelves around here.