The main focus of my birthday meal was the delicious pulled pork. I forgot to take a picture of the pork before we pulled it apart as I was busy doing the side dishes, but you can see from the picture how amazingly it turned out. The crackling was fantastic, it was even still crunchy the day after and having pork and crackling sandwiches was amazing! The recipe below is for a traditional pork roast with gravy but I used the recipe without the gravy as I just wanted the meat for the pulled pork bit and it worked perfectly. The meat just fell apart off the bone. I also added in the smoked paprika as I thought it would give the meat a bit of added flavour.
6 Hour Slow Roast Pork (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
2 kg shoulder of pork, bone-in, skin on
salt and pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 red onions, halved
2 carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
1 large leek, cut into large chunks
1 bulb garlic, skin on, broken into cloves
6-8 bay leaves
600 ml water or organic vegetable stock
Preheat your oven to 220°C.
Place your pork on a clean work surface, skin-side up. Using a small sharp knife make scores about a centimetre apart through the skin into the fat, but not so deep that you cut into the meat. If the joint is tied, try not to cut through the string. Rub salt right into all the scores you've just made, pulling the skin apart a little if you need to. Rub with half the smoked paprika
Brush any excess salt off the surface then turn it over. Season the underside of the meat with a few pinches of salt, pepper and the rest of the smoked paprika. Place your pork, skin-side up, in a roasting tray and pop in the preheated oven. Roast for 30 minutes, until the skin of the pork has started to puff up and you can see it turning into crackling. At this point, turn the heat down to 170°C, cover the pork snugly with a double layer of tinfoil, pop back in the oven and roast for a further 4 and a half hours.
Take out of the oven, take the foil off, and baste the meat with the fat in the bottom of the tray. Carefully lift the pork up and transfer to a chopping board. Spoon all but a couple of tablespoons of fat out.
Add all the veg, garlic and bay leaves to the tray and stir them into the fat. Place the pork back on top of everything and return to the stove without the foil to roast for another hour. By this time the meat should be meltingly soft and tender.
Carefully move the meat to a serving dish, cover again with tinfoil and leave to rest while you make your gravy. Spoon away any fat in the tray, then add the water or stock and place the tray on the hob. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to scrape up all those lovely sticky tasty bits on the bottom of the tray. When you've got a nice, dark gravy, pour it through a sieve into a bowl or gravy boat, using your spoon to really push all the goodness of the veg through the sieve. Add a little more salt and pepper if it needs it.
Serve the pork and crackling with your jug of gravy.