Single protein, several days

I was swamped with work and my wife had it significantly worse than me.  When I first realized how scarce time would be my thoughts immediately moved to dinner.  Would we order delivery or pick up?  Would we eat out?  I decided to tweak the way cooked this week.

Accidentally backing my way into classical sauces (post forthcoming) was fortuitous.  It’s changed the way I think.  I decided to cook a single, large piece of meat and vary the accoutrement over the next few dinners.  This reminds me of a point I encountered a long time ago in Tom Colicchio’s Think Like a Chef.  He writes (sorry, can’t find the page number using Google Books):

Believe it or not, I rarely begin with the thought, Gee, I’ve got some beef.  How should I serve it?  The proteins — beef, lamb, chicken, fish — are the constants.  What do change frequently, bringing the color and excitement of the changing seasons, are the vegetables.  So, vegetables make up the building blocks that spark our imagination and let us fly.

Pork shoulder fit the bill.  I slow cooked it in the oven overnight and then shredded it in the morning.  (If our oven was electric and not gas I’d have done the cooking while I was awake.)

We got a few meals out of it.  One night I put out tortillas, pico de gallo, goat’s milk cheese, Greek yogurt, and shredded lettuce.  The next night I served it with an orange and cumin sauce of Spanish origin (from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything).  For lunch the next day I warmed some of the pork in brown rice tossed with olive oil, parsley, toasted almonds, and chopped dates.  That night I used the pre-cooked meat and the juices — straining out the fat, of course — to make pork adobo.  I froze the rest as insurance, to be used within a few weeks.

I wrote this up because I like the idea of cooking ahead but I don’t want to go as far as the once-a-month crowd.  There are other, intermediate solutions.

Forward-looking pork shoulder

Ingredients

  • Pork shoulder
  • Salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat an oven to 225 degrees F.
  2. Score the fat and season very generously.
  3. Heat a large pot — e.g. this and preferably one with a lid — on the stove with some vegetable oil.  Sear all sides of the meat.
  4. Place the meat skin-side up and bake.
  5. When the meat has cooked, remove the remaining fat from the top and crisp in a pan.  Shred the remainder and refrigerate.
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