This slow-roasted pork shoulder is a cinch to make: just pork butt, orange, fennel, fennel seeds, garlic. It’s a superb Sunday supper, holiday meal, or dinner party hit.
This pork shoulder recipe takes a lot of time in the oven, but little time from the cook. It’s a bit like pulled pork dressed up for company and is perfect for winter gatherings.–Melissa Pasanen with Rick Gencarelli
☞ Table of Contents
LC Some Love For Leftovers Note
We can’t imagine much, if any, of this supple, subtly aromatic pork roast being left over. But the authors note that, should this happen, you can warm whatever’s left of the recipe in covered dish. While you’re at it, wrap some tortillas in foil and toss ’em in the oven as well. Then shred the pork and serve it with julienned green cabbage tossed with a quick sauce of sour cream thinned with a little orange juice and seasoned with ground cumin, coriander, and salt to taste. That’s what they suggest, anyways. We’re not going to argue.
Roasted Pork Shoulder with Fennel and Orange
- One (3 1/2-to 4-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt) roast tied*
- 1 large orange preferably navel or other seedless variety
- 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 large fennel bulb trimmed, halved lengthwise, and then each half cut crosswise into 3 pieces
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
- Pat the pork roast dry. If your pork roast comes with a netting to hold it together, cut the netting off and tie the roast a couple times around with some kitchen twine. (There’s nothing worse than cutting off the netting after the roast is done and seeing the entire mouthwatering crust go with it.) Also, check your label to see if you have bought “enhanced” pork, which is injected with a salty brine. If so, cut the salt in the rub by half.
- Zest enough of the orange to yield 2 teaspoons finely grated zest, making sure to avoid the bitter white pith beneath. Cut the orange into 8 wedges, discarding any seeds.
- Finely grind the fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Add the salt, pepper, orange zest, and garlic and grind them together into a rough paste. Rub the paste all over the roast and place it in a roasting pan. Roast the pork for about 3 hours.
- Add the fennel and orange wedges to the pan, tossing to coat them in the juices, and roast for another 30 minutes. Turn the fennel and orange wedges and continue to roast the pork. After 4 to 4 1/2 hours total roasting time, the meat should be completely tender and shred easily when you pull it with a fork, the fennel should be soft and caramelized, and the orange wedges should also be caramelized.
- Let the roast sit for a few minutes before carving. Serve with the fennel and orange wedges.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This turned out great. I would not have thought of pairing fennel with pork but it was great. The orange was also nice. The pork did exactly what it said and just fell apart, was tender, moist, juicy, and tasty. I let the roast rest (tented under foil) for 15 minutes and it held the juices very well. My children said, “Daddy, this is really good. What is it ?” It was easy to make and excellent. I did need to wash the fennel bulb well, but it turned out much better than I expected. I served it with spaetzle and acorn squash.
Oh my, how I love dishes that cook themselves, dishes that you start hours in advance, then ignore until they’re ready. When I made the paste with the orange peel and fennel seeds, I was surprised by how much it reminded me of some Indian pastes I’ve used in the past — it must have been the fennel seeds smelling like fenugreek. The whole house smelled wonderful as the pork roasted and we were pretty hungry by the time we sat down to eat. The recipe turned out exactly as was written, the meat deliciously tender, the caramelized oranges and fennel providing the perfect foil to the pork. It actually smelled so good and had been so easy to cook that we were expecting to be let down by the taste, but it was a very well- balanced dish, the meat succulent, with enough juices to serve as an orangey, fennel-y sauce. (More Arabic than Indian at the end.) My guests were silent and fast-fingered, nods and glances silent approval of what was on their plates. We’ll be making this again. Very soon.
Originally published December 19, 2007