Nigella introduces us to this recipe with a sweet headnote about her amusement at eating the butt of the pig, which actually relates to the shoulder and not the rear end. Pork Shoulder is a good value joint (usually around a fiver) and I was looking for a faff free recipe that did not require separates rubs and sauces and marinades. This recipe did not disappoint on the faff-free front.
A simple rub made from store cupboard staples, I did have to buy Sherry vinegar – but this is now stocked in most supermarkets own-brand range so hardly a big ask but any mild vinegar would suffice. The rubbed pork shoulder gets put into a scorching oven for ten minutes before being turned right down for its 12-18 hour hibernation. I think my Barbecuey Butt stayed in for about 14 hours in total. Once out, I took the rind of fat off, scraped off the gooey fat and popped it back in a 180 Fan oven for a final crisp into some superior crackling. The meat shredded like a dream with the gentlest of forking. The fatty, barbecuey meat juices were then poured back over the meat to give it an extra hit of flavour.
The rub itself was perfectly balance for all its simplicity – sweetness from brown sugar; heat from Dijon mustard; spicy depth from the Chinese 5-Spice and the sharpness of that sherry vinegar. I also added a heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika because smoked paprika is life. Nigella follows her recipe with a sweet and sour coleslaw which sounds delicious, but I normally go for a classic slaw and cheese, additional BBQ sauce optional. To bulk out the pork fest, I roast new potatoes and make a big, fresh green salad.
The first time I made this recipe I actually went hunting for brioche rolls, but these discounted Sheldon’s Oven Bottom muffins appeared in all their yellow-stickered glory with their unusual name. They’re more like a flat, dense bap than a typical English muffin but they were the perfect foil for pork n’slaw. Not a single muffin fell apart under the weight of its contents..
The only drawback to this recipe was that I had no leftovers. I even had to have force myself to have second even though I was uncomfortably full for fear of missing out. The minimum 12 hour cooking time (up to a marathon 18 hours) may sound daunting, but it really is a delicious, relatively faff-free recipe. It reminds me of some of the recipes in Nigella Express.
I have now cooked this recipe so so many times. I’ve started to cook two joints a time to get more efficiency out of the oven. The second joint and any leftovers can be squirrelled away in the freezer for a rainy day defrost. If you are a meat-eater, I really cannot recommend this recipe enough. It features in Simply Nigella (along with these other recipes). The Guardian have also published the recipe in a piece about laid-back Christmas cooking.