Practical, healthful eating and living.

How to get out of cooking and keep costs down, too. August 29, 2010

When I get home after work I am HUNGRY and don’t want to fuss with making dinner.  Here’s what I do instead.  On Saturday, I go to Whole Foods and look for the cheapest cut of fresh meat in the butcher’s section.  Yesterday I found pork shoulder for $2.99/lb.  When most other meats are priced at $4.99 $15.99, that’s a steal.  Why is it so cheap?  Well, it might have a little more fat to it. It might be on the bone.  But both of those add flavor.  Fat, actually, is rather essential to keeping a cut of meat moist and flavorful.  It cooks off.

How to cook? There are a million ways.  If you have carrots, celery, onion and garlic at home, you’ll always be prepared to make something wonderful.  A lot of roasts do better if they’re resting on a rack in a roasting pan.  If you don’t have a rack, just place 2-3 carrots and celery stalks (minus the leaves) on the bottom of the pan.  Rest your meat on top.

You can roast beef, pork, or chicken without a lot of spices or flavoring added, then serve it with barbecue sauce or another favorite meat sauce.  Even salsa is delicious.  All of these are easy to keep on hand.

If you want more flavor IN the meat, it’s easy to create a marinade out of a few simple items.  Google the cut you’ve bought, or keep a basic Betty Crocker or Joy of Cooking cook book on hand.  Below is the recipe I used yesterday from  I couldn’t be more pleased with how the roast turned out.  It took about ten minutes to create the marinade.  The next morning, it took only five minutes to turn on the oven and place the roast in its pan.  (I didn’t follow the steps beyond roasting for an hour and a half; no extra water, no checking every 1/2 hour, etc.) An hour and a half later, it was done.  (My roast may have been a little smaller than 7 lbs.)  Now I have tasty slices to add to a Romaine salad or a quick sandwich, and it will last me the week!


  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (7- to 7 1/2-pound) bone-in pork shoulder with skin
  • Accompaniment: lime wedges

Mash garlic to a paste with 2 tablespoons kosher salt using a mortar and pestle or side of a large heavy knife, then stir in oregano, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and  pepper.

Pat pork dry. Using a small sharp knife, cut a wide pocket at large end of roast to separate skin from fat, leaving skin attached at sides and stopping before roast narrows to bone.

Make 1-inch-deep slits in pork under skin and on all meaty sides, twisting knife slightly to widen openings, then push some of garlic mixture into slits with your fingers. Rub any remaining garlic mixture over roast (not skin). Wipe skin clean, then rub with remaining teaspoon kosher salt (to help it crisp). Transfer pork to a glass or ceramic shallow dish and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours.

Put pork, skin side up, in a flameproof roasting pan, discarding marinade, and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F with rack (or rows of carrots and celery) in middle.

Cover pork with parchment paper and then tightly with foil (or just foil) and roast 2 1/2 hours. (I stopped here.)  Discard foil and parchment, then add 1/2 cup water to pan and roast, uncovered, adding more water when liquid in pan evaporates (check about every half hour), until skin is browned and crisp and meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours more. Transfer to a cutting board or platter, reserving juices in pan, and let stand 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour pan juices through a sieve into a fat separator or bowl and discard fat. Add 3/4 cup water to roasting pan and deglaze by boiling over medium-high heat (straddle 2 burners if necessary), scraping up brown bits, 1 minute, then add to pan juices along with enough water to bring total to 1 1/2 cups.

Cut skin off roast pork. (If skin is not crisp, roast in a shallow baking pan in a 475°F oven until crisp, about 10 minutes.) Cut skin into serving pieces. Pull meat from roast in pieces using a fork. Serve meat with pan juices and pork skin.


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