I owe this recipe to Suzanne Somers. Yes, that’s right, – the airhead “Three’s Company” Suzanne Somers. She may have portrayed a bubble-headed blonde in the show, but believe it or not, she wrote a couple of cookbooks and one of them includes a recipe for a 12 hour pork roast. Cooking a roast for 12 to 16 hours at a low temperature produces meat that’s succulent and falls off the bone, but the recipe needed some tweaking. I cut back on the fennel seed, and added some fresh rosemary, an herb that pairs well with pork.
I scored the skin and rubbed the herb paste all over, roasting it at a 450 degrees for a half hour before lowering the heat to 250 degrees. This is NOT a good idea. Why? Because the herb paste burned to a crisp at that high temperature. If I had left the burned herb paste on for the remainder 11 1/2 hours, even at the lower temperature, the roast would have tasted bitter.
So I scraped off all the burned herb paste and mixed up another batch, smearing it all over the partially cooked roast. I placed it back in the oven at the lower temperature before heading to bed.
By the time I woke up, the aroma had permeated the house. I pulled it out of the oven after a couple more hours, when it looked like this, bronzed and succulent:
I removed the skin (don’t throw it out!) and using a fork, shredded the meat. It practically fell off the bone. I strained the sauce, skimming off some of the fat, and adding a little chicken broth too.
And that skin? It went back in the oven for another 1/2 hour to crisp up even further. These cracklins were hard to resist.
Well actually, so was the main event. I served it in hard crusty rolls, with roasted red peppers and other accompaniments, including homemade pickled eggplants and jarred green tomatoes. Along with a salad, all that was needed was a good glass of wine. Done!
one fresh ham butt (or shoulder) 5 to 7 lbs. (mine was 5 1/2 pounds)
3 cloves garlic
3 red chili peppers (or 1 tsp. red pepper flakes)
large sprig of rosemary
1 T. kosher salt
1 T. fennel seed
juice from 1/2 lemon plus the peel
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water)
Score the skin of the ham. Roast for a half hour at 450 degrees F., then lower the temperature to 250 degrees. Mix the remaining ingredients (except the chicken broth or water) in a food processor, or a mortar and pestle. Remove the roast from the oven after the first half hour, and rub the herb paste into the meat. Put it back in the oven at the reduced temperature for another 12 to 16 hours. If you’re awake, baste with some of the juices, but it’s not necessary. Before going to bed, I covered the pot with a lid.
The next morning, after the a minimum of 12 hours (and no more than 16 or it can get dried out) remove the roast from the oven. Skim off some of the grease in the pan and add some water or chicken broth. Remove the skin to a baking sheet and put the skin back in the oven at 350 degrees for another 1/2 hour. Using a fork, pull the meat from the roast, then strain the sauce from the pan and pour over the meat. Eat as is, or serve in sandwiches, with roasted red peppers, pickled eggplant, cured green tomatoes, or whatever accompaniments you like.