Summer break is a relief after cramming for all those finals, but sometimes in the first couple weeks of break I find myself looking for things to do. This weekend was not such an occasion.
The Northern California CrossFit Regional Competition fell on this past weekend, along with my dad’s birthday, a Kitchen Hana job, and a house/dog-sitting gig. The athletes weren’t the only ones strategizing those three days—I had to make the cakes and frosting ahead of time, decorate them on separate nights (after being gone all day), make time to walk the dogs in the early hours of the morning, and cook enough food to bring for lunches. Yes, I know, I have a very hard life. As is usual with seemingly stressful situations, everything went smoothly, minus the massive headache I had the first couple of days. Not to mention the fact that Jonji accidentally spilled my entire mug of coffee onto the floor of my car on the way over the hill on Saturday morning, leaving me livid and without the nectar of life. The staff of the San Jose State Event Center threw a wrench in our plans when they decided to enforce the No Food or Drink rule. Panic ensued in the Hana, Dawn, and Bailey circle. Luckily, we were able to avoid such an end-of-the-world situation by making Jonji and Matt our pack mules, as athletes and team managers are allowed to bring food in. Disaster averted.
The weekend ended with a lot of impressive performances from the athletes of Northern California, and a little cake and ice cream for the O’Regan family. Clearly our priorities are in the right place.
I love to cook, but sometimes I don’t want to (or can’t, in the Regionals situation) devote three hours of my day to one meal. On such occasions, I look for recipes that take less than an hour to make or, in this case, a recipe that lets the oven to do all the work for me. Slow-roasted pork is not only easy, but immensely tasty. I made this on Thursday night, before the crazy weekend, and threw it into a container with some rice and cooked kale—it lasted the whole weekend!
Slow Roasted Spicy Pulled Pork
3.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder
1.5 tsp coriander seeds
1.5 tsp black peppercorns
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp mustard seeds
1.5 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp salt
1 cup orange juice
Note: this pork takes 6 hours to roast in the oven, so plan your day accordingly. Since the oven stays at such a low heat, I think it’s safe to say that you can leave the house for short amounts of time during the roasting. However, I am no firefighter, nor am I in any way an authority on oven safety—you know your oven better than I do. That being said, if your oven is likely to explode at 200°F, you might want to consider buying a new one.
Make the pork rub the night before: combine coriander, cumin, and mustard seed in a small pan. Toast over medium heat until the seeds start to pop and look a bit browned. Grind in a mortar and pestle along with the pepper, salt, and chili flakes.* Place the pork in a medium or large bowl and rub with the spices (yes, with your bare hands) until each side is coated. Refrigerate overnight.
Next day: preheat the oven to 200°F. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Pour in a couple glugs of olive oil and place the entire pork shoulder in the pot. Brown each side of the shoulder until there is no longer raw meat showing. Turn off the heat, place the lid on the pot, and insert it into the oven. Roast for six hours. (I like to start mine no later than 1:00 PM, which allows us to eat around 7:30 or 8:00).
After 6 hours, remove roasted pork from the oven and place on the stove over medium heat. Take out the obvious chunks of pure fat with tongs and break up the shoulder, which at this point should easily come apart in shreds. Pour in the orange juice and continue to stir the pork occasionally, breaking up the larger chunks as you go. Cook until all the juices have been sucked up by the meat, roughly half an hour.
Eat inside soft corn tortillas with other taco accompaniments, or with sweet potato mash and kale salad. Or just save it for eating with fried eggs for breakfast.
*Never, and I mean never, toast the chili flakes. If you breathe in the chili-ed air, you will think your lungs have entirely collapsed.