When I was growing up in the 1970s, my family dined regularly on oven roasted pork chops which were pale gray in color, dry, and utterly flavorless. Were there no sauces or marinades, you ask? Alas, such comestibles were not permitted in suburban New Jersey until the 1990s, following the integration of other exotic foods such as roasted red peppers. And Ranch dressing. It wasn't until many years later—at a friend's wedding in the deep south—that I came to appreciate pig meat's full and glorious potential. The pulled pork served at that wedding reception was so amazingly delicious, the memory of it has actually eclipsed many of the ceremony's other details. (Though not the part where I drunkenly threw a chair into a swimming pool during the peak of the afterparty. Certain friends have made it difficult for me to forget about that, regardless of my many years of effort.)
Anyway, I didn't have the foggiest notion of what I'd end up doing with an entire pork shoulder, so I took it home and threw it into the back of the freezer, where it was promptly forgotten. Then, last week, my wife came home with some hastily scrawled notes on a sheet of legal paper. This wasn't a recipe—at least not the kind that I'm used to dealing with. No, this was just a short list of spices recommended by a colleague of hers. At the bottom of the sheet were the words "oil", "oven", "300 degrees", and "don't touch for three hours".
We were ready.
To a medium mixing bowl, we added generous quantities of chopped fresh cilantro, powdered garlic, black pepper, Adobo, oregano, and Sazon con Cilantro. (It's in the Goya section.) Then we added enough vegetable oil to mix it all into a pasty rub, which was then massaged into all sides of the pork shoulder. We poked a haphazard series of slits into the roast and randomly inserted quartered cloves of garlic into them. We probably used 7-8 cloves in total, but this was a bigass hunk of meat. If you're garlic-phobic, use less.
After marinating it all day, we plopped it skin side up into the big cast-iron baking dish, dialed up a slow n' low 300 degrees on the oven, and then let all the wonderful flavors slowly melt into one another for the next 3.5 hours. Although longer cooking time would've yielded a more shreddable consistency, I could tell just by the look of it that some seriously juicy delights would soon be plated.
Lacking any knowledge of the bone structure lurking within this mighty pile of flesh, (and now being too hungry to bother with further research), I chose a side at random and began cutting. The magnificent slices that slid effortlessly from the carving knife were a sight to behold, and I'd amassed a significant pile of meat before the first appearance of bone. We plated it up with sauteed greens and rice (the latter seasoned with more of the Sazon con Cilantro, which turned it pink!) and a juicy good time was had by all. After the roast had cooled, I tore into the remains bare-handed and wound up with a big bone resembling a prop from either the Flintstones, or the first 20 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. As of this writing, that bone is resting comfortably in the freezer, waiting for the next day that's cool enough to make broth. Or perhaps we should just get a dog.