A shoulder to feast on

With the long weekend before Martin Luther King Day, I decided to have a dinner party. Unfortunately all my roommates were out of town, which meant I’d be cooking, and paying for, all the food myself. I headed for the circular and leafed through until I found just the right thing: pork shoulder for 79 cents a pound.

pernilA good spice rub transforms the plain-sounding pork shoulder into pernil, a tender Puerto Rican roast that cooks for a whole afternoon. When it’s done the rich and spicy skin crackles, the smoky meat falls off the bone, and the fat and juices mix with the excess spices to make a sinfully delicious gravy. And your house will smell like heaven all day while it cooks.

I fed five people that night, and so far I’ve had another three meals of leftovers with more to come. At 79 cents a pound, I was able to buy ingredients for Brazilian collard greens and cornbread and still come in under $10. Even when shoulder isn’t on sale, it’s a great deal at $1 to $1.50 per pound.

Pernil recipes abound, but the simple technique I used comes from Mark Bittman at the New York Times (it’s worth watching the video, too).

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