The past few days have been nothing but gloomy in Annapolis. Finally, the sun came out and the lush vegetation outside is basking in it. The butterflies are starting to flutter around my butterfly bush that my friend, Ashley and her mother, Dianne gave to me last summer.
Gidget, my rascally toy poodle has been outside in the yard for most of the day with her beloved tennis ball today. Cha Cha, the labradoodle has been sunbathing on the patio, occasionally coming into the house to let me know that she deserves a treat for “keeping watch.” She was in a fantastic mood, so much so that she let me take goofy pictures of her.
It is also Mother’s Day, but my mother is not here to celebrate. She is vacationing in Russia with my father at the moment. They will then celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary while crossing the Pacific to Vancouver, Canada via a massive cruise ship in a matter of days. Retirement sure sounds nice! Meanwhile, I’ve been cooking up a storm in preparation for the week ahead, among a million other things.
This Jalapeno Garlic Picnic Roast is one of my favorite roasts to make, and it is a hit every time I feed a crowd. There are minimal ingredients, it freezes well, and it can be eaten in a variety of ways. I’ll make my suggestions on how you can utilize this roast in my notes further down below.
The Sprightly Kitchen’s Jalapeno Garlic Picnic Roast
Prep for the roast:
- A 6-7 pound (2 ½ to 3 kilograms) bone-in picnic roast, also known as pork shoulder
- 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 grams) of sea salt, or Himalayan pink salt
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the jalapeno garlic marinade:
- 2 large jalapenos (about 3 inches in length) with ribs, seeds, and tops removed,
- 1 large jalapeno with ribs and seeds intact, top removed
- 6-7 cloves of fresh garlic
- ½ cup (120 ml) of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the marinade, blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
With very clean hands and kitchen shears, remove the picnic roast from its packaging. Put the roast on a disinfected cutting board and pat dry with some paper towels. Take half of the salt and give it a good rub down to pre-season the meat.
(The picture on the right shows the skin still on. After taking photos I decided to remove it)
Next, you’ll need to score the fat on the roast. Turn the roast fat side up to score it, deep enough to slightly cut into the flesh under it. You can score the meat any way you wish, but I prefer to score the fat into little diamond shapes. Take the rest of the salt and sprinkle it into the crevices of where the meat was scored. Set aside to prepare the crock-pot.
Drizzle the olive oil on the bottom of a large crock-pot to prevent the roast from sticking. Add the roast, fat side up, and pour the marinade over it. Sprinkle the roast with a little black pepper for added flavor. Pop the crock-pot lid on and refrigerate the roast for at least 8 hours.
Once the marinating step is complete, cook the roast in the crock-pot on high for 5 hours. Transfer the roast to a foil-lined baking sheet. Then, roast in a 400F/204C oven for 30-35 minutes or until you see that the fat has browned to a sizzling crisp.
After pulling the roast out of the oven, it will be a good idea to check its internal temperature. According to the National Pork Board, it is recommended that a roasts’ internal temperature be 145F or about 62C for safe consumption.
Let the roast rest for at least 30 minutes. Gently tent the roast with foil. The roast tastes the best, at least in my opinion, when it is thinly sliced and served at room temperature.
I’m a little too tied up to be staging photos or editing this week. This will probably go on for the next couple of weeks until things settle a bit.
The crispiness of the fat is what makes this roast incredibly delicious. My worry is that, if it is fully covered while resting, the steam will ruin the crispiness of the pork fat. The thought of it makes me sad, foodie sad.
If the roast you purchase comes with the skin on, it will be up to you to decide if you want to keep it on or not. After all, it is your roast. I decided to remove and discard the skin because my theory is that the marinade will penetrate the fat and flesh of the roast better.
I noticed that skinning the roast in pieces after scoring the meat is a bit easier than trying to skin the entire thing in one go. If you are planning to remove the skin, I highly recommend you use a very sharp knife for this. And I mean dangerously sharp. For safety, I further suggest that you cut the skin away from yourself rather than towards you.
There will be some juices left in the crockpot. You can strain it and make a gravy with it if you feel so inclined. It is delicious!
Hopefully, the roast you bought comes with a big bone. I usually freeze it after roasting, then use it to cook a soup, like a Pozole Rojo or Verde.
This roast also makes for fantastic carnitas. After slicing up the roast, you can put it back in the oven to broil for a few minutes to crisp it up. Then, take the leftover juices from the crock pot and pour it on top for added flavor. Wrap in tortillas for tacos, burritos, you name it.
Grilling this roast is another great option after the crock-pot phase.
My favorite way to eat this roast is with big salad drizzled with lemon-cilantro vinaigrette and topped with berries.
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how wonderful this combination is, and I hope you’ll give it a try. I do think the tomato should be optional though.
Fair warning: my lemon-cilantro vinaigrette is zippy and packs a punch. Please adjust according to your taste.
• 1 cup (235 ml) of extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of salt
• pepper to taste
• ½ cup *(60 ml) of lemon juice
• as much cilantro leaves as you like (I use at least half of a bunch without the stems)
• 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) of apple cider vinegar
• 2-3 teaspoons (10-15 grams) of coconut sugar
Whiz all of this in a blender until you get a smooth, bright, green dressing. This should keep in the fridge for a few days. I add the apple cider vinegar for digestive benefits on top of the lemon juice. You can use good old granulated sugar if you prefer.
Lots and lots and lots of love,