My inability to resist pork products is pretty well documented at this stage, so when Mr Lemur makes a run to the local shops to pick up some things for dinner, Ready Steady Cook-style, he knows he can’t go wrong with a chunk of pig. This time he returned bearing organic pork shoulder from the Nice Butcher and peas, asparagus and tomatoes from the Overpriced Greengrocer. Keeping things simple, I decided on a Mexican spice-rub for the pork and red rice with vegetables as an accompaniment. They can all go into the same oven and don’t need too much attention. Lovely!

The spice-rub idea came to mind because my good friend K is coming to stay, and last time he visited he brought a wonderful recipe for Mexican pork. That one was a bit more complicated and involved cooking the pork covered, at the very bottom of the oven, for several hours. It was sublime but more of a weekend project. This dish is a bit more practical, so long as you shove the pork in the oven as soon as you get home and don’t mind eating at mildly continental hours. I’m generally happy to eat at 9pm, but if you skip lunch as we tend to you can get more than a bit peckish. On this occasion I had both Mr Lemur and the cat basically wailing at me by the end, but the pork was worth it. Although there’s no sauce with this dish, it isn’t dry because the shoulder should be really moist, the spice flavours imbue the meat, and tomato rice is basically cooked with its own salsa.

Ancho roast pork shoulder

  • 1 pork shoulder
  • 2 tsp ancho powder
  • 1 heaping tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaping tsp Mexican cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • a pinch of cloves
  • 1 tsp salt (plus extra for skin)

Heat oven to 350 F / 180 C / gas mark 4. Mix the spices in a small bowl and then rub thoroughly all over the pork. You want to work the spice rub into all its crevices, leaving the skin free of course. Make sure the skin is scored (your butcher will probably have done this), rub it dry and rub in a bit more salt. Place pork in a small oven dish and stick it in the oven.

Cook for three hours, turning occasionally but keeping the skin facing up. When it’s done, let rest for ten minutes then slice and serve with rice and vegetables.

Serves 4-6

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