Friday, January 9, 2015

Slow Cooked Spicy Pork Roast

By Sheila Connolly

My sister gave me a new cookbook for Christmas. Since I believe that you can’t have too many cookbooks (except for really, really bad ones!), I dove right in. The book is Make It Ahead (A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook) by Ina Garten, and soon I was leaving sticky tabs all through it. I’ve seen her on television on occasion (yes, I watch cooking shows, like Chopped, and The Taste, and…lots), but I’ve never looked at her cookbooks.

I should note that “make ahead” in this case does not necessarily mean quick: the time you save is on the day you are planning to entertain and serve, not when you make it. In fact, this recipe takes a few hours on the day you cook it.

But that’s not a problem. I’ve given you the pulled pork recipe I discovered only a few years ago (where had you been hiding all my life, recipe?), and this is kind of like the upscale version of that, with a richer range of flavors. But the cooking process is similar: rub the pork with spices, salt and pepper, and cook for a long time in a slow oven.

I tried it with the wine-filled pan that the Contessa suggested, but I think I may try it without the liquid, at a slightly lower temperature, the next time around. Luckily I have enough of the rub/paste for a second round.

Slow Cooked Spicy Pork Roast

Boneless pork roast (anywhere from 3 to 8 pounds; this rub make enough for the larger size)

6 garlic cloves
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped oregano leaves
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder (note: this is kind of a mid-range chile powder. You could omit it, or go with a stronger chile—your choice.)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Remove the excess fat from the roast, but leave some (if you take it all off, the meat may become too dry). If you wish, you can make shallow (1/2") cuts in the surface of the roast to allow the seasoning to penetrate. Actually I have this meat tenderizer thingy with lots of wicked sharp blades that was a gift several years ago, that makes this very easy. Works well for chicken too. Also works well for getting rid of aggression and you whack away.

Place the garlic, onion, jalapeno and oregano in a food processor and process until the ingredients are finely chopped. Add the cumin, chile powder, a heaping Tblsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp pepper and process to make a paste. Add the vinegar and the olive oil and pulse to mix.

Rub the mixture over the pork roast (including the sides and bottom). Since there is chile pepper in this, be careful—you don’t want to rub your eyes any time soon. I use latex gloves and toss them when I’m done. (You’d be surprised how often these gloves are useful in the kitchen.)

Place the roast in a roasting pan, fat side up. Pour in enough wine to make a layer about 1/2” deep, and cover the pan with foil. Roast for 2 1/2 hours, then uncover and continue roasting. (Note: the total roasting time will depend on how large your roast is. I’ve found that 4-5 hours is fine for a 3-4 pound roast, but a larger one might take more. You can test the internal temperature if you’re concerned: the USDA had decided that 145 degrees is safe.) Add more wine if needed.

Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

 And there you are! You can save and reheat it. It is spicy, so serve it with something a bit more neutral, like pasta or potatoes.

The way it was, back in the day
Oh, right, there's a new book coming: An Early Wake, the third in the County Cork Mysteries, to arrive on February 3rd. It's about the music in the pub, that once was and will be again. Come enjoy a glass and a song!

Available for preorder through independent bookstores, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.


  1. My family loves pork roast so I'm sure to try this--thanks Sheila!

  2. Ooo, yummy.
    I"m making Cleo's carnitas today. Pork must be in the air.
    Why do you think you'll skip the wine and use a lower temperature next time?

    1. In an odd way, I think having the liquid in the cooking pan made the meat less juicy rather than more (or maybe I just overcooked the poor thing!). I'm happy to experiment further. The pulled pork recipe I use, with a dry rub, low heat, and no liquid, always comes out nicely moist. (Don't tell Ina Garten I disagree with her!)

  3. That's an interesting meat tenderizer thingy. The recipe looks good!

    1. It's something I never would have thought to buy myself, but since it was given to me I find I use it regularly, and it's great for adding flavor evenly. But watch your fingers--sharp!

  4. Do you think the meat tenderizer thingie would make a good murder weapon?

  5. Eew. I think it would be death by a thousand cuts. Not an attack weapon, exactly, but if you could tie your victim down you'd be set. Watch him (or her) die very, very slowly. Or just marinate in a nice deadly rub--a pinch of foxglove, a dash of henbane, some chopped lily of the valley. Tasty!

  6. I've been looking for a slow-cooker pork recipe and thank you for this, Sheila. I have four of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks (including Make it Ahead - for Christmas too). I love them and often adapt recipes from them. I think it's her lifestyle I enjoy, although it's definitely not mine. But there's something lovely about such joy in food and the way it looks as well as tastes.



  7. That cookbook is on my wish list! I'm so glad to see a recipe from it. I've never made a paste for pork roast before. And I always wonder if our modern lean pork is really better when cooked low and slow. A fatty cut, okay, I get that. Was it "falling apart" tender?

    1. It could have been a little more tender. I think you're right--we're finding such lean meat that there's no natural lubrication. The USDA has reduced its recommended internal temperature, which might help with the tenderness.

  8. I love recipes like this! Thanks, Sheila. I have to admit Ina makes things look simple, but she always has lots of steps. But deliciousness results.


  9. Wow, Sheila, Marc and I love pork, and this spicy roast looks really divine. And FYI: I agree with you on the question of wine in the pan. I’ve also found the liquid somehow dries the meat. (Perhaps Alton Brown will someday address this culinary contradiction.) These days I leave out the bath when roasting pork or beef.

    I mean to try this recipe next time I roast pork (which will be soon). Thank you so much, Sheila.

    ~ Cleo