Before I start telling you about this wonderful recipe, you need to know that it takes 24 hours to cook the pork. I don't want you to read this, and think what a good recipe it would be to cook for your supper tonight. You need to be a little bit organised, but believe me, it is worth it, and once the meat is in the oven, there is very little to do for about 22 hours.

The other thing this recipe requires is a phone call to the butcher. You need a pork shoulder with the bone in, so call ahead and ask them to keep one aside for you, as they normally remove the bones from pork shoulders. Last time I cooked this I got a shoulder of Gloucester Old Spot from a lovely butcher in Tetbury called Jesse Smith (www.jessesmithbutchers.co.uk). This time, I am having my free range pork shoulder delivered by our local London butcher, Wyndham House (www.wyndham-house.com), who deliver for free in the area for orders over £10.

Pork shoulder is a very good value cut of meat, and comes in at around £6/kg, with a 6kg joint serving 18 people, with leftovers!

1 pork shoulder, 4-6kg
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

If you want to eat this for Sunday lunch, you need to start thinking about it on Saturday morning, at around 11am. Remove the meat from the fridge, to allow it 2 hours to come up to room temperature.

Half an hour before the meat goes in the oven, preheat the oven to 220C (200C if you have a fan oven). Score the skin of the meat with a sharp knife, but be careful not to cut straight through the skin into the meat. Mix the fennel seeds, paprika, chilli, salt and pepper, stir in the oil, and rub all over the meat and into the cuts you've made in the skin. Put the joint into a large roasting tray, skin side up, and pop in the oven. You don't need to cover the meat with any foil.

Leave to cook for 30 minutes at 220C (200C fan oven), then turn the oven down to 100C (80-90C fan oven). It now needs to cook for 23 hours. You will need to take it out a couple of times and spoon the fat that it produces back over the meat - you can do this once before you go to bed, and once when you wake up.

I have read several recipes that ask for the meat to be turned upside down (with the skin on the bottom) but I don't do this, and I do not think it's necessary. Leave the meat to cook skin side up.

When the meat has 1 hour to go (ie. it has been cooking for 22 1/2 hours), start prepping the pickled veg.

2 red onions
1 fennel bulb
4 limes
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seeds

Slice the red onions and fennel into very thin strips (the 2mm blade on the magimix is ideal). Drop the onion and fennel into a pan of boiling water for 10 seconds, remove and drain well. Add the juice of the limes, the vinegar, salt and fennel seeds and mix thoroughly so all the onion and fennel is coated. Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour or two, or until the meat is ready. Drain the vegetables before serving.

Once the meat has cooked for 23 1/2 or 24 hours, remove from the oven. The skin should have turned into crackling but if it is still soft, then put it under a medium grill for 5-10 minutes, but watch it like a hawk as it can burn in seconds!!

Take the crackling off the meat and hide it somewhere safe (otherwise, in my house, it all gets eaten before the food's ready)! Wrap the pork shoulder in 3 layers of tin foil, as tightly as possible, and leave to rest for between 30 and 60 minutes.

The meat can be carved with a spoon and fork, as it will just fall apart.

Serve in a bun with a pile of pickled veg, some homemade spicy, sticky BBQ sauce (recipe to follow) and some crackling.


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