See what I did there? No, if not, you must know by now that our Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl last Sunday making my husband one of the happiest people on Earth.
That is not an exaggeration.
There was jumping, hugging, screaming, a few injuries, an almost broken entertainment center and possibly a tear or two. He was lucky we were in a dark theater room so it was hard to tell for sure!
It was a wonderful day with friends, a great time for the city of Philadelphia (our former home and hometown of my husband) and a really fun game to watch. Even though it has been almost a week since that big game, the excitement and some really good memories of this pork remain.
Leading up to the big game, there was a lot of discussion of what to make and bring to our Super Bowl party. We were spending the evening with fellow Eagles fans and never being one to turn down a good theme, I knew whatever we brought had to be Philly inspired. Our first thought was a cheesesteak, because despite the fact that you can’t get a real cheesesteak in the Midwest, we have mastered making the closest thing to Steve’s Prince of Steaks (which btw is the BEST cheesesteak in Philly) in our own home.
Anyway, I digress, we nixed the cheesesteaks, because although delicious, they do not travel well, make a bit of a mess and need to be served right away which was not feasible at someone else’s house. Then we talked about soft pretzels, which I also have mastered in my kitchen, but again, are messy and best served right out of the oven. So then my kind husband suggested roast pork sandwiches. Which in theory make perfect sense. You can braise the pork ahead of time, keep it warm in a slow cooker (yes, all this RIGHT after I watched “This Is Us”) and people can build their own sandwiches right out of the slow cooker. It really works. But there was one problem, I have never had the aforementioned roast pork sandwich.
Yes. I know.
All you people in Philly probably find this blasphemous. But I am a cheesesteak lover and just never strayed away!
Now, I guess I should explain, for anyone unfamiliar, there are 2 iconic sandwiches that Philadelphia is known for: the cheesesteak and the roast pork. The cheesesteak, outside of Philadelphia, is definitely the most popular but if you poll the locals, the roast pork may be the real winner. Traditionally for this sandwich, pork shoulder is slow roasted with garlic, stock, a variety of spices and red wine and thinly shaved onto a long sandwich roll, then topped with sharp provolone cheese and sauteed broccoli rabe. Yep, sounds amazing right?
I have to say, I was nervous. How am I going to serve a crowd of people a total experiment? A total experiment that frankly, I am not even sure how the outcome should taste. So I did what any normal person would do, tell them I would bring roast pork and then have my husband fly in soft pretzels from philly just in case this pork epically failed.
The pork definitely did not fail. Sometimes I experiment in the kitchen and things are good but not great and then there are times that I totally surprise myself with how good something tastes and I have to tell you that this recipe is one of the latter. After much googling, youtube video watching, question asking and handwritten scribbles of ideas – this recipe was born. And man, was it delicious.
So delicious that before we even got to the party, I was asked if I can make this pork again for Easter.
It’s perfectly juicy, filled with flavor, falls off the bone and even makes it’s own perfect gravy. This one was a real winner.
Just like our Eagles!
Italian Style Roast Pork
- 6-7 pound pork shoulder
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons dried minced onion, divided
- 3 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sage
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2/3 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
Preheat oven to 450*. While the oven is preheating, make the dry rub by mixing all the dried spices together, reserving 2 tablespoons of the minced onion for the braising liquid.
Butterfly the pork shoulder. You can leave the bone in if you prefer, or remove the bone during this step. Spread the minced garlic all over top part of the meat and then season thoroughly with the dry rub. This should be about 1/4-1/3 of the dry rub.
Roll the pork shoulder up and tie with butcher twine, securing every 2 inches. Cover the entire outside with the dry rub mixture, you may have some dry rub left, that is ok.
Transfer pork to roasting pan and roast on 450* for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and pour the crushed tomatoes over the top of the pork. Broil for about 10 minutes or until tomato starts to caramelize.
Remove pork from oven and turn heat down to 325* Add the stock, red wine, 2 tablespoons minced onion and any dry rub remaining to the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover pork with parchment paper and cover roasting pan with aluminum foil. Roast for about 3 hours or until pork registers 165*.
Allow pork to rest at least 30 minutes. While pork is resting, pour all the liquid from the pan into a blender and blend until smooth. If you are serving right away, add this gravy to a small sauce pot to keep warm. Otherwise, refrigerate.
NOTE: If you do not have a blender that is safe for hot liquids, be sure to let juices cool first.
Thinly slice or shred with two forks. If your pork does not shred easily, you may need to cook it a bit longer to get it to fall apart. Serve sliced as is or go full on philly-style on a quality roll with provolone cheese and sauteed broccoli rabe!