Recipe: Island Pork Roast for Sandwiches
Serves: 6
Coffee: Pure Black

As we get ready to open our new bakery-cafe in the Fishtown neighborhood of our hometown, the great city of Philadelphia, there’s one thing we want to say: We’ve got an oven, and we aren’t afraid to use it. Over the last few months, John, our bread baker, has been working on our new bread line, which will be on sale at Fishtown. But we will also use John’s bread as a foundation for all sorts of sandwiches, the lifeblood of our daily diet. With its storied manufacturing past and lots of factory workers, Philadelphia has always been a great workingman’s sandwich town, and like everyone else who lives here, we’ve got our favorites.

But we’re also inspired by iconic sandwiches from other cites, like Miami’s Cubano, first transported from Cuba to Tampa to feed cigar factory workers and now an essential part of the late night landscape in America’s most nocturnal city. Although typically made with tangy Cuban lechón asado, there are times when we can’t wait for the all-day marinade process. In this slow-cooked pork roast, the spice rub uses dried orange peel to deliver a shortcut to that citrusy brightness, combined with the same familiar marinade flavor enhancers.

Spice mix: 2 Tablespoon dried oregano, 2 Tablespoon ground cumin, 2 Tablespoon sea salt, 1 Tablespoon granulated garlic, 1 Tablespoon granulated onion, 2 Teaspoon dried orange peel, 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper

4-5 pound boneless pork butt
1 large onion, peeled and thickly sliced crosswise, about 1/4 inch.

Get ready:
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Coat pork butt with spice mix, on all sides.

Using a roasting pan not much larger than the roast (Pryex is great), layer the bottom with the sliced onions to act as a natural “rack.” Position spiced roast in center, and fill the pan half way with water. Place in middle of the hot oven.

  • The water serves two purposes: Keeps the roasting environment moist, and keeps the roast from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan over such a long cooking time.

Roast until the meat is nicely brown and sputtering on top, about 1 hour. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F, and roast for an additional 4 hours. Check on it every hour or so, adding a little extra water if necessary but always in decreasing increments. (It’s ok if there’s hardly any water left by the time the roast is finished.) Turn off the oven, and allow the pork to cool inside as the oven loses temperature.

What you’re looking for is not quite shred-able pork: You want to be able to slice the roast without it falling apart, but the meat should still be completely cooked through and tender.


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