Za’atar Pork Shoulder

Truly a gift that keeps on giving, roasting a big old shoulder yields tender, aromatic base notes for an entire week. This is definitely a weekend project that rewards patience and that will make your home smell of the bright earthiness in the za’atar and present itself as a centerpiece in a memorable dinner with friends. We chose to marinade the pork for 12 hours in a grapefruit, mirin, mustard, and miso marinade that harmonized beautifully with the za’atar. We were a little afraid that there would not be enough counterpoint in the blend of tasting notes: the citrus in the grapefruit pairs with the bright citrus notes in the za’atar, the mustard and miso contend with the earth base notes of the za’atar. However, in the end, this was a stunning case for pure harmony, countermelodies can sit this one out.

The first step of the marinade: Grapefruit juice, grapefruit skin, mirin, miso, mustard.

Total preparation time: 45 minutes active, 12 hours to marinade, 4 hours in oven
Difficulty: Easy
Pineapples: 5/5 🍍 🍍 🍍 🍍 🍍
Read before committing: You can cheat a little and only marinade for a few hours, though a full-time marinade really makes this hunk shine.

1/2 pork shoulder, around 4lbs
1/2 grapefruit
2 Tablespoons miso
2 Tablespoons mustard (whatever kind)
1 cup mirin
1 cup za’atar, or enough to evenly coat the shoulder
some root vegetables to throw in the last hour — optional

In a bowl, mix the juice of half of a grapefruit, the miso, mustard, mirin, and grated grapefruit skin. A microplane is ideal for grating, but any cheese grater will do.

Salt the exterior of the pork shoulder and place in a plastic ziploc bag or honestly, any plastic bag that doesn’t leak. Pour in the marinade and seal the bag tightly so that the marinade contacts every part of the shoulder.

Preheat oven to 325F and place the marinated shoulder on a baking tray, lined in foil if you want to make cleanup easier. Generously add za’atar to the exterior of the shoulder until evenly coated.

Place in oven and roast for 3-4 hours until the internal temperature reaches 165F. In the last hour, you can add chopped root vegetables to the bottom of the pan, just toss them in salt, pepper, and olive oil before adding. If you have the time, let roast for an extra hour at 300F for a fall-off-the-bone vibe.

Serve with a bright green, root vegetables, and save in the fridge to add to soups and weeknight dinner.