Most Saturday nights during junior high I had dinner with my dad and his wife. My parents had split when I was in grade school and I was lucky that my dad got re-married to a nice woman who thought it was important for us to spend time interacting during our weekend visits. So they always put together a sit-down dinner that was usually followed by a board or card game and a movie.
I may have grumbled to my friends about "having to go to my dads" but for the most part, I wanted to be there. What I couldn't articulate then, but know now is that the simple act of including me in dinner conversation and making me a feel a worthy adversary in games made me feel valued. Not always an easy connection to make with a mercurial teen who often felt like an obligation to two parents who were up to their ears in career building and employed a more um..., relaxed parenting style than we do now.
One of my favorite of those Saturday night meals was a garlicky roast pork that had crispy hunks of fat and juicy meat. The house would smell like heaven all day and it would taste just as good as you thought it was going to.
I've been making this a lot lately because it's so dang easy and a hit every time. A "put it in the oven and forget abut it" kind of meal. Leftovers are ideal but hard to come by.
Try and get a roast with a decent amount of fat that will flavor and tenderize the meat. You can cook this longer at lower heat (I've even cooked it all day—8 hours at 250º). You can't mess it up. If it's not coming apart when you pull at it with a few forks, just cook it longer.
Garlic Fennel Pork RoastServes 4 (approximate)
2-3 lb. boneless pork roast/shoulder/butt with a fair amount of fat
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
4-5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Preheat oven to 300º.
Mince the garlic along with the fennel seeds, salt and peppers to make a blend. Rub all over the roast and put any extra on top. Place on a sheet pan or similar shallow vessel and roast for 4-5 hours, uncovered, until it comes apart with a fork.