The Griz Pork Shoulder aka Clairenitas

The Year of the Rabbit in Chinese astrology symbolizes patience and luck. The pork shoulder is patient while you sleep or ski powder (should you need to leave it unattended) and preparing it will bring you the good fortune of a versatile protein that can be used many different ways. Hopefully the pork shoulder will summon the good graces of the Griz with more powder days this winter! 

If I can impart any cooking wisdom that ventures beyond a specific recipe, it would be to have versatile options at your disposal for when the going gets hectic. Winter is a time when it feels like there’s never enough time to get things done. The nights are long and cold, and when you’ve been out in the cold all day, you want to make something satisfying. If we lack the patience to think through our evening dinner plans (or even lunch options) it’s easy to feel drawn toward fast food. Especially if you’re warm, toasty, and buzzy-wuzzy from the Griz Bar (and you might have a few friends in tow), your future self will thank you for busting out one of these recipes the night before. You’ll reach legendary Griz status with your Highway 210 Pork shoulder. 

Start with a pork shoulder (sometimes this can be listed as a pork butt or blade shoulder roast). Size doesn’t really matter, although smaller will definitely overall take less time to cook. 

Generously season the pork shoulder in a baking dish with kosher salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and whole fennel seed. Pop it in the oven at 210 degrees, uncovered, for at least 10 hours (overnight is perfect). If it’s a larger pork shoulder, you’ll want at least 12 hours. I prefer pork shoulder without the bone, but work with whatever you’ve got. I sometimes cook it for up to 14-15 hours.

When the pork shoulder comes out of the oven, you will need to exercise restraint and possibly hide the pork shoulder from other people or else it might get picked apart due to its delicious nature. It will have a thick crust where the fat has rendered. It may also seem a little dry on the sides, but that’s where the Clairenitas come in!

Here are three options for serving the pork shoulder: 
1. Enjoy right out of the oven: Serve with dijon mustard, apple-fennel jelly (or something similar), a crusty warm baguette, and a salad. Let people serve themselves!

2. Classic Carnitas (my friends call these Clairenitas): Let the pork cool and then pull the meat apart using your hands.

In a skillet, heat a very small amount of oil with 1 large yellow onion, sliced julienne style (google it!). Let the onions start to become translucent, and then add the pork to the skillet. Depending on how much meat you’re working with, you may need to do this in small batches. Keep an eye to make sure the fat from the pork continues to render. If your pork is more lean, you’ll need to add more oil to the pan. Add a healthy amount of lime juice and taste. Adjust additional seasonings as needed. Optional to add diced jalapeños for heat. Finish with 1 cup of chopped cilantro. 

Serve on warm tortillas with shredded cabbage, cheese, a cilantro crema sauce, salsa, or hot sauce of your choice. 

3. Asian-style Carnitas: Follow the recipe above with two important tweaks: 

in addition to onion, add 1 tablespoon of finely diced ginger and 1 teaspoon of fine chopped garlic before adding the meat. As the shredded pork gets added and starts to re-heat, add ¼ - ½ cup of fish sauce in addition to lime juice. This will help to carmelize the pork. Careful on testing for salt before you add too much fish sauce. Finishing with optional jalapenos and 1 cup of chopped cilantro. 

In addition to serving as tacos, I’d recommend rolling into small burritos with flour tortillas, and then returning them to the pan to crisp up. This will make an asian-style taquito and you can serve it with a peanut dipping sauce or thai sweet-chili sauce. 

Thanks for following along for another column of Everyone Eats! Next month I’ll share all my favourite sauce recipes, including a peanut dipping sauce and the cilantro crema. 

Happy powder skiing, friends!