In recent years I've had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica and collaborate with chefs there as the country establishes itself on the international barbecue scene. Thanks to the hospitality of my new friends in Central America, I have truly fallen in love with Latin American cooking. Nary a week goes by without me making a batch of delicious empanadas, and I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate Latino flavours into my grilling/barbecue.
Case in point: for my birthday dinner last year, my lovely wife Kate Zimmerman made a super-delish Pork Shoulder with Salsa Verde, which she found on Epicurious.com. I have simply adapted the recipe for the smoker and slightly tweaked the ingredients list. If you don't have a smoker, this works great in the oven. However you cook it, it is amazingly delicious. Enjoy.
TIP: Celery leaves are hard to come by because in our society we value the stems, so most of the leaves are trimmed away from most bunches of celery before the get to supermarkets. I go to my local organic grocery store and ask the produce person to save the trimmings for me. If you can't get enough celery leaves, the salsa is just fine with parsley alone, or you could substitute cilantro, spinach or arugula.
Serves six to eight
NOTE: You will probably have lots of leftover salsa verde, which is a great condiment for anything else, or, mixed with mayo, is a fantastic dip.
For the Salsa Verde:
1 small tin of anchovy fillets
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped pickled capers (the small kind)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coursely chopped
2 bunches of flat leaf Italian parsley, stems removed
1 cup or more (if you can find enough) coarsely chopped celery leaves
Finely grated peel of one or two fresh lemons
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
A small squeeze (1 tsp) of Rogers Golden Syrup or corn syrup to balance the flavour (optional)
For the Pork Shoulder
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
4 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp Kosher salt or Fleur de Sel (French sea salt)
2 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 8-lb whole boneless or bone-in pork shoulder butt roast
In a blender or food processor, combine all the salsa ingredients and whiz until they are a smooth puree. Adjust the seasonings (add salt, pepper, lemon juice, pepper, or a bit of sweetness to make the salsa perfect.)
Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200 - 220 F. (If you're using a gas grill, prepare the grill for low, indirect cooking, with the burners on one side of the grill on low-medium, and the other side turned off completely, with a water pan under the cooking grate.
In a nonreactive bowl, mix together the garlic, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil, and rub the mixture all over the roast. When your smoker or grill is preheated, place the roast on the cooking grate and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 185F. On the smoker this will take at about 10 to 12 hours, and on your grill we're talking about six or seven hours. When the roast reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the smoker/grill and let it rest, wrapped in foil, for at least 15 minutes but preferably an hour or more.
Slice the roast into half-inch chunks and serve, with the salsa verde on the side.