The first time I felt my generation had gone astray was when I received a party invitation requesting that I bring my own meat. The host was opening his home in celebration of some occasion, providing a hot grill and little else. I thought this style of hospitality was tacky then, but we were barely into our twenties, so I rolled my eyes and moved on. But a decade has passed, and my peers are still inviting guests to their gatherings with Google Doc sign-up sheets for all the ingredients that make up the actual party: food, alcohol, plates, and flatware. Plates! Asking someone to a party and then asking them to bring the party used to be bad form, a societal no-no. Now it’s the norm.
But cooking for someone, cleaning the house, lighting candles, pouring wine—these are the tangible expressions of generosity that declare you are worth the work. Hospitality isn’t easy. But it doesn’t have to be hard, either. Inexpensive, forgiving, and plentiful enough to feed a crowd, pork shoulder is a good place to start. This Caribbean edition—spicy roast jerk pork with fresh pineapple salsa—even provides its own theme. Set out fluffy coconut rice and black beans alongside, and you’ve got everything a gathering requires. All that’s left are the plates.
Roast Jerk Pork & Pineapple Salsa
For the pork:
- 2 bunches scallions, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 Scotch bonnet or habañero peppers, seeds and ribs removed
- 3 Tbs. lime juice
- 2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 Tbs. black peppercorns
- 1½ Tbs. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. whole allspice berries
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 (6–7 lb.) bone-in pork shoulder
- 1½ cups water
For the salsa:
- 3 cups diced fresh pineapple (about 1 medium)
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion (about ½ small onion)
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons lime juice, plus more to taste
- Kosher salt to taste
1. In a blender or food processor, pureé scallions, garlic cloves, habañero peppers, lime juice, thyme leaves, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, peppercorns, kosher salt, allspice berries, cinnamon, and cloves until relatively smooth.
2. Place the pork shoulder fat cap up in a large roasting pan and rub the marinade all over the pork shoulder (you may want to use gloves for this), turning to cover every bit of the surface. Cover with plastic wrap or foil. Marinate overnight or up to 24 hours.
3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour 1½ cups of water into the roasting pan and cover it tightly with foil. Roast for two hours and then remove the foil, spooning the marinade back over the pork shoulder. Continue roasting uncovered to develop color for another 1¼ –1¾ hours until very tender—for 3¼ –3¾ hours in total. If the seasoning begins to get too dark, cover with foil again to finish cooking.
4. Meanwhile, combine all the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl, stir, and salt to taste. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
5. After the jerk pork is ready, let it rest for 30 minutes, and then carve into large chunks for serving. Transfer to a serving platter and spoon some of the pan juices over the meat. Serve with steamed coconut rice, black beans, and the fresh pineapple salsa scattered over the top, along with fresh cilantro for garnish.