One meat, four meals

  • Article by: JOE GRAY and CINDY DAMPIER , Chicago Tribune
  • Updated: January 15, 2014 - 3:58 PM

Efficiency rules in the kitchen when you plan ahead. Roast a pork shoulder and build dinner for several nights from the results.

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Cut slices of roast pork for dinner; serve with vegetables and starch of your choice.

Photo: Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune,

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It’s a familiar kitchen economy strategy: Roast a chicken (or buy a rotisserie bird at the supermarket), then turn it into three meals.

Not as familiar is following that same approach with another meat, and the best of these, in our thinking, is a pork roast, specifically the shoulder, with its rich texture thanks to its generous fat.

Often called a Boston butt or butt roast, a pork shoulder roast can be bought boneless or bone-in. They can be quite large (8 pounds) or small (2 pounds). We like a 6-pound bone-in roast (you will need the bone to make soup later). It fits into a large Dutch oven for browning and yields plenty of meat to last several meals.

Here we take a pork shoulder, roast it off, then break it down into four meals, each designed to feed a family of four. Our 6-pound roast yielded just under 4 pounds of cooked meat (minus the bone).

For the first night, we served slices of pork shoulder and figured everyone might want more than a standard 4-ounce serving. That still left plenty for subsequent nights. You can go many ways, of course. A pasta dish, a Cuban sandwich, pulled pork. We picked a stir-fry, tacos and, finally, a soup, which utilized the reserved bone for a broth and required less of the pork than the other meals.

A bonus is that after the first meal, the cooking and assembly of the other dishes is quick — another economy we love.

Day 1

Roast pork shoulder

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together in a small bowl 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds. Rub all over a large bone-in pork shoulder roast (about 6 pounds), pressing the seasonings into the meat.

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork; brown on all sides. Transfer the pork to a rack inside a roasting pan just large enough to hold it. Pour 1 quart water into pan. Roast until very tender, 2 to 3 hours. (Add more water to the pan if it becomes dry near the end of the cooking time.)

Remove roast from the oven; allow to rest, covered, about 20 minutes. Cut slices for dinner; serve with vegetables and starch of your choice.

After dinner, pull the remaining pork into shreds or cut into thick slices. Portion the pork into three sealable containers for the next three nights, saving the bone for broth. Refrigerate.

Day 2

Pork and bok-choy stir-fry

Stir ¼ cup hoisin sauce and 1 tablespoon soy sauce together in a small bowl; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat; add 2 minced garlic cloves and 2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger. Stir-fry, 20 seconds. Add 2 medium heads of bok choy, cut in 1-inch pieces; stir-fry until beginning to soften.

Reduce heat to low. Add the hoisin-soy mixture and 1 pound cooked pork, sliced in thin strips (about 3 cups). Simmer just until heated through; squeeze half an orange over the stir-fry. Serve over cooked brown or white rice garnished with plenty of fresh cilantro, if you like.

Day 3

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