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.
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.
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.
Pork and roasted squash tacos
Warm 2 cups shredded pork in a little chicken or vegetable broth until heated through. Warm 8 corn or flour tortillas on a griddle or in a cast-iron skillet. Build the tacos with shredded Chihuahua cheese (a good melting cheese similar to Monterey Jack), then the shredded pork, cubes of roasted butternut squash, toasted pepitas (which are raw pumpkin seeds) and pickled onions or very thin raw onion slices. Top with crumbled queso fresco and a little tomatillo salsa.
White bean and pork soup
For the broth, put reserved shoulder bone, half an onion, 1 carrot and 1 rib celery, each cut in half, in a saucepan. Add cold water to cover. Heat to a simmer; cook 1 hour. Discard the bone and vegetables; strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer.
For the soup, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven; add 1 chopped onion and 1 chopped carrot. Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Cook until softened. Add 2 cups shredded or cubed pork, 2 cups cooked white beans (or two 14-oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed) and enough of the homemade broth to cover. Cook at a low simmer until the pork and beans are heated through. Taste for seasoning. Mash the beans a little in the saucepan with a potato masher to thicken the soup. Garnish with plenty of fresh parsley.