Apart from suckling pig, which I can never resist when I see it, shoulder is my favourite cut of pork to roast. Buy it boned and rolled for easy carving although it will be tastier on the bone, and ask your butcher to score a pattern of crisscrosses about 1cm apart on the skin as this helps the crackling to crisp.
1 boned and rolled shoulder joint of pork, weighing about 11/2kg
Olive oil, to brush
3 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
for the gravy
1/2glass of red or white wine
500ml meat stock (your own made from bones or a good-quality stock cube)
Rub some sea salt and olive oil over the skin of the pork and leave it at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F/Gas mark 6.
Roast the pork with the onions and carrots, basting the joint every so often, for about 11/2 hours. The oven may need to be turned down during cooking if the pork is browning too quickly.
When the pork is cooked through, remove it from the roasting tray and leave to rest on a plate or cooling rack to catch any juices. Do not be tempted to cover the pork with foil as the steam will make the crackling go soft (the crackling itself functions like insulation and keeps the heat in the meat).
If you are not successful with your crackling, remove it all with a sharp knife once the meat is cooked and return it to the oven in the roasting tray until it's crisp. You'll need the roasting tray to make the gravy, though, so leave the crackling on the meat until the gravy's done, then return it to the oven in the tray.
To make the gravy, dust the vegetables left in the roasting tray with the flour and cook over a low heat on the stove top for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and stock, and simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to lift up any residue from the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a saucepan (now's your chance to put the crackling back in the roasting tray if necessary) and simmer for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve.
Bramley apple mash
A good knob of butter
650g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
50g light brown sugar, or more if you prefer
Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the apples with about one-third of the sugar for about 5 minutes, until the apples are nicely coloured and beginning to break down. Continue to stir the apples, add the rest of the sugar (you may not need it all, depending on how sweet the apples are) and cook for a few more minutes, until the apples are broken down but not completely puréed. Serve hot or cold with the meat.
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2tsp chopped sage leaves
1/2 a bulb of new-season garlic, trimmed and finely shredded
1 pig's kidney, chopped into small pieces (optional)
50g oat flakes
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
2tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good pinch of celery salt
Melt the butter in a saucepan and with the lid on and gently cook the onion, sage and new-season garlic until soft. Add the kidney (if you choose to include it in the stuffing) and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, season with salt, pepper and celery salt and mix well. Transfer the stuffing to a buttered ovenproof dish and cover with foil. This can be done in advance. Leave the foil on and bake for 30-40 minutes with the pork.
Roast potatoes with the pork or in a separate roasting tray with goose fat. ( click here for the recipe)
If it's still around, purple-sprouting broccoli makes the perfect accompaniment. Otherwise spring vegetables like peas and broad beans from Spain are appearing in the shops now.
To serve, slice the pork through the crackling, or remove the crackling to make things easier, then pour some hot gravy over the pork and serve the rest on the side with the apple sauce and oat stuffing.