We started out with a salad of grilled romaine with radishes, hard-cooked eggs and toasted breadcrumbs. You'll just have to wait for the recipe for that one; it's coming in a couple weeks.
The main course was my old favorite roast pork shoulder. I make this three or four times a year, in slightly different variations, but it always seems to turn out amazing. This time, I served it with sugar snap peas I'd briefly steamed and then reheated in the pork drippings and a couple bottles from the fabulous 2009 vintage of Beaujolais (if you haven't picked some up, you have to give it a try). I seasoned it with a mixture of roughly 2 parts black pepper to 1 part each cloves and allspice.
This thing couldn't be easier to prepare -– score the skin so the fat can render, rub with the seasoning, refrigerate overnight, then roast at 325 degrees to an internal temperature of 155 to 160, and finally turn up the heat to 450 for the last 15 to 20 minutes to crisp the skin. When that thing came out of the oven, sizzling and popping, I had to take a picture.
The meat is moist and rich (the shoulder is one of the last cuts of pork that actually has enough marbling for flavor) and the skin turns into God's own chicharrones. Maybe most unbelievable of all? A 9-pound cut, enough to serve seven with plentiful leftovers, cost about $16 -– roughly the same as a single bottle of the Beaujolais.
Dessert was my old pal Deborah Madison's Swedish cream, served with blackberries sweetened with a little honey. The evening would have been perfect if the Lakers had been able to figure out what to do with Chris Paul.
Now, tell us what you did.
-- Russ Parsons
Photo: Russ Parsons / Los Angeles Times