For the holiday meal I decided on what else? Pork! To keep things simple on a Sunday night I decided to make some baked beans and fries for sides. Since it was a holiday I decided to break out the deep fryer instead of making oven fries.
I got a small pork shoulder (@3.5 lbs) and washed it and cut the skin off leaving as much fat as possible. Keep the skin to drape over the meat while cooking… Rub the shoulder with your favorite spice mixture (“Reid’s Rub” will be available for sale on my blog soon) and let it chill in the refrigerator at least overnight. Preheat your oven and while the oven comes to temperature take the shoulder out of the fridge and place in a pan with a rack fatty side up. Drape with the skin so that the remaining fat will drip over the meat as it cooks and keep it moist. Since this was a small shoulder I put it in the oven at 275 degrees and cooked it for about 5 hours until it hit 170 degrees.
In the meantime I cooked 3 slices of chopped bacon in a small pan until crisp. Reserve the bacon and use the bacon grease to cook down 1/2 small sweet onion and 2 cloves of garlic until just starting to brown a bit. Then add 1/4 red bell pepper diced, 1 small can of baked beans, 1 can black beans, 1.5 tablespoons of your rub mixture, 1/2 of a beer, the juice of 1 lime and f course throw the cooked bacon back in there. Reduce the heat and let simmer for a while. I start cooking the beans ahead so that they can get happy with all of the flavors even though they do not need to actively cook as long as the pork shoulder.
Great fries are remarkably easy to make in a deep fryer. I slice them into about 3/8 inch strips and rinse them in cold water to get rid of the starch. Once the water runs clear, drain and place them on a towel to remove as much water as possible. Fry in batches if needed. First at a low temperature (325 degrees) for about 5-7 minutes, then again at a higher temperature (375 degrees) for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels between frying. This is the key to crispy fries… Sprinkle with kosher salt when they come out of the fryer the second time.
Once we were finished eating dinner I decided to cut the pork skin (already fairly crispy just from cooking in the oven) into strips and throw them in the fryer. What do you get? A cross between chicharones and pork rinds but without all of the weird preservatives from the ones you get at the grocery!