4 lb. Pork Shoulder
4 apples, peeled, cored, sliced in half
2 large onions, peeled and sliced in quarters
¼ cup broken star anise pods (save your pretty, unbroken pods for something else!)
1 teaspoon whole cloves
5 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 4-5 inch sprigs of fresh thyme
For the tamarind sauce:
¼ cup natural tamarind concentrate (I prefer Laxmi brand)
1 teaspoons red chili flakes
1 small yellow onion, about 3-4 oz.
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 450°F. Wash and pat dry pork shoulder with a paper towel. If pork shoulder is in segments, place bay leaves on the inside of pork shoulder, and with kitchen twine, tie pork shoulder to a make a uniform shape. If not, line bay leaves under the meat once in pan.
In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind star anise, cloves and black peppercorns into a fine powder. Season the exterior of the pork shoulder with spice powder and salt to taste, by rubbing all sides with mixture.
Place seasoned pork shoulder in center of a large roasting pan. Place cut apples and onions around pork shoulder, along with ½ cup of water. Scatter the fresh thyme evenly to distribute. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, then turn heat down to 300°F and continue roasting until internal temperature is between 180° and 190°F, about five to six hours (the key is low and slow!). Baste meat with cooking liquid every half hour.
To make the tamarind glaze, peel onion and puree in a blender with ¼ cup of hot water.
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat. Add the onion puree, cumin powder, red pepper flakes, and salt, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Add tamarind concentrate, 2 cups of water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, until mixture is reduced by half and resembles a loose brown gravy. Set aside. During the last 20 minutes of cooking time, brush on pork shoulder and let caramelize.
When pork shoulder reaches at least 180°F, remove from oven and let rest for half an hour.
Shred meat with the grain, and serve. Use any extra tamarind glaze to drizzle over the meat.
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