The trick to this luscious pork from Jessica Koslow of Sqirl in Los Angeles is browning the meat first, then wrapping it in heavy-duty foil to roast.
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1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
5 chiles de árbol
2 tablespoons dried oregano
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 whole star anise
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
5 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder in 1 piece
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 Thai chiles, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Fine sea salt
Three-Cabbage Slaw and Dinner Rolls, for serving (see Notes)
Aioli, for serving
How to Make It
In a very large pot, whisk the kosher salt and brown sugar with 6 quarts of water until dissolved. Wrap the árbol chiles, oregano, garlic, bay leaves, star anise and 1 tablespoon of the fennel seeds in cheesecloth and tie the bundle with kitchen twine; add to the brine.
Submerge the pork in the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a medium saucepan, combine the coriander, cumin and the remaining 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds. Toast over moderately high heat until fragrant and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder; let cool, then grind to a powder. In a small bowl, whisk the oil with the spices, Thai chiles, vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt.
Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry. Put the pork on a rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet. Rub the seasoning mixture all over the meat and shape it into a tight roast. Refrigerate uncovered overnight. Let the pork stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Roast the pork until well browned, about 45 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Lay 2 very large sheets of heavy-duty foil on a work surface, set the pork in the center and wrap up tightly. Return the pork to the rack and roast until very tender, about 2 hours longer. Let rest in the foil for 30 minutes.
Unwrap the pork and transfer to a carving board. Thinly slice against the grain. Pile the sliced pork and the slaw on the dinner rolls, slather with aioli and serve.
The sliced roast pork can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.