Pork shoulder is great value and a beautiful cut and will come in handy over the festive period. Do go easy on the chilli flakes though as you don’t want it to be too hot. Highbank Orchard in Kilkenny make an excellent syrup and this is also delicious drizzled or brushed over ham as a glaze. Please don’t be put off by the length of time it takes to cook the pork. It is worth it. It can be made up to three days in advance so all you need to do is reheat it gently on the day.

I made this pomegranate salad for my Christmas TV show, which will be on RTÉ One on Tuesday 6 December. It is a tasty and refreshing salad with great texture and flavour and it’s quick and easy to prepare. Again, I use the Highbank Orchard syrup, which is made from organic apples. It has a unique flavour so keep an eye out for it in good delis and food shops.

Happy cooking.

Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, with 300 life-saving recipes for super busy parents, is published by Gill Books.

Pulled pork sandwich

Serves six

  • 2.5kg pork shoulder on the bone (you can ask your butcher to saw the leg bone so that it is easier to fit into the casserole dish)
  • 200ml (7fl oz) cider vinegar
  • 75g (3oz) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp black or Szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 heaped tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp Highbank Orchard syrup
  • 6 demi-baguettes, split in half lengthway
  • s

  • 75g (3oz) rocket
  • Pomegranate salad, to serve (see separate recipe)
  • Mayonnaise, to serve
  • 1 Preheat the oven to 150oC (300oF/gas mark two). Put a large ridged griddle pan on a high heat. When smoking hot, lay the pork on top and cook for about eight minutes, turning as you go. For the last two minutes griddling, cover with a large sheet of foil so that the resulting smoke infuses the meat. Remove and set aside.

    2 Place a large, cast-iron pan with a lid on a medium heat – it needs to be large enough to fit the pork snugly. Add the vinegar, sugar, black or Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, chilli, soy, syrup, tomato puree and salt and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

    3 Take off the heat, then remove four tablespoons of the sauce and put in a ramekin and set aside.

    4 Add the pork to the pan and spoon over the rest of the sauce. Cover with the lid and put in the oven to cook for one hour, turning the meat in the sauce from time to time. Reduce the heat to 130oC (250oF/gas mark ½) and cook for another two hours, again turning the meat regularly in the sticky juices.

    5 Reduce the heat again to 110oC (225oF/gas mark ¼) and cook for another five to six hours, turning the pork from time to time until the meat can easily be pulled off the bone. Remove from the heat, then transfer to a large platter and leave to cool.

    6 When cool enough to handle, pull off and discard the bones and fatty skin and then shred the meat into bite-sized pieces back into the pan. Stir in the reserved sauce. This will now sit happily in the fridge for up to three days and can be reheated in the oven at 150oC (300oF/gas mark two) for 35-45 minutes or until it’s piping hot.

    7 Spilt the baguettes or warm the wraps and then add some of the tasty salad with a smear of mayonnaise. Top it off with the pulled pork and some of the rocket and arrange on plates to serve.

    Pomegranate salad

    Serves six

  • 1 firm eating apple (such as Granny Smith)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Highbank Orchard syrup
  • 2 tbsp Donegal Rapeseed oil
  • 1 medium pomegranate
  • 15g (1/2oz) bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • Good pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 Chop the apple into small bite-sized pieces and then put these in a bowl with the vinegar, syrup and oil, stirring to coat.

    2 Cut the pomegranate in half and hold it over the bowl cut side down with your fingers, then bash the back of it with a spoon so that the seeds tumble out. Pick the leaves off the parsley and fold them into the salad and season with the salt before serving.