Pulled Pork

So there was this pork shoulder in the freezer. It had been there for a very long time (properly vacuum-sealed, don’t worry) and the warm, burgeoning gorgeousness all around- plus the fact that the smoker is right next to my studio, so I see it 20 times a day- inspired me to thaw it and do things to it. To begin, the espresso-based rub, and then a bit of time to sit while I lit a fire with some of the fallen maple branches followed by a bunch of the apple branches I pruned over a year ago which are now perfectly seasoned after sitting in the field for all that time. I smoked the meat for two hours, during which time I went back to work.

When I went into the house for lunch, I chopped some onion and carrot and threw them into a Dutch oven with many seeds and spices: cumin, fennel, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, star anise, pink peppercorn, and nutmeg, (plus some garlic and herbs right at the end) then deglazed with cider vinegar and put in the smoky shoulder. I added water to come halfway up, brought it back to a simmer, put it in a 250˚ oven and went back to work again. Come dinner time (having turned the meat once about halfway along) I made a batch of corn muffins and braised more greens from the garden. The super-tender meat came out of its cooking liquid, which I strained and then enhanced with tomato paste, tamarind paste, molasses, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Then the meat, all pulled and teased apart into glistening strands, slid back into this luscious goo to be thoroughly coated and incorporated.

When the muffins were ready, I halved them and made little sandwiches with the meat. The greens tagged along, and I diced a mango and tossed it with the most recent batch of fermented pickles- this one all grated fine- turnip, daikon, horseradish, carrot, pak choi, and parsley to make a sweet/hot/tangy slaw. Insanity ensued. I don’t understand why I don’t make this every other day and die young with a giant smile on my face. Honestly, you can feel the pleasure centers of your brain shorting out in technicolor sparks as you eat this, freezing a deranged, blissful smile on your face as you grunt in abject pleasure, unable to form words.

Then there was the wine: a 1996 Turley Moore “Earthquake” Vineyard zinfandel, which I bought a while ago, and though I have mostly moved past buying Zin (even Turley’s wines, though I will sure drink them, especially Marcassin) I must say that this exceeded my hopes for BBQ-friendly; it’s wonderfully rich, terroir-full, and time has turned the opulent zinny fruit into something drier. The overall effect is something like a very fine cigar wrapped in a fruit roll-up, with red and black licorice to play off the pie spices in the sauce. Yee-haw.

This is also my entry for this month’s Joust; the required ingredients are cardamom, brown sugar, and mango. They happily coincided with the discovery of this hunk of meat. I’m glad they did.

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11 Comments

  1. Heather
    April 15
    Reply

    Now when did you go and join the blogroll and start throwing down in the RFJ? This looks like a winner, I tell ya.

  2. cook eat FRET
    April 15
    Reply

    unreal
    i’m just shaking my head in disbelief

    you are too much and i am never ever cooking again…

  3. peter
    April 16
    Reply

    Heather: Last month was my first time. I got one vote- my own.

    Claudia: This was a good one. I’m not going to lie to you.

  4. charcuteire
    April 16
    Reply

    I will be doing a pork shoulder in the smoker in early May. I just bought two pork loins (whole) and we are doing a roast both this past weekend and next, so we will skip at least one weekend for the shoulder.

    The shoulder is in the freezer someplace.

  5. Zoomie
    April 16
    Reply

    You should also submit this to MeatHenge’s “Cook for Me” contest – he’d love it and it’s a sure winner. Kinda like submitting the same term paper for two classes but what the heck!

  6. peter
    April 16
    Reply

    Charcuterie: Sounds like a porktastic spring. I can’t wait to do some ribs…

    Zoomie: Ha! I already did.

  7. Anne
    April 17
    Reply

    Mango kimchee is just brilliant! Great job!

  8. peter
    April 17
    Reply

    Anne: Everything about kimchi is brilliant. Is there anything it can’t do?

  9. Nicolette (Nikki) Miller-Ka
    April 17
    Reply

    I’m a sucker for pulled pork. And an even bigger sucker for a sweet sauce. I like this a lot. A whole lot.

  10. peter
    April 18
    Reply

    Hi Nikki- The sauce was sweet, but not too much; the vinegars balanced it pretty well (there was just a bit of honey in the corn muffins too.)

  11. kittie
    May 7
    Reply

    Great entry – this looks utterly fabulous!
    It’s the first time I’ve visited your blog – I’m off for a proper look!

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