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.