We had some friends over last night, and I made a pork shoulder according to my standard method when there’s not enough time to slow-smoke it to a giving succulence: a couple hours in the smoker and then a couple more braising in various liquids until it attains a passable tenderness. While the spice rub (coriander, fennel, cumin, garlic, black pepper, fermented chili powder, salt) contributed significant flavor to the meat, it’s the components of the sauce—those various things that made up the braising liquid—that I want to write about.
Pulled pork takes time. The essence of great barbecue is a long, slow smoking that infuses the meat with deep flavors from both the smoke and the spice rub, and then sets it off with an unctuous swaddle of tangy, sweet, spicy sauce (whatever type you swear by; I’m not getting into a fight about it). But it can’t be hurried.
Except that it can. I’m not saying it’s every bit as good as the slow version, but it’s damn good nonetheless. And you can make it in two hours if you have to.
Speaking of essentials–like the pressure cooker mentioned previously–it’s hard to beat having a few containers of smoked chicken stock on hand in the freezer. As much as I love smoked chicken (and mine enjoys a pretty good reputation in these parts) I almost love the stock more. It’s like liquid barbecue, yet weightless and fat-free, so it has an Ali-esque butterfly/bee dichotomy going on. It’s mighty for cooking beans, stews, gravy, or anything else that enjoys a good smoky note, and in a pinch it’s superb as a noodle soup base with a little or a lot added on top.
I was going to got to my 20th reunion in Providence, but it didn’t work out. So instead some dear friends from Boston (one of whom predates college) came for a couple of nights, and festivities were in order. I didn’t have time to do multi-course extravaganzas, so I concentrated instead on making single-plate meals of high quality and opening serious wine to wash them down. It’s not the worst strategy.
I woke up feeling like garbage; the cold had migrated to me. Fortunately, I had…