Posts tagged ‘pork’
We recently discovered a local farm that produces ridiculously delicious chorizo, and have been enthusiastically exploring things to do with it. First we made tacos with it, and then scrambled it with eggs. Then we made chorizo sandwiches, and sprinkled it on salads. Finally, we were thinking it might be nice to try it with pasta, imagining something reminiscent of this, when I happened upon a recipe for a spicy pasta and sausage bake from America’s Test Kitchen. With a few tweaks, the dish became an amazing way to enjoy chorizo, pasta, and all the spicy, cheesy warmth of a good casserole.
When I first came across this recipe, I was skeptical about putting a maple syrup sauce on top of my pork chop. But then I started playing a mental game of six-degrees-of-culinary-separation, and I thought well, pork – bacon – pepper bacon – maple bacon…sounds like it could work! Throw in some cider vinegar to complement the pork and tame the sweetness of the maple syrup, some shallots and thyme, and you’ve got yourself something endlessly more delicious than ye old plain-jane pork chops of my youth.
When we prepared our first pork shoulder for the Fourth of July, I realized that there are actually quite a few cuts of pork that I’ve never cooked with, which is surprising given how much we like pork around here. We decided to continue the “summer of pork” by roasting a pork loin for the first time (I know it’s a little hot to be roasting in the oven, but it only takes 3o minutes at 375!), and I was delighted to learn how versatile and simple this cut of pork and cooking method can be.
This Fourth of July, we found ourselves without plans for a potluck, barbecue or family get together. This was totally ok by me for a change, but I did want to preserve a little tradition, at least by making some semblance of a to-do about it, since my usual fourth’s of july rely heavily on a barbecue, copious fireworks, a chocolate butterscotch bundt cake, and a generous sprinkling of sangria. So, to maintain a sense of celebration, we decided to try something new: pulled pork! I happen to love a good pulled pork sandwich, so I figured now was as good a time as any to learn how to do it.
However, a google search of pulled pork recipes quickly revealed that there are a dizzying number of ways to make it, and everybody seems to think theirs is the best. As a pulled pork enthusiast but a total virgin at making it myself, this makes it pretty friggin difficult to figure out the best/easiest/traditionalest version to try. As far as I’ve gathered, there are several ways to attack a pork shoulder:
1) Most traditionally, on the grill (we are ill-equipped for this, so it wasn’t an option for now)
2) In a slow-cooker, with or without searing it first. I gather that the Splendid Table’s unseared, slow-cooker “ultimate cheater” pulled pork is a well-loved recipe, and can maybe be improved by searing it first, but you can also check out Martha’s slow-cooker version here (slow-cooker appeals to me, and will star in its own post as soon as we’re ready for more pulled pork)
3) In a dutch oven, also à la Martha (we don’t have one for the time being)
4) In a roasting pan in the oven– there are many ways to do it, but I figured I could count on Cook’s Illustrated‘s indoor pulled pork recipe
5) On the stovetop, à la Simply Recipes, which I trust, and which seems quickest (about 2 to 3 hours start to finish) although this method will result in no crunchy bits in the finished pork.
Given these options, and after a ton of internet comparison, I decided that for our first pulled pork, I would try the Cook’s Illustrated oven version, which I dub the rub n’ roast. Instructions follow, both for a little roast like the one we used (2 lbs, only makes 4 sandwiches) and for a more standard, 4-6 lb pork shoulder. This method features a seasoned brining (to keep things moist), a wet and dry rub (for flavor), a covered roasting period (simulating a dutch oven), and an uncovered roasting period (for developing a crunchy crust) before shredding and saucing, and it produces a fabulously flavorful pork shoulder with those oh-s0-lovely crispy bits. Once the meat is rested and shredded, you can toss it with your favorite barbecue sauce (bottled or make your own), and I like that you have the flexibility to use a sauce you like (also, you can leave some of it unsauced and use it for all kinds of other applications if you have leftovers). We thought this method was great for its ability to produce a shoulder with deep pulled pork flavors, melt-in-your-mouth shreddable-ness, and crunchy bits, but also for its accessibility to those of us who are either new to pulled pork, or lacking in certain equipment. Stay tuned for part 2 in this series, where I will try pullin’ some pork in a slow cooker.