Some weeks ago I was approached by a PR to take part in a blogging competition. They would send me two of their client's products, I would create a dish using them and then my dish would be judged against the other competitors. "I'm in!", I said and selected the two products I wanted to use from her approved list.
Time passed. I saw a dish for the competition appear on another blog. I emailed the PR, who responded saying that she didn't know if the specific ingredients I had chosen could be provided but all was well and she'd get back to me. I gave her some alternatives that I could work with, in case my first choices were no longer available and ordered the other ingredients I needed so I would have time to perfect the dish. I should have seen the warning signs and not bothered, since she didn't have the decency to get back to me at all before the closing date for the competition or respond to further emails.
As I had £30 worth of ingredients on hand, I decided to proceed with my dish anyway. It's not quite the same as I had originally envisaged, because I refused to spend more money buying the items that I had been offered. It was, however, bloody successful and well worth trying.
I hadn't had much luck in the past with pulled pork, but my recent hybrid approach to smoked brisket was so successful that I decided to employ that technique. SPOILER: It was the right decision, producing tender shreds of smoky, flavoursome meat.
And, with considerable audacity, I used the barbecue without Paul. He's still a bit grumpy about it too. He's always been the chief wielder of fire in this household and seems to feel that my Prometheus act steps on his toes a bit. It doesn't really - it just proves that I have been paying attention over the last 14 years of watching him, and that even someone undertaking their very first barbecue can make this.
I made a batch of Dan Lepard's soft slider buns, using 175g dough per bun to make large, meal-size burger buns. I think 150g per bun would probably have been a better portion size. I made a red cabbage and apple slaw, in a honey and cider vinegar dressing. They were the perfect accompaniments to the dish.
Apple cider pulled pork (serves 8-12)
3kg boned pork shoulder, rind removed (save the rind for something else)
1tbs dark muscovado sugar
1tbs celery salt
1tbs hot pimenton
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp ground black pepper
4-5 sticks cassia bark (or other smoking wood)
1 dessert apple, peeled, seeded and quartered
1 onion, peeled and quartered
500ml dry cider
1tbs chipotle paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1tbs toffee apple jam (or apple butter, or apple sauce)
3tbs cider vinegar
1tbs Worcestershire sauce
1tbs Dijon mustard
Combine the sugar, celery salt, pimenton, garlic powder and pepper. Open out the pork, sprinkle half of the mix onto the meat, then roll it back up and sprinkle the remainder on the outside, rubbing in well, then leave for a couple of hours.
Barbecue the meat, covered, for an hour over indirect heat, smoking with the cassia bark. Then place the browned, smoked meat in a large casserole dish, put the onion and apple pieces around it and pour in the cider. Cover tightly and bake at 120C for 6 hours-ish*, testing from time to time with a fork to see if it is pullable.
In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients over a low heat and stir until it just comes to the boil and everything is smoothly combined. At this stage the sauce will taste pretty harsh and unbalanced but DON'T PANIC.
When the pork is ready, lift it out of the casserole and into a roasting tin (i.e, something with sides that is big enough to give you elbow room for shredding the meat). Add the pieces of (now very soft) apple and onion to the pot of sauce and mush well with a fork. Add a couple of tablespoons full of the cooking liquid to the sauce and taste - it should now be nicely balanced, not too sweet or too vinegary. Reheat the sauce, bringing just to the boil again. Shred the pork with two forks and add the sauce, turning it over well. I don't like a very saucy pulled pork, but if you want it a bit wetter, add a little more of the cooking liquid. You can now eat it immediately or cover and reheat later.
Serve in buns with a side of slaw.
|You can see the smoke ring on some of the pieces|
* After 4 hours cooking I cranked the heat to 200C and removed the casserole from the oven for 20 minutes while I baked the buns. When the bread came out, the casserole went back in and I turned the heat back down. I don't think that temperature blip made the slightest bit of difference one way or the other, but obviously if you have two ovens or you are cooking the meat in a slow cooker, you can keep the temperature more even.
Deb for Souper Sunday! And then I am looking for a new brand of mustard.