Just after Easter we went to a Jim Butcher Q&A at Waterstones Piccadilly. It was a Friday so Paul didn't want to hang around at work; we met up early to have a drink and a snack in the bar on the fifth floor. We thought we'd have a little sharing plate, see how that went and then maybe have another. The mezze plate we started with was excellent, and Paul had his heart set on pulled pork nachos. Unfortunately the glacially slow service reminded me why we'd stopped going there and we ran out of time to order anything else.
But he still had his heart set on nachos. So a couple of weeks later he came home with some bits and pieces and we made nachos. They were fine, but the cheese didn't melt right and they were a little dry and it just wasn't the dream nachos experience.
After that disappointment, I had to have another go. This version is much better.
Pulled pork is ubiquitous at the moment (you can get pulled pork products at EAT, Pret and M&S) and from what I have tried it is mostly not very nice. Gloopy, very sweet and not very porky. I decided to season it more like a cochinita pibil, with lovely acidic Seville orange juice (I froze a bunch of Sevilles when they were in season for just these occasions) and a bunch of spices. And to get a bit of smoky barbecue flavour into it, I used a smoked brined pork hock and some chipotle paste. And yes, adding jerk paste to all of this seems a bit weird but it had all the flavourings I wanted with a bit of extra heat. I kept the seasoning of the pork itself really simple, because I only needed half the meat for this meal and wanted to keep my options open for the rest. Plus when I have made pulled pork in the past I've felt that none of the seasonings actually penetrate the meat, it's all in the sauce at the end.
Cook the pork the day before, so when you want to eat the nachos it's really quick and low effort.
Pulled Pork Nachos (serves 2 as a meal in a bowl)
1 brined and smoked pork shank
1 small onion, studded with 2-3 cloves
1 tbs oil (vegetable, olive, whatever)
1 small onion, extra, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced or crushed
1 tsp chipotle paste
1 tsp jerk paste (I used home made, but Walkerswood is my favourite bought one)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
Knife tip of ground cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
2 tbs achiote paste
juice of 3 Seville oranges (or 2 sweet oranges and 2 limes)
Corn chips, grated cheese, guacamole, salsa, sour cream
Put the pork and clove-studded onion in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer with a lid on until the meat falls from the bones (2 hours ish). As soon as it is cool enough to handle, strip the meat off the bone, remove excess fat and the rind and shred with two forks. Divide the meat in half, freeze one portion for another meal (also reserve the broth from cooking it for making lentil soup, and you might need a splash to loosen the nachos mixture).
In a medium sized saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until softened but not coloured. And the other seasonings and the orange juice and simmer to a thick sauce. Check for seasoning, keeping in mind that the pork is quite salty and you'll be adding cheese.
Add the shredded pork shank to the pot of sauce and combine well, loosening with a bit of the cooking broth if necessary. You are aiming to be able to pick bites up on a corn chip, so it can't be *that* dense. At this point you can cool it and refrigerate it over night before assembling the nachos the following day. Or just carry on.
Preheat the oven to a moderately high heat - 180Cish
In an ovenproof dish, layer up corn chips, grated cheese and the saucy pork, finishing with grated cheese. I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella: you want something that will melt well. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is all golden brown and bubbling and melted. Then top with whatever else you want on top - salsa, sour cream, guacamole etc. Or all of them. Eat immediately - a fork to shove extra toppings on the chips might be useful.