Sunday, 15 June 2014

Beer Braised Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is bloody everywhere in the UK at the moment, and I have to admit that this has been getting on my nerves. It seems to be part of a tidal wave of barbecue-piri piri-barbacoa-sloppy joe-sweet chilli-chipotle-hickory-bollocks, washing over the country. I feel quite loyal to the traditional British way to do a roast pork sandwich (with stuffing, apple sauce and crackling) you see, and would quite like to shout at the americans about it.

But it does all look bloody tasty. So, with a sigh of resignation, I embarked on this recipe today. When I found it, I was attracted to it because it did not seem either overly sweet or too vinegary. This was something chuffing else.

Just give me a moment and imagine, right now, what you would say if you had to demand sex, assertively and using the strongest, most offensive language in your vocabulary. Go on, think about that, then look at this picture:

Basically, if you put "beer braised barbecue pork" into a search engine, you will come across a recipe by a man called Dave Lieberman (thanks Dave .. and by the way, does your surname mean, "loverman"? Which does figure) and you will also see that its been tweaked and blogged about by a few other people. I can't pretend to have done anything different. One difficulty I had was understanding the quantity of meat involved. As I understood it, Mr Loverman suggests a 15lb piece of meat, a quantity out of the question for most normal people. Would that fit in your oven, anyway?  How many children have you got, Mr Loverman? So I was not sure whether my 1.3 kilo piece would be overpowered. Anyway, this is what I did; and if you want to follow, you need to procure the following:

a big piece of pork shoulder, with the crackling removed. Mine was 1.3 kilos.
A spice rub, made of the following, mixed together in a bowl:
½ tablespoon of salt
40 grinds of black pepper
1 tablespoon chilli powder (less if you are scared)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon chinese 5 spice
½ tablespoon smoked paprika

I'd say the salt, pepper, chilli and garlic are essentials. You could play around with the rest.

You will also need:
a bottle of beer
½ cup tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons french mustard
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
⅓ cup dark brown sugar

Rub the powder all over the meat. Get your oven really hot; I had my fan oven at 220c. Place the pork in a roasting tin and cook it, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
Pour the beer over the pork, into the roasting tin. Cover it all with foil, and poke a few holes in the foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 150c (fan) and cook for 2½ hours more.
Remove from the oven, lift out the meat and put it on a big plate, or dish you plan to serve it in. Pour the beer and juices from the tin into a saucepan, and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer it on the hob until it has reduced by half; it will go thick, dark, and syrupy.

While the sauce is reducing, get two forks and shred, or pull the meat apart. It should be very soft and tender. When the sauce is ready, just pour it over and mix in. Your sticky, delicious, aromatic and rich pulled pork is now done.

As you can see, I ate mine the way it is eaten in the US; on a white roll with some coleslaw. I could not waste the crackling of course. I put that on a baking sheet and cooked it on the shelf below the pork, for its final hour. Then, while the sauce was cooking, I whacked the oven up to 220c and within 20 minutes or so, I had a slab of crackling so golden and crunchy that when I cut it, bits of it flew up into my face.

The pork tasted almost like hoisin. The whole thing reminded me of the classic crispy duck with pancakes. Something about the dark, sticky soft meat, encased in soft and pappy white dough, all with some cool salad, to bring crispness and crunch. Maybe I am a pulled pork fan after all. Now I am dreaming that we could all live in a kind of multicultural foodie utopia! It could work!

Thankyou, America. Although with regards crackling, sage & onion stuffing and apple sauce: you still don't know what you are missing.. I will have to introduce you another time.