I have been to the south (in the U.S., that is) three times now. Every time I leave there, I am charmed and buttered, literally, both on the inside and outside. The first time I went to Alabama in the mid 1990’s, I went to my friend Tree’s wedding, and the barbecue they had there was nothing like I had ever tried before: pulled pork on buns with cole slaw and sauce. I had so many food-gasms during that three day stay that it’s imprint on me is indelible. Mind you, this is before the ubiquitous Food Network and Travel Channel got really rolling. In California, this sort of cuisine was not as common then as ’tis now. The hospitality, too, is unparalleled, even now.
The beautiful part about the t.v. programs now is that they have done a service in conveying these recipes to the masses. I often ponder if people realize how easy it is to make pulled pork. So many of the food shows say that we spend way too much money on cuts of meat that are flavorless, but tender, filet mignon being the prime example. While I tend to disagree with them on some level (filet mignon is a delicacy regardless of their high-falutin-ness), there is something to be said about taking a big hunk of fatty meat and cooking it a long time to make something awesome. It’s so easy that, even if you work all day, it can be done without even thinking about it.
I searched through the grocery store ads this morning, and I found a pork picnic shoulder for $.99 a pound at Smart and Final. This was at 7 a.m. I went and picked up, for $10, a big ol’ pork shoulder with the bone in and fat hanging off of it…just a beauty of a specimen. What did I do? I rubbed it with spice and put it in a 300° oven for 9 hours. Yes, nine whole hours. By the time I took it out (and my house not only did not burn down, but smelled like a palace dedicated to Boss Hogg and the Duke brothers), I had this giant piece of pork falling apart on me, dripping with goodness, and pulled pork sandwiches were waiting for us. It’s like a slow cooker recipe, but made in the oven. Get it ready before work, and it’s ready when you get home. Easy peasy.
A 5-10 lb. pork shoulder, picnic roast, boston butt, or some kind of giant cut of pork with a lot of fat on it. It’s made to roast for a long time.
3 tbsp. paprika
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. dry mustard
1 tbsp. garlic powder
3 tbsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 300°. Mix all of the spices together. Put the pork in a baking dish or roasting pan and rub that guy with all of the spices. Your hands will get caked with it, which makes it primal on some level. It will look like this when you put it into the oven:
Now, and this is important, just forget about it. Really. Let it cook like this for 6 to 8 hours.
When it’s done, it looks like this:
And after you let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes, shred the pork and get rid of the excess fat and skin (unless you’re into to that sort of thing). To shred the pork, use two forks, and stab a giant piece of pork with one fork and, using the other fork, pull away the shreds of pork piece by piece.
I made some coleslaw for this. I bought the packaged cabbage and carrot mix at Smart and Final, and then I made a dressing:
1 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 tbsp. sugar
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the slaw mixture, which should be in a big bowl. Mix it well so every little leaf has some goodness on it. Cover it and put it in the fridge to chill.
Pulled Pork Sandwiches: The Final Project
Hamburger or steak rolls, soft
BBQ sauce (if you make one that you like and kicks ass, right on. If you like a bottled one and it kicks ass, right on.)
Now it’s time to put it all together. Rub the insides of the bun with bbq sauce. Place some shredded pork on the bun, top it with some sauce, top that with some coleslaw, and you will bust your zipper. It takes all day to make, but it’s hands off, and it feeds everyone around.
Drinks! A good, rich red, like a Cabernet, is perfect for this. But, beer, a Coors Banquet Beer or a Miller High Life, was created for this.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino, 2012
p.s. I love feedback! Let me know what works, what doesn’t, or what you want.