The nice thing about having friends who don’t read food blogs, and only eat out occasionally, is that they are happy when you cook them something tasty even if that thing is horrendously over-exposed.
Two weeks ago I stayed at a friend’s house and she was happy when I suggested knocking up some avocado on toast for breakfast. She didn’t mind that Nigella did it on TV two weeks before that and was reviled for being behind the times. She didn’t mind that we have already been past “peak avocado”. She just liked having a tasty brunch that she might not normally have made.
Today I made pulled pork. There has supposedly been “too much” pulled pork around since 2014 or so, but in my house (and the houses of people I know) there has not been so much pulled pork that this was unwelcome. In fact I’ve NEVER made it before. I’ve made a lot of things like it. I’ve made slow-cooked duck legs for pancakes, and I’ve made some lovely slow-cooked lamb shoulder that I have inexplicably never written up, but not pulled pork.
So, to make pulled pork.
Get a pork shoulder. This is easy. The pork shoulder that I got described itself as having the right stuff for crackling. That’s great if you are making a Sunday roast, but TERRIBLE for pulled pork. Try to get one without. In this situation it’s like pubs boasting about having brioche buns for their burgers. I don’t want sweet sugary bread for my burger, it’s worse, not better, stop sounding proud of it.
Get up before 9am on a Sunday and curse yourself for planning something slow-cooked for lunch. Pu the oven on to heat up to 140C.
Wrestle the skin off the pork shoulder. This is the hardest bit. Seriously, next time I’m going to go to a real butcher and insist on them taking it off for me. They can give it to someone who wants extra crackling with their roast pork. Roast pork is the worst roast, they need it.
After a long time with your sharp kitchen scissors and cramp in your fingers, you have an ugly-looking lumpy bit of pig. That’s OK. Rub it all over with a bunch of smoked paprika, brown sugar, and salt. Other optional things you can add include celery salt, allspice, chilli flakes, thyme. The friend who gave me his recipe said “if you add oregano it’ll taste like pizza, if you add fennel seeds it’ll taste like Italian sausage”. If you want it to taste like those things, add those things.
Put this into a big tin, one with highish sides because it’s going to make liquid, and cover with foil. No need to add anything else. Seal the foil round the edges of the pan so that it can’t dry out. Put into oven.
Go drink coffee. You deserve it after wrestling with that pork skin.
At least 3 hours later (I gave it 4, probably nothing bad will happen if you leave it 5), have a look at it.
This is your unpulled pork. There will be loads of liquid. Loads. Don’t panic. You may be tempted to drain the liquid off and do something fancy with it. You can if you really must.
Pull it apart with two forks.
It will magically re-absorb all the liquid.
At this stage you can put the foil back on and put it back into the oven il you’re ready for it, or just eat it. I love food that sits around and waits for you – I don’t want to be a slave to my timings.
Serve with whatever you like. I did sweet potato wedges, coleslaw made with red cabbage (because who does’t like mayonnaise to turn pink?) and BBQ sauce made from mixing up ketchup, worcestershire sauce, tabasco, honey, and soy sauce.
Eat. Not ironically. Just eat it. Because it’s nice. No need to worry about whether it’s fashionable.