Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Saturday was just one of those days. Friday had been fine, but by not visiting the butcher's early, I was in a real bind. I hoped they'd have something called "pork butt shoulder roast", and having seen pictures of it -- I thought they might.

We usually call on the butcher by around 10 in the morning. The store-front's in a fancy 80's mini-mall, and always well lit. The butcher's a friendly guy who, after I asked for "3 pounds of pork butt shoulder roast" gladly walked me to the fridge section and pointed to a well-wrapped package. I picked one up. It weighted 1.795KG, which to my addled brain seemed about the right weight. It also had a bone in the middle of it - so I guess this was a "bone-in pork butt shoulder roast". It didn't look round, or very much like a Sunday roast; but I'm not the type to question the experts, at least not in their shop so close to the knives.

I bought it - along with other ingredients for my menu of the week.

Conscious of the time, we got home by 11, and everything was put away by around 11:30; so I dug right in. Onions and garlic are always at my house. The recipe called for 1 large onion, I used up 3 smaller ones who were waiting in the pantry. Unwrapping them always makes me cry, but a few minutes under the knife leaves the onions fanned out and reduced to bits. Six cloves of garlic were then smashed and disrobed by the same chef's knife. I found that very therapudic, although I doubt the garlic would agree.

The serrano chiles were frosty, but I ignored their attitude. I quartered 2 lenthwise, scraped out the seeds and diced them fine. The recipe calls for picked jalapeno peppers - but I don't like pickled peppers and I'm a spice-wimp, so the choice of a lower-heat chile made sense to me. I dumped the onion, garlic and chiles into a 4 cup measure. To this I added the rest of the spice ingredients, pausing only a minute to open a new can of tomato paste with an unwilling can opener. It squeeled displeasure throughout the process, but it was a small can and I didn't give the can opener any options.

With everything in the 4 cup measure, I brought out the big guns: my emersion blender. After finding an outlet (it was cowering behind dirty dishes and my kitchen-aid mixer), I powered it up and worked over the sauce ingredients. It took a while to get everything smoothed out, but near the end the sauce began looking more and more like barbeque sauce. Smelled like it too.

When it was done, I wiped off the emersion blender, unplugged it and rinsed the business end before putting it away. After unwrapping the pork butt shoulder roast from its cellophane container, I put the meat into a deep pot. I then poured in the sauce and filled the now-empty 4 cup measure with water, scraped the remaining bits of sauce off the sides into the water, and added that to the pot as well. I put the heat on full, and turned it down to a simmer only after the sauce began to boil. I set the timer to 2 hours and moved on.

My next project was spagetti sauce. This is one of my old favorites and I'd run out last week. I like this sauce because it freezes well, and because it has meat in it. But that's another story.

When the timer screamed at me the meat was still resistant to being pulled apart. I let it cook for another 3/4 of an hour, but by then I was out of time, so I pulled the pork mess off the burner and allowed it to cool. It was later put in the fridge by a helper who shall remain nameless.

The next morning I took out the congealed mass. It looked very ... orange. I put the pot back on the heat, allowing it to slowly rise up to the boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer. After about an hour on simmer the meat pulled easily from the bone, so I took the pot off the heat and let it sit.

It was almost an hour later when I came back and checked - the sauce was warm, but I could touch the meat without burning myself; so I got out a big bowl and tried to pull the meat out with a meat-fork. It fell apart back into the sauce. Using a spoon and the meat fork I managed to fish out most of the bits of meat from the sauce.

I poured the sauce into a sauce pan and returned it to the heat to reduce.

The meat came apart easily. I used my fingers. I had tried using 2 forks, but it just got messy. The tines kept getting tangled up and scaping the plate, so they and I went our separate ways. I discarded the inner fat and the bones, and set the meat aside.

It was another hour before the sauce was reduced, and even then not to the 3/4 the recipe suggested. Throwing caution to the wind, I added the sauce to the meat in the bowl and stired it in. I served it on toast - open faced for me, as a sandwich for the other. We both found it sweet, but good and very filling.

The remaining meat and sauce went into a baggie, got labeled and thrown into the freezer for later. Next time I'll try using more chiles or maybe some adobe chipotle paste to give it more of a kick. I'll also give myself more time to make the recipe all in one go.

Pulled pork sandwiches
Serves 4-6
Time: 15 minutes preparation, 3+ hours cooking
Inspired by Simply Recipes Pulled pork sandwich recipe. This hot sandwich comes with its own terrific sauce. It takes time to make, but should be convertable to a crockpot recipe with relative ease.

The original recipe called for 1 pickled jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped, 2 teaspoons of Chipotle chile powder, 1 Tbsp tomato paste, and 1/4 cup light brown sugar. I found this recipe too sweet and so have modified it to try and make it more spicy. This is best served on thick-crusted bread rather than toast or hamburger buns, otherwise the sauce will make the bread really soggy. The meat and sauce store well. I'm going to try freezing the leftovers and will report back to see how they taste after thawing. I've left the original ingredients in the recipe (along with some notes) as I know a few readers will prefer things sweet to spicy.

* 1 large onion, chopped
* 6 garlic cloves, peeled
* 2 serrano chile peppers, seeded and chopped (to taste)
or 1 picked jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (original recipe)
* 1 tablespoon of Adobe Chipotle paste
or 1 tablespoon tomato paste (original recipe)
2 teaspoons of Chipotle chile powder
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1/3 cup ketchup
* 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
* 1/8 cup light brown sugar
or 1/4 cup light brown sugar (original recipe)
* 1 bay leaf

* 3 lbs of pork butt shoulder roast, trimmed of excess fat
* Hamburger buns

1. Puree the first 11 ingredients until smooth.
2. In a deep pot, put the pork butt shoulder roast, bay leaf, sauce and 4 cups of water.
3. Bring the pot to a boil.
4. Turn it down to simmer. Keep simmering for 2 hours.
5. Remove from the heat and alow to cool.
6. When cool, remove the pork from the sauce. Shred it into small pieces and set aside.
7. Reduce the sauce by 3/4s.
8. Add the meat back into the sauce and allow the meat to heat through (about 2-3 minutes). Stir often.
9. Remove the bay leaf.
10. Top hamburger buns with about 1 cup of the meat mixture each. Add additional sauce if possible.
11. Serve while hot.

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