Thursday, May 10, 2012

Summer's here early! Pulled Pork Sandwiches on the menu. . .

The heat has been on in the Bay Area already.  Which has naturally turned our minds to summer foods.  And one of our favorites is pulled pork sandwiches.  They remind us of tropical luau feasts and Spring Break trips to the South featuring vast BBQ buffets.  So this was our mid-week feast. . .

Pulled pork on Sweet Hawaiian Dinner Rolls with barbeque sauce.  My daughter is developing a serious love of Bullseye Original Sauce, so that is our current sauce of choice.  The sides were corn with salt and butter, roasted sweet potatoes, and fresh cole slaw.  I really like the cole slaw kits, because the slaw doesn't sit around marinating in the dressing and getting soggy and slimy like those deli counter kinds.  In the South, the slaw is mounded on top of the pork, right in the sandwich.  Mmmmmmm.  Makes me hungry for more.

 The recipe I used for the pork was from Williams-Sonoma FoodMadeFast slow cooker.  I really recommend this slow cooker cookbook.  I have several others, all of which have more recipes, but this is the book that I turn to time and again.  So here's their recipe:

3 Tablespoons Canola or corn oil
4 lb (2 kg) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 equal pieces
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
soft sandwich rolls, split and toasted, for serving

1.  Brown the pork
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil.  Add the pork pieces and brown well on all sides, about 12 minutes total.  Transfer the pork to the slow cooker.

2.  Make the sauce and cook the pork
Pour off all but one tablespoon fat from the frying pan and return the pan to medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom.  Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, just until the mixture begins to bubble.  Pour over the pork.  Cover and cook on the high-heat setting for 4-5 hours or the low-heat setting for 8-10 hours.  The pork should be very tender.

3.  Shred the pork and serve
Transfer the pork pieces to a platter.  Using a pair of forks, shred each piece of pork, removing and discarding any large pieces of fat.  Skim off the excess fat from the surface of the sauce and return the pulled pork to the sauce.  Stir together to combine.  Serve the pork and sauce atop the sandwich rolls.

Here are my hints:  I used a rather larger roast 5.8 lbs.  Ask the butcher to debone it for you, if needed.  I didn't make any extra sauce to accommodate the larger roast, and there was more than enough to cook the meat and serve.  I reduced the red pepper flakes to 1 teaspoon to accommodate my younger audience, though I prefer a spicier meal.  I poured the sauce into a defatting pitcher to separate the fat out. 
This is an example of one available from Williams-Sonoma.
This is kind of important because the meat really renders a lot of fat in the cooking process.  Then I poured the sauce over the meat until I had the amount of juice that I preferred.  Really, there was just too much sauce to mix it all together.  The result would have been too sloppy.  Don't get me wrong though-- this sauce is great, like a homemade barbeque sauce.  We really love the Sweet Hawaiian rolls, but something a little more substantial would remedy our only problem-- soggy bottoms.

Well, that is a very Southern American BBQ style pulled pork.  Just to make you drool and try one of these recipes.  I'm going to give you another one of my favorites.  This is a homestyle version of the Kalua Pig at Hawaiian Luaus.

  • 4-5 pound pork butt (this is the same thing: shoulder roast)
  • 2½ tablespoons Hawaiian salt (substitute kosher salt)
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • foil
  • roasting bags
Trim any excess fat from the roast. Make several shallow long cuts along the roast or pierce liberally with a fork. (This allows the salt and liquid smoke to penetrate the meat.) Rub with salt and liquid smoke. Wrap the roast securely with a couple layers of aluminum foil.  Then get one of the large oven roasting bags, prep it with flour as the box suggests and put roast inside.  Seal securely. 
Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes per pound. When meat is done, be careful about removing it from the bags and foil, because there will be a lot of very hot juices.  Reserve the juices and separate fat as above.  Shred pork with 2 forks and add some of the juices back to the meat as desired.  This is great served with rolls and barbecue sauce as above.  Or with rice and other hawaiian sides.

Here's a parting shot!  Yummy!

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