19 April, 2014

Heeeeeeere Piggy, Piggy, Piggy!!!

Ah yes....pork.  At one point called "the other white meat", and now gets very little play in the culinary world unless you're talking about, well...bacon.  Who doesn't love bacon?  Well, I actually know a guy AND he is from Chicago.  It just didn't seem possible, but he hates bacon.  I almost held a candlelight vigil....

These days I don't have tons of time to sit over a stove, I'm sure you've noticed.  My little sister was in town and I sure didn't want to spend all of the time she had in her visit in the kitchen.  As much as I would love to make her fabulous vittles, it would be a wasted trip!  So....what can I make that won't take forever but will TASTE like I spent days slaving away??  Ah ha!  Pulled pork.

The process of making an awesome batch of pulled pork starts way before you actually cook it.  You need to have a great recipe for a brine that it can soak in AND slam, bang recipe for a rub to put on it while it roasts.  I say "roast" because I don't currently have a smoker but I have taken care of that problem with my rub, you'll see.  The time spent letting this meat brine and roast is time that you don't have to cower over anything like a slave stirring or basting.  The other thing that you need to make this perfect is a great barbecue sauce.  If you follow me on Facebook, you'll have seen me post that recipe on my wall back in December or January.  These three elements go into the equation for perfection with your pork.  Brine, rub...sauce.  In that order and each element matters a great deal.  Let's get started folks!

Pulled Pork

3/4 c. black strap molasses
12 oz. pickling salt
1/2 c. grain mustard
2 quarts of boiling hot water
3 T. of dry rub mixture
2 bay leaves

Dry Rub
1 c. organic brown cane sugar
1/2 c. smoked paprika (smoked is VITAL if you don't own a smoker)
2 T. fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp. salt
4 T. garlic powder
4 T. onion powder
4 T. dry mustard
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. fennel powder
1/2 T. cayenne pepper (don't be scared....)

1 6-8 lb. pork shoulder/butt

Make the dry rub first, as you'll need a small amount of it in your brining mixture.  Take all of the spices and toss them together in a bowl or into a ziploc bag.  Mix with a whisk or close the bag and shake the spices together.  Voila!...you're done.  Now, for the brine!

First thing you do is pick out a fabulous bone in pork butt/shoulder.  Make sure it has a loverly layer of fat SOMEwhere on the cut, it keeps your meat moist as it roasts and basically bastes itself without you doing a THING to it.

Rinse the meat off and place it in a large container (able to fit 3 qts or more in it).  Prepare the brine in a large pitcher or bowl by mixing the molasses, mustard, pickling salt and 3 T. of dry rub together with a whisk. 

Then add to that mixture to your 2 quarts of boiling water.  Pour your brine mixture over the pork, toss in your 2 bay leaves and then cover the container tightly and stick it in a special place in your fridge for at LEAST 8 hours.  12 hours would be better...if you can hold out that long!  I always let ours go 12 hours, it is worth it in the end.  I just set a timer on my stove and walk away.

For whatever reason my pork kept floating...so I used this heavy bowl to weigh down my pork and the foil I covered the top with kept the pork completely submerged in the brine without question.

My process to make my pulled pork usually goes like this...  Have the pork ready and in the fridge brining by 9am, let it brine until 9pm (right before I head to bed!), then take the pork out of the brine, and pat it dry with paper towels.  Then I massage (seriously...massage the rub in like you're trying to save this piggy's life!) the dry rub into the meat, stick the meat it in a large roaster pan, toss it in the oven, and I let it roast for 10-12 hours (if you don't have a large roaster...you can roast it in your crock pot on low for 12-18 hours instead).  To test its "doneness" I stick a fork in and pull...if it falls apart with no effort...it is party time!

When it has finished roasting, it is time to dress it in sauce and serve.  You can honestly just serve it in a big pile next to some mac n cheese or cole slaw.  What I like to do with mine the most is make pulled pork sandwiches or pulled pork sliders.  The Sprout enjoys the sliders much better.  When I assemble my sandwiches I simply put on a couple slices of dill pickle and serve them.  Fabulous...

Eating pulled pork on a ciabatta is quite possibly one of my favorite things to eat....ever.  Ever, ever, ever...ever.  Add a bit of marble jack to it and...well...you could convince me to divulge government secrets (of which I have none....).  Mmmm....pulled pork.  So tender, so juicy, so spicy....and this one is ALL mine!  Make it for dinner this weekend, you have the time.  No, really...you have the time.  4 day weekend??  At least TWO of those days you can spend just eating it!  Enjoy!

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