Barbecuing in St Louis a year or two back with culinary friends, I got to enjoy some really good "pulled pork".
While visiting the grandees in Sydney briefly recently I was reminded when we again enjoyed pulled pork in a soft shell tortilla at a beachside caf.
American food such as hot dogs and mac & cheese are somewhat on the ordinary side but when it comes to pulled pork no one does it better.
Fair to say the Americans have mastered the way to do "low and slow" on the barbecue unlike the general way down under where it can seem at times a race to get it cooked before the rain starts to fall - or at least it appears that way.
The traditional cut used to produce pulled pork is known as a Boston Butt. It will require you to talk to your butcher to get the correct piece (and make sure it has the New Zealand pork sticker).
The cut comes from the hardworking shoulder of the pig and fortunately is of the cheaper cuts of pork available. Coming from the top of the shoulder, the neck end, it is best cooked on the bone.
It's not one of those dishes you can suddenly decide to throw on the barbecue to impress family and friends, as in St Louis we marinated the pork overnight and started the cooking process at midday the following day for a 7pm or thereabouts dining time. While the barbecue worked perfectly you could achieve the same result using a braising dish in your oven.
If you have a heavy cast deep dish in your barbecue it will work perfectly or alternatively just place a heavy based roasting dish onto your barbecue - it will make the cooking process a little easier.
I popped into see Les and his team in the butchery at Windsor New World and they were able to supply me with the correct cut no problem at all, and at a reasonable price.
In anticipation of a long, hot summer let's cook some pulled pork and enjoy.
For the dry rub
1 Tbsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp onion salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 cup dark brown sugar
Mix well and store in an airtight container.
For the Brine Solution
1/2 cup sea salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 litre water
4 bay leaves
4 Tbsp of the dry rub mix
Stir the salt into the cold water and continue stirring until the salt has dissolved.
Add the other ingredients and stir until completely combined.
For the Boston Butt of Pork
Place the pork shoulder into a good-sized container and cover with the brine solution. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove the pork shoulder from the brine, pat it dry with paper towels and place in your roasting dish or barbecue dish and sprinkle with the dry rub over the entire surface of the pork, massaging it in so it does stick somewhat to the surface.
With the fat layer of the pork facing up place the container uncovered in your pre-heated barbecue (with a lid) or oven at 130 degrees Celsius and cook uncovered for an hour.
Place 3 cups of apple juice into the base of your dish and cook for a further 5-6 hours ensuring the temperature does not increase to any more than 130C.
If you have a meat thermometer make use of that and once the internal temperature of the meat comes to 85deg then turn the heat off and allow the meat to cool down for an hour resting it in its juices.
To serve the pulled pork simply using two forks, rip the meat apart and enjoy.
You will find the pulled pork delicious in a soft or hard shell tortilla or taco and just wonderful with salad greens and dressing in a freshly baked bread bun or baguette.
Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Drive/Bainfield Rd roundabout.
- © Fairfax NZ News