Pulled pork

Happy pigs make lovely pork

Happy pigs make lovely pork

Pulled pork isn’t pretty but goodness it’s delicious. Proper caveman food.

We’ve been developing our pulled pork recipe for the last few months and it’s now reached a stage of deliciousness where I want to eat it most days. Luckily for me it’s on the menu at All Saints every day.

Realistically it’s a recipe that’s tricky to replicate at home but I’m giving it here in its full glory and you can decide whether to try to simplify it for home use or just to come to us for lunch instead.

Our pulled pork journey started at All Saints when we bought our beautiful Rational Combi oven earlier this year. This is a stunningly beautiful machine which controls every aspect of cooking: temperature, humidity and timing. And all with the precision of German engineering. To the basic machine we’ve added a smoker which is important for this recipe. With a bit of luck I’ll have saved up enough pennies (they cost roughly the same as a new small car) to get one for Michaelhouse in 2015.

You can see the ‘bark’ and the soft pullable meat

When we first made this dish we didn’t use a spice rub but it’s been massively improved by the addition of the rub. Our spice mix is very minimally adapted from that used by the renowned Pitt Cue company, specialists in barbecued food from the Deep South. The list of spice ingredients is annoyingly long, but it’s worth putting everything in. I also learned from Pitt Cue an excellent piece of pulled pork jargon: they stress the importance of developing a good ‘bark’ i.e. the browned edge of the meat developed during the slow-roasting. So when you pull the meat you’ve got mostly soft pinkish/brownish interior with flecks of tasty spicey well-browned exterior meat. Yum.

The quantities below feed between 30 and 50 depending on how hungry you’re feeling. The overall process for our version of pulled pork goes like this:

  1. Get your butcher to supply you with a large (about 7kg) boned and skinned (but not rolled) pork shoulder cut into two roughly equal pieces.
  2. Prepare the spice rub (recipe below)
  3. Rub the raw meat with the spice rub working it into all the nooks and crannies
  4. pork rubbed with spices prior to smoking

    pork rubbed with spices prior to smoking

    Smoke the rubbed meat on an open rack at 90C/100% humidity for about 90 minutes

  5. Put each bit of a meat in its own deep roasting tray. Mix the sauce ingredients together (recipe below) and divide equally between the two trays. It should come about a quarter of the way up the meat.
  6. Roast overnight (about 12 hours, but the timing is not critical) at 105C/100% humidity
  7. Pull the pork – use two forks like for roast duck in Chinese restaurants. Mix the pulled meat with the sauce and any juices/fat which have come out of the pork during the overnight roast.
ready to mix with the sauce and juices

ready to mix with the sauce and juices

Put in a freshly-baked All Saints olive oil bap with your chosen accompaniments and eat. We put roast pepper ketchup in the bun and serve coleslaw and salad leaves on the side. A lot of places serve it with a gloopy barbecue sauce. I’m not keen on this and prefer our method of mixing the meat juices/sauce in with the pulled pork.

Spice rub

10g fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
150g light muscovado sugar
10g garlic powder (I’ve never used this before, but it works well here)
100g salt
15g smoked paprika
30g paprika
1tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne

Toast fennel, cumin, black peppercorns and coriander then grind to a fine powder. Add all of the rest of the ingredients and mix together well.

Sauce ingredients

70 cl dry cider (we use Dunkertons)
75cl cloudy apple juice
120g molasses
120g Dijon mustard