Porcine Pleasure

August 18, 2006 on 9:48 pm | By | In Food Musings | Comments Off on Porcine Pleasure

It’s fess-up time. Despite my yammerings about how much healthier I eat, how much more I move around, yada yada yada, I have to admit a certain fondness for long, slow-smoked meat. Being able to turn a tough hunk of flesh into delectable, fork tender goodness is the epitome of great cooking, in my opinion. It’s food to feed your soul when the temperatures are pushing 90, the coolers are full of brew and you can only muster up enough energy to lounge on your deck chair.

My brother-in-law introduced me to North Carolina pulled pork in the 80s. He called it “barbecue,” and I couldn’t for the life of me understand when he said he was going to put coleslaw on the barbecue. Being a Yankee, to me “barbecue” meant the barbecue grill; why would anyone want to barbecue coleslaw, and more importantly, how on earth would you keep the coleslaw from falling through the grates? But one bite and I became a convert. Unfortunately it would be almost 2 decades before I again experienced that delightful treat.

Once I became a chef I decided I had to learn how to properly barbecue. While grilling takes certain skill, real barbecue is a true test of one’s mettle. I found a recipe for North Carolina pulled pork in Steven Raichlen’s “Barbecue Bible” and decided to give it a try. My first attempt was rather good, but it didn’t quite live up to the standard set so many years ago. I tinkered with the rub, adding ground chipotle to the mix to liven it up (the original recipe calls for brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dry mustard and onion powder). But the real breakthrough came via the sauce added at the end once the pork has been “pulled.” Steven’s recipe calls for a ketchup & vinegar blend popular in the eastern part of North Carolina. I favor a mustard-based sauce which apparently rules in the southern part of the state (and I prefer Dijon over yellow mustard, as it adds a nice complexity of flavor).

This coming weekend my darling and I will be attending a dinner/sleepover with his best friends from grade school, so we figured what better an opportunty to haul out the smoker and cook us a boat-load of pork. Here’s what it looks like after being rubbed:

Raw Pulled Pork

I then place it in my trusty Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (or The Bullet, for short):

Silver Bullet

After 6 hours or so, it comes out like this:

Pulled Pork

Once it cools a bit you simply pull it apart with your fingers, taking care to remove as much fat as possible. You then toss it in your mustard-vinegar sauce and it’s good to go!

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