“No sir, you can’t just throw barbeque sauce onto some grey pork floss and call it pulled pork.”
We all have something to fight for, something grounded jn the depths of our memory that we treat in a do-or-die sort of way. That is, if you’re going to do it, you better do it right, or don’t even.
Most often our brain’s preference of these subjects is based on our upbringing, in my case, that would be my mother. A treat to imagine though, that my timid, loving, born-and-raised in Taiwan mother is actually a barbeque pulled pork enthusiast.
Thus, by default, I fall somewhat in that category too. Genetics, man.
But I think that gene is secretly inherent in any human being. Seriously, that moment when the pork fibers fell apart at the tip of my fork, the steam burst forth, and the dark amber fat cap unraveled to reveal the rusty pink hued, scallop textured flesh beneath…something instinctive resonated within me.
Four ingredients is all you need,
so thank me for blowing your mind up, you’re welcome.
Finishing is better than starting.
Patience is better than pride.
You don’t need a smoker or anything fancy for this. All you need is time, and not even that much of it compared to some other methods you’ll find. One could certainly power through the entire recipe and have it on the table in 7 hours, otherwise you can chill it after shredding for up to 5 days, then finish with the last 2 hours of baking before serving, which thickens the sauce into a sticky, molasses-like glaze. The choice of fruit juice is arbitrary, but I like mango because it reduces into the richest glaze.
Ingredients for the pulled pork, serves 16:
8 lbs local pork shoulder, choose one that’s well marbled
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 bottle (400-425 ml) barbeque sauce ,use your favourite, but if don’t have one, get a darker one that’s more smoky than sweet
1 bottle (400-425 ml) mango juice (I’ve also succeeded with pomegranate, peach, and apple)
To make the pulled pork, remove any string from the pork if it’s in the form of a tied roast. Make a deep cut to butterfly the pork so it is about 3-4 inches thick throughout. Do not trim any of the fat.
Rub the pork all over with salt and place, fat side facing up, in a roasting pan. Squeeze the barbeque sauce over the pork without smearing – you want the sauce to form a cap and sit on top of the meat. Fill the barbeque sauce bottle with the juice and shake it to dissolve the bit of sauce remaining. Pour the mixture around the pork.
Seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil, overlapping a couple of sheets.
Bake at 295 degrees F for 5-5 1/2 hours, until the fat is rendered and meat shreds effortlessly. Shred the pork with two forks while it’s still hot in a separate large bowl and return it back to the pan of pork jus. Discard any visible lumps of fat.
Bake at 300 degrees F, loosely covered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until the sauce reduces into a thick glaze and the color intensifies.
For the coleslaw I did not want anything heavy or mayonnaise-y at all since the pork itself is rich enough. In fact, this method of making coleslaw is inspired by the Taiwanese pickling technique of first making a vinegar simple syrup, then pouring the hot syrup over the vegetables and letting it sit for three days. The result is something incredibly flavourful with a gutsy balance of acidity to cut through the pork’s fattiness just barely mellowed by a touch of mayonnaise.
Ingredients for the lime slaw:
100 ml rice vinegar
100 ml sugar
1 kg coleslaw blend (shredded green cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots)
1 lime, zest and juice
3 tbsp good quality mayonnaise
To make the lime slaw, dissolve the sugar with the vinegar in a small sauce pan. Pour over the coleslaw blend and mix thoroughly with the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill at least overnight, though it will be best three days later.
To assemble the sandwiches, just pile the warmed pork and cold slaw onto your favourite buns, I recommend a stronger-bodied bread, but really, anything goes. You can’t go wrong with pulled pork.
Enjoy! (And don’t forget the napkins!)