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The other day I was reading this article which short as it was, did have some good points. It doesn’t give you any tacky advice on how to give your resume a shiny pop or the wittiest interview answer. Instead, it emphasizes some of the more useful stuff. For example, how to be a better human being.

No it’s nowhere close as detailed and perfect as my ultimate manual on life (if you’re interested, Google the word “Bible” and start with Proverbs). Nonetheless, it was great to be reminded that there is still some sense and sensibility in society.

If by now you still haven’t read that article, I’ll go easy on you this time and debrief you straight on what I found most inspiring. That is, the art of “to get to know“.

Right off the bat I can already see colours of all disgusted shades spouting off like clouds of dust from your minds. Exactly, because it’s nearly a lost art. These days I find people like to do things, go places, eat food, buy stuff – and we turn off our ears when we hear the word “materialist”.

When we do these things with people, we all of a sudden, as if by magic, become BFFs. But really, we’re just real tight with the big screen and artisan bistros. But then, really, we’re just all about serving ourselves.

Look at me, I’m at the movies, not alone.

Look at me, I’m at a hip bohemian cafe, chose it. Wow, I’m sao cultured.

Then you take away the where, what, when. Can you be satisfied with the who and the why?

Who are you? Who’s this person with you? Why are you here? Why is this person here with you?

You see, sometimes, it’s beautiful to strip away all those unessential essentials. And it’s genius to add a couple beneficial redundancies.

The first day of the festival will be

an official day for holy assembly,

and no ordinary work may be done

on that day.

Numbers 28:18

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I tend to be a little more adventurous when I’m with people close to me. I’ll have the urge to do things for the first time, go places I’ve never been, and put my face in an ear-to-ear grin for so long that my face needs a massage afterwards. My dear mother is one of these people who can break down my walls. My brother’s friends call her the food fairy. Her definition of wellness is dependent solely upon how “well” we are eating.

Anyhow, so one evening after supper my mum wanted me to make pulled pork. So at 9pm we went out and got ourselves a six-pound butt of pork shoulder, and a dozen bottles of deep amber malt. Then, with a little bit of midnight magic thrown in the pot, we woke up to a house of melted meat and tons of jus. Naturally, pork dip was the next progression. If you like french onion anything, falling-apart-tender shreds of meat, or dark ales. This is for you. The secret? Nothing, really, just let’em mingle. They’re meant for each other anyway.

Also, yes, I get it, there’s no “searing of meat” here. But, if you don’t know this already, searing meat at high temperatures has nothing to do with it staying juicy after a long braise. If anything, searing adds caramelized depth of flavour, which has already been taken care of by the generous addition of amber malt and cider in this recipe. See? I definitely thought this through.

Ingredients for the Malt and Cider Braised Clove-Studded Shoulder, serves 8~12:

3 yellow onions, sliced

6 lb pork shoulder, strings removed

3 tbsp kosher salt, or as needed

12 whole cloves

3 bay leaves

3 c unpasteurized apple cider

2 bottles malta*

To make the clove-studded shoulder, preheat the oven to 225°F, with the rack placed in the lower third of the oven.

Place the sliced onions in a clean dutch oven or oven-safe pot. This will help keep the bottom of the meat from becoming dry and tough. Unroll the pork shoulder and rub it generously with kosher salt. Place the pork, fat side up, into the pot. Using the tip of a sharp knife, make twelve small incisions in the skin and plant the cloves in the incisions. Add all remaining ingredients to the pot, cover with a heavy lid, and braise in the oven for 12 hours

The next day, while the meat is still warm (don’t do this while it’s still scorching), shred it roughly with two forks.

*malta is a non-alcoholic carbonated beverage made from malt extracts similar to malt liquor. It has a slightly yeasty aroma, and deep caramel notes comparable to molasses. In a cinch, substitute in malt beverage, guiness, or a medium beer (I wouldn’t venture into the pale end of the spectrum, though).

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Ingredients for the pork dip, serves 8~12:

all the juices from the braising pot, and the shredded meat

3 sturdy sourdough baguettes, cut into 4 hot dog bun-sized portions then split

butter, as needed

grainy mustard, as needed

pickled onions or cornichons, to serve

To make the pork dip sandwiches, warm the braising juices and shredded meat in the pot over a very low simmer. Meanwhile, toast the baguette with a little bit of butter. I usually double-toast them; I would toast them unbuttered until the cut side roughens up but not browned Then, I rub a stick of cold butter over the cut side, sprinkle on a bit of sea salt and finally toast it a second time until deeply golden. This way, I find, they hold up to the au jus much better and have a very rich flavour of their own.

Once toasted, spread a generous amount of grainy mustard on the bottom halves, top with the shredded pork (shake off the excess jus before piling it on the bread), some of the caramelized onions from the braising liquid, and close the deal with the top baguette half.

Ladle the remaining braising juices into small ramekins or bowls and serve alongside the sandwiches. To eat, it’s as the name suggests: dip the sandwich in the jus, and take a big bite – having trails of meat juice run down your arms is part of the appeal. Then take a bite of pickled onions, or chomp off the head of a cornichon (small sweet pickle).

Happy un-skinny dipping!

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them!

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