Pulling up pork

I don’t exactly remember how it happened. I lost a bet, or generally offended my Non Foodie Friend, and the short version of the story is, amends needed to be made in the form of food.

I love the challenge of cooking for people; no two guests are the same. There are allergies and food phobias to juggle, budgets and time constraints. Hell, I’ve even thrown a dinner party simply because I had a new cookbook to play with. Actually, that’s probably my favourite reason to do anything.

I had been seriously hankering for an excuse to make pulled pork. It’s everywhere at the moment, part and parcel with the Mexican wave we’re riding. My Non Foodie Friend is not a huge fan of pork, however he does love simple, meaty fare – lasagna, pastas, burritos, that kind of thing. So, making pulled pork enchiladas was the perfect marriage of ‘showing off cooking’ and the simple, high-impact flavours that NFF loves.

Here’s the deal. I started this on a Saturday morning, for dinner on Sunday night. I promise you, pulled pork is almost effortless. It does take a LOT of time, though; being organised is key. But once you have that… One long nap, and pulled pork goodness is yours.

Visit your local butcher, ask them to remove any bones, skin and ligaments – that’s most of the hard work done for you. Winning! I used a kilo of pork, and that gave me a lot of leftovers. Luckily, there are also a lot of uses for them – Google is your friend.

Pulled Pork

From Juji Chews

Pork shoulder –  I used a kilo piece, Juji used a pieces between 3 and 4 kilos. Whatever suits your needs, really.

Brining solution
1/3 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1.5 l cold water
Bay leaves (about six)
1 tbsp dry rub
1 large (really large) ziploc freezer bag 

In a large saucepan, add the water, salt and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Throw in the bay leaves (I only had dried leaves) and the dry rub.

Put the pork into the ziploc bag, then pour in the brine. Sloosh around to coat, then seal the bag, put it into the roasting pan (it catches up any leaks) and into the fridge for at least 10 hours – though its fine to leave it as long as you need – just not less. The brine stops the pork from drying out while it cooks.

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When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 100*c – I cooked mine overnight, while I was sleeping. 

Take the pork out of the fridge, drain the brine pat it dry with a towel. Rub the pork all over generously with the dry rub, getting into all the folds.

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Place the pork in a roasting pan, and then into the oven.  Take a nap (it’s totally part of the instructions) or go about your day – just don’t open the oven, and don’t turn up the temperature. Set an alarm for 11 hours. When it goes off, turn off the oven and then cover the pork with foil. Put the pork back in the oven, and let it cool for another 2 hours.

Once it’s cool, the pork will come apart into threads with your hands, and it’s free to use as you wish. I made it into enchiladas, using the recipe here.

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Oh, and one more thing – the dry rub. If you’ve got some in the pantry, feel free to use it instead. The more spice, the merrier. If you’ve got plenty of stuff in your spice cabinet at home, you can make your own!

Dry rub

1 tb ground cumin
1 tb dried oregano
1/2 tb dried thyme
2 tb garlic powder
2 tb onion powder or flakes
1 tsp chili powder
1 tb cayenne pepper
2 tb salt
1 tb ground pepper
3 tb paprika
1 tb smoked paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix the dry rub ingredients together in an air tight container or ziploc bag. It lasts for months, so make more than you need here if you like, it’s great on all kinds of meat.

And then whoopm, there it is. Enchiladas.

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West by Southwest

(yes, Dad, I know it’s not a real direction)

The Lone Star state may not be quite as lonely as it thinks. I kind of feel like we in WA may have a kindred spirit with the second most expansive state in the US of A.

REASONS WHY TEXAS AND WA SHOULD BE FRIENDS:

1) We are both a little on the large side. Hey, everything is bigger in Texas, and I don’t think this is a bad thing!
2) Famous for deserts, though contain everything from mountain ranges to forests to beaches
3) Totally awesome at drilling stuff out of the ground
4) We have similarly snazzy head wear. Though Akubra > Stetson
5) We both appreciate the deliciousness that is a good cow
6) Our respective governments are totally mooching off our productivity. It’s not our fault we are better than you, Victoria New Mexico EVERYONE

Now that we have cemented our new BFF status (the friendship necklace is in the post!), it’s time we share the love. When it comes to sharing food love, there is no one I love to share it with more than my favourite cousin, Keaton, who writes over at Bubblegunperth – he’s seriously talented and clever and all round awesome and I refuse to believe that we share DNA. He doesn’t judge the terrible music in my iTunes (even though he should) and teaches me about many sweet tunes what make me look cool. Sharing is caring.

For this recipe, I used (and LOVE) Gingin Beef ribs – they are so unbelievably delicious, and the team are so friendly and happy to answer my stupid first-thing-in-the-morning-and-not-yet-capable-of-coherent-though questions.

Texan-Style Beef Ribs

From Donna Hay

3/4 cup tomato puree (passata)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup golden syrup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 cup malt vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 cup water
2kg beef ribs
salt and pepper, to season

1) Heat the oven to 180*c. Throw everything minus the ribs into a deep, large roasting dish and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ribs, and turn to coat thoroughly.

2) Cover the tray with foil and slowly roast for 2 hours, turning half way through. Take off the foil and roast for another 35 – 45 minutes, turning once again, to allow the sauce to reduce and thicken.

Serve the ribs with these:

Paprika and Beer Battered Chips

From Donna Hay

1/2 cups plain flour
2/3 cup cornflour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt flakes
2 cups pale ale beer
600g starchy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
vegetable oil, for frying

1) Mix the flour, cornflour, baking powder, paprika and salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the beer, until a smooth paste forms.

2) Heat the oil in a deep saucepan until it reaches 180*c. Dip the potato into the batter, and CAREFULLY drop into the oil one by one (so they don’t stick together), frying in batches for a couple of minutes, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

I served the chips with mayo with a clove of finely diced garlic to make a cheating aioli – and it was good.

Also, in the interest of balance, please serve with an actual salad. I chopped up lettuce, tomatoes, spring onion and threw in some feta. Easy.