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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