Pork for Days

Over the weekend I felt that old familiar tingling in my loins that can be sated by only one thing.

Pulled Pork.

As I’m sure we’re all aware, most of us have rather strong opinions on the best barbeque, be it sauce, style, or method. I personally play for the team utilizing large hunks of tough meats, cured for hours in a chamber consisting of the smoke created by combusting hardwood charcoal (or plain old logs). Mix with a thick tomato based, slightly sweet, spicy and vinegary sauce. Serve to grateful masses.

My family and I have recently started this tradition during the summer holiday season, where we park around a grill for six hours, slow roast pig parts, and guzzle down a couple hundred microbrews. We’ve even become pretty good at it – I prefer our homebrew pork to most of the restaurant equivalents.

I don’t know about you, but I happen to live in a small apartment with no outdoor spaces for grills, barbeque pits, fire pits, and the like. Which sucks, but I get by. Thus there are two ways in which I can contain my lusty desires: one, find a suitable barbeque restaurant here in Cleveland, or two, make it myself in lieu of proper equipment. The latter formed all sorts of interesting challenges that were begging to be conquered, and thus I turned my attention to my every day kitchen appliances.

Remember how I said you will fail? As usual, I did.

I shall now recap in grotesque detail.

The adventure began by finding a suitable pork shoulder (Boston Butt) roast. And none of that boneless shit; any time anyone asks you if you want the bone, you say yes. Readily available in from your friendly neighborhood butcher’s counter, this is clearly the recommended cut for this application, as it’s generally a little fatty, and a little tough – superb for the low-and-slow method which will be employed.

Proceeding to add a little extra flavor to generally lifeless pork, I created a simple spice rub: two parts salt, two parts chili powder, one part paprika, and some fresh black pepper. Next, I vigorously and sensually massaged this rub onto all external surfaces of the butt.

Fifty Falquan Fun Bucks for all of you who remembered that the roast’s name is actually “butt,” and didn’t just envision me sprinkling spices into my asscrack.

Firing up the stove to heat up a heavy skillet (cast iron is best) in which to sear off this hunk of animal flesh, I pondered in what vessel would I actually attempt to simulate the atmosphere of a charcoal grill or smoker. Knowing that the end product was to be pulled apart into strands of heavenly porky goodness, I went to my trusty Crock Pot, a true master in converting flesh to flavor, particularly when the flesh isn’t so weak.

Plopping the now seared pork into the vessel, I cranked it on, added a little chicken stock and walked away for the next 6 hours.

I’ll leave it to your imagination what I did for those hours, but most likely it involved plastic instruments.

Upon return was a glistening ball of pork, all its goodness drained into a basting liquid at the bottom of the pot. Only sin and delight remained solid enough to eat.

Removing the meat to a cooling apparatus proved more difficult than expected as each swipe with the tongs would cause a catastrophic structure failure between the meat fibers. In a good way. Soon I would consume this delight which would certainly pave my path to hell in gold.

And it was good. Really good.

But there was fail.

The fibers were too broken down. The meat had no texture, and trying to stir in any sauce resulted in what looked more like a bubbling meat paste than delicious chunks of pure pleasure.

I soon determined that this was the fault of the moist cooking environment of the Crock Pot, as each time I warmed it back up, it got soupier and soupier (but still remained delicious).

This would not stand.

I set out to find a new butt (fifty more Fun Bucks lost). This time rather than the Crock Pot, I attempted to create a drier cooking environment. This time, I tried the oven.

Preparing the meat in the exact same manner, I heaved it into a 250 degree oven for the next 12 hours.

During this time, I cannot describe to you the aromas which lingered heavily in the air, for they were beyond words. Well, at least beyond my ability to describe with words, anyway.

This roast turned out almost exactly like the one done back at home – particularly the bark; that delicious dry, crackly “skin” that forms from being exposed to dry heat for a great quantity of time. The only thing that was missing was the smoke flavor.

Which brings me to the second fail:

I attempted to bring back that smoky flavor with the addition of liquid smoke to the cooking liquid from the previous butt (-50). Unfortunately I failed to notice that I circumvented the shaker top and promptly emptied half the bottle into said cooking liquid. Thankfully, it was still in a separate bowl and thus did not ruin hours of porky labor.

The results, however, were not fail. This was the proper texture. Just a touch dry, held together in big chunks; retaining real ultimate tenderness.

I’d post pictures, but quite honestly the things I did to that butt (it’s not even worth it anymore) were things I’d rather the internet not see me do: eating the whole damn thing.

4 comments to Pork for Days

  • princesszyrtec

    So I stopped in to Sidelines II on Saturday, after an exhausting day of moving, and I had no appetite. I was just really, really, really, really, really thirsty.

    They have a new sandwich.

    It’s called the Porkzilla.

    I will make it mine someday….but it was not to be that particular day, for I just didn’t have an appetite.

    When I make Porkzilla succumb to my whims and fancies, I will take pictures and post a paean–a plethora of pulchritudinous porcine paragraphs–for your perusal.

  • Amon-Rukh

    Mmmmm, butt.

    Had a cuban pork sandwich at a Place called One World Cafe in Peoria, IL recently. It was quite delightful and renewed my faith in cuban sandwiches (which are by all rights something that one should never lose faith in) after some woeful experiences at other dining establishments.

  • princesszyrtec

    Amon, I too had a cuban sandwich recently, at Nick and Jimmy’s. It was a marvelous concoction of sweet onion, tender pork, cheese, and other things like coleslaw. A toasted marvel.

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