All for the love of pork: 16 hour pulled pork sandwiches

I do some pretty crazy things every now and then. At least I’m being made to understand that people believe I do crazy things. I prefer to look at it from the perspective that I’m willing to make some substantial sacrifices for the greater things in life: Such as good pork!

These sacrifices would include, but not be limited to, getting up before the crack of dawn to spend sixteen odd hours tending to a pork butt (which is a really strange name for pork shoulder, really!) with the intention of introducing Tina (and Jeppe) to the wonderful, heart-stopping delicacy that is pulled pork!

What is pulled pork?, you might ask. Well, the answer is much more simple than the process of creating said piece of meat: It’s basically a fatty, marbled piece of pork (neck or shoulder), rubbed exceedingly generously with a mix of spices known as a dry rub, then left to soak up the flavor of said spices in the fridge for anywhere from 12-24 hours before being introduced to very gentle heat and smoke, again for anywhere from 12-24 hours.. It’s really a process that’s about as painstakingly long and tedious to perform as it is easy to explain.. Which is why a bit of planning is in order when executing such a grand plan.

First things first, an occasion would be good. Tina and I had already set on in that on a specific Thursday, she agreed to help me out with the yard and cook me her nice, famed brunch – in return for me getting up well before dawn to prepare her pulled pork for the evening feast that would follow a long day of yard work.. So, keeping Thursday as the target, preparations slowly began on Monday when a nice, big piece of pork butt was evacuated from the fridge and left to thaw slowly in the fridge for the next couple of days.

On Wednesday, the ever-so-important dry rub spic mix was created and very generously applied to the pork. In keeping with traditions set by previous bastard BBQ masters, I’ve chosen to keep my dry rub recipe a well-kept secret. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is, if everybody else are gonna be bastards about it, then I will, too. The secret is mine and you won’t get it out of me, not even if you’re a cute blonde with deep blue eyes, a pretty smile and a push-up bra!

After application of the rub, the gigantic piece of pork was wrapped tightly in cling film and left to have fun in it’s own juices in the fridge for about a day or so. This is done partly to impart flavor on the meat but also for the salt in the rub to draw moisture to the surface of the meat which will help it develop a nicely, caramelized crust – oh and it will mix with the herbs and spices and create a fragrant mess of meat juices which can be used in the BBQ sauce at a later point.. Yum!

Those of you keeping track of hours spent on this dish may have seen a pattern start to emerge here.. Yes, it’s a time consuming dish.. Good pulled pork takes time, a lot of time.. And it takes dedication, a lot of dedication, at least for those of us who are not good morning persons. Because if you want good pulled pork, you’re gonna have to be willing to either eat very late or get up very early in the morning. Or, the best case scenario being, both! As such, we’d agreed to eat at around 9 PM on Thursday evening and, as such, I’d volunteered to get up at 5 AM on Thursday to light up the grill and get things going.. Because that’s how I roll and that’s just how nice of a person I am and both Tina and her ass had better be grateful. Ahem, anyways.. Yes, so, Thursday for me started at 5 AM.

There’s something both very appalling and very appealing about getting up before daybreak. Getting up early was never very easy for me, though still easier than for some others, but I’ve always really loved watching the world wake and the sun rise and that whole kinda thing. It’s a nearly magical experience, especially in the summer.. Add to that the fact that there’s just something so wrong yet terribly exciting and good about messing around with a lit grill and several kilos of meat before most people are even getting up for work or whatever their daily business may be.

So out of bed I stumbled, onto the grill I poured flammable liquid and long before the sun started painting the horizon red, the flames from my grill offered the first non-artificial light of the day.. Time to cook! At 5:30 AM, as the flames died, some wood chips were added to the grill for a bit of smoke and the well-rubbed butt (tee-hee) was places placed on a grate on the grill, not directly over the coals after which the lid was applied, anda temperature probe dropped down the air outtake. Thus, the waiting and monitoring game began.. As frequent readers of the blog will know, this was my second time cooking pulled pork, so things were a little more relaxed this time than they were the first time around. I stuck to checking the grill once every 30–60 minutes and applied more coals or smoke chips as needed. While I did that, I looked for job postings, checked my email and all those sort of things..

And then at around 8:45 I got company! By the lovely and very tired Tina who, despite not being a morning person at all, had decided to get up early and cook me brunch.. Aww! By the time she arrived, I had already been up and going for almost four hours so I was in a bright and chipper mood as she pulled up in her car while Tina, who was looking a little worse for wear, answered my greeting of “Good morning sunshine!” with a subdued slur of profanities followed about an incoherent rant into my shoulder containing several references to the word coffee.. Which I took to mean that I’d better get a coffee pot on while Tina took care of cooking up the biggest breakfast/brunch I’ve seen since Vegas 2003.. I know, I’m a pretty lucky guy me, having pretty girls cook me breakfast, and getting up extra early much against their nature just to do so, you get to feel pretty blessed every now and then..

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I’m willing t o bet Tina agrees because her full breakfast came with both bacon, eggs, cheese, beans, bread, coffee.. A heart-stoppingly good combination that would win any man over and I was pretty well impressed and happy with my little friend, I even quite enjoyed the curious addition of a side-dish with plain yoghurt and dried fruits and oats. Even her rather scary looking mix of berries and freshly squeezed citrus juices and other weird. healthy nonsense which I believe she referred to as a smoothie went down pretty well, once mixed with a healthy serving of Russian Standard Vodka (What? It’s how I roll!)

Breakfast, and probably more importantly coffee, seemed to liven up the little one quite a lot, and for the next few hours she was quite busy writing applications while I tended to the grill which, no matter what Tina will try to tell you, did not die out a single time during the process as well as to Tina who still needed coffee every now and then to keep her going.

Once Tina had finished her applications and I’d had a look at them, we grabbed a bit of afternoon delight on the terrace in the shape of a glass of beer and a swift little talk of the kind which can only really be had between friends and would probably only serve to confuse the lot of you..

We then got on with the major project of the day, prettying up the garden a little.. Or a lot, really.. Which, well, was a bit of a struggle to put it mildly, but we managed.. Spirits kept high by our patented mix of good friends, lewd conversation, heavy f’ing metal, a few beers and my patented mix of verbal and physical abuse of Tina which is really just my way of saying I love her for helping me out and cooking me breakfast.. Again, that’s how I roll..

We struggled on like this all through the day and into the late afternoon where Jeppe showed up to lend a bit of a helping hand both with the beer drinking and the physical labor and the joking around and verbal abuse as well. Finally, at around 6 PM, we called it quits and sent Tina off to play soccer for a few hours while Jeppe and I tended to the pork which had now been on the grill for a good 13 hours, killed another beer and had a long assed talk about all sorts of things.. Which I’d like to think made Tina proud, had she been around because it was probably the first time we talked for over an hour without any kind of (joking) abuse getting into the mix.

At 8 PM we evacuated the pork from the BBQ and left it to rest in the kitchen, we then whipped up some quick oven-roasted potatoes and some coleslaw before I sent Jeppe off to go pick up Tina while I finished up dinner.

As Tina and Jeppe returned, more beers were opened and the pork was traditionally pulled using two forks before being slapped onto burger buns, drizzled with homemade BBQ sauce and served with coleslaw and roasted potatoes.. The food finally hit the table at around 9:15 PM, more than 16 hours after the whole project had started.. The pictures, admittedly, look horrible, but the end result tasted a lot better than it looked..

So, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it: 16 hour pulled pork sandwiches: DONE!

And, then, was 16 hours of cooking worth the effort? Well, I’m a horrible critic when it comes to judging my own cooking, but judging by my two co-eaters, it was worth every minute.. Coz fuck me they ate a lot of meat.. And Tina, who is NOT a pork fan, nearly had her second ever food orgasm in the process while blatantly refusing to eat her burger bun because it took up space in her tummy which was better used for meat.. Bless you, sweetheart! 😉 I put down a fair sized portion myself but somehow it all got a little too much for me along the way, possibly because of the hours upon hours used tending to the damn pork, so I was all the happier that my guests seemed unstoppable when it came eating and that they seemed to put down my portion as well.. Great work, guys, I even caught Jeppe in the kitchen eating scraps out of the roasting tray after we were done.. So, yeah, I’d like to say I was pretty happy with the result and that getting up at 5 AM was well worth it.. I love it when a good, crazy cooking project plays out successfully..

Now what to try?

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