You’re probably looking at the above image wondering why I have posted a picture of a relatively normal sandwich whose only distinguishing feature is that it resembles a meat-filled PacMan. But looks can be deceptive. And whilst this may not look like much to the naked eye, it is, in fact, possibly the best sandwich I’ve eaten all year. A sandwich so good, that – if I was one of those God fearing types – I’d be offering up a prayer to him thanking him for inventing tasty tasty pigs. For this vision, dear readers, is slow cooked pulled pork piled onto a home made bun. And bugger me, it is pretty bloody amazing.
Read any (good) food blog from the USA, and they will tend to rhapsodise about the beauty of a delicious pile of pulled pork. Juicy, tender and piquant with a baste of vinegar, tomato sauce and brown sugar, it is a taste of the South wrapped up in one delicious messy bite. Most of the time, the pork is barbecued slowly over a smoker, but seeing as it is November, and not exactly barbecue weather here in Bootle, I decided to improvise and give my slow cooker a bit of an airing.
First, I smothered my pork joint in a dry rub and left it overnight. Then, the next morning, I dunked it in a pot and allowed it to stew in its own juices for a few hours. The end result was divine – a nice hunk of pig, braised to breaking point, rich with delicious unctuous fat which was slightly crispy from being sizzled against the hot crock pot.
I would have happily eaten this delicious meat spaghetti on its own, but then I decided that that might be unseemly. Also, apparently it’s not ladylike to eat a big plate of red meat whilst shouting at the TV. So, I threw together some easy home made sandwich buns to accompany my bounty. Warm, squidgey and nicely sweet, these were devoured with almost as much relish as the pork.
This is big, messy, thoroughly filthy food. So leave your manners at the door, don’t be ashamed to lick your fingers clean, and let that juice run down your chin with pride. November’s here. It’s time for some serious soul food.
SLOW COOKED PULLED PORK (Serves four)
You will need:
- 1 kg pork shoulder joint (preferably bone-in – I got mine from Abel and Cole)
- 1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons muscavado sugar
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 150ml barbecue sauce (I was lazy and used some stuff out of a bottle that I bought from Florida, but it’s super easy to make your own)
- To make the spice rub: combine all of the spices and the garlic paste in a bowl. Massage the spice rub into the pork, ensuring that you coat each side of the joint thoroughly. Place in a cool place and leave to marinade for at least five hours (I left mine overnight).
- When you’re ready to cook your joint, place it in your slow cooker with 150ml of water. Cook on the ‘low’ setting for six – seven hours, or until the meat flakes into shreds when you pull it apart with the prongs of a fork.
- Once the pork is done, transfer it to a chopping board and discard the leftover liquid in the slow cooker and the bone. Shred the meat finely with a fork, place it back in the slow cooker and coat it with the barbecue sauce. Heat it on the low setting for ten minutes or so until warm. Pile on top of home made sandwich buns with the toppings of your choice (e.g. a nice slaw).
You will need:
- 1 tablespoon fast action yeast
- 125ml tepid water
- 125ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 360g bread flour (I used wholemeal as it was the only thing I had in my cupboards)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Activate the yeast by stirring it into the tepid water and let it sit until it’s dissolved and has become frothy (it should have a good head on it).
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil, sugar, and salt. Add this to the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Add all the flour and stir until it forms a shaggy dough. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough feels smooth, slightly sticky, and springs back when poked.
- Return the dough to the mixing bowl and cover. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for around an hour until it has doubled in size.
- Dust your work surface with a little flour and turn out the risen dough on top. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each into a ball which is roughly the size of your fist. Transfer the balls to an oiled baking sheet and let rise for around 30-40 minutes until they look puffy and hamburger-sized.
- Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200 degrees C. Melt the butter and brush it over the risen buns. This helps them to brown and keeps the crust soft. Bake the rolls for around 15-18 minutes until they have turned puffy and golden.
- Let the buns cool to room temperature before slicing and using.