What is it about pulled pork's messy appearance that makes it so beguiling? Perhaps the obvious softness of its shredded strands or the glistening sticky sauce that threatens to mess up your face. The whole package just screams "eat me! eat me!".
When I was growing up, I loved meat that falls off the bone and disintegrates into shreds and absorbs the sauce. These shreds are never done on purpose, no matter how delicious they are. Food presentation is given so much value that if it falls apart, it is considered a cooking mishap.
When I first had pulled pork, I fell for it instantly. Juicy, tender, caramelized, intensely flavoured, saucy: these are the keywords I look for in food. Low and slow cooking results to meltingly tender, juicy pork that shreds with no effort.
Banging in the oven is my favourite cooking method. It means that I have a couple of hours of free time whilst the food cooks without any action required on my part. After doing almost nothing, I am rewarded with such deliciousness. The first sight of the cooked meat takes my breath away, the first taste makes my heart skip a beat. Fantastic.
1 kg. whole piece of pork shoulder or butt
1 can of cola
1/2 c. tomato catsup
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. light soy sauce
2 cloves, garlic crushed
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. chopped red chilli
1 tbsp. coriander powder
1 tbsp. white wine or cider vinegar
1/2 tsps. freshly ground cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried mixed herbs
Mix all of the ingredients and use to marinade the pork. Leave for at least half an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 350° F/ 180° C. Transfer the pork to a baking dish and pour the marinade over it. Put some of the onion slices on top of the pork joint. Cover tightly with foil. Bake in the oven at the pre-set temperature for half an hour.
Lower the heat to 300° F/ 150° C for a further 2 hours or until the pork is very tender. Test by pulling the meat with a fork. It should come apart easily. You could make this recipe ahead up to this point and proceed with the next step the following day.
Take the foil off and raise the temperature to 400° F/ 200° C. Scrape off the onion bits that are on top of the pork and bake for half an hour until browned. You can also do this on a barbecue for a more smokey taste. If cooked ahead, cook longer until the meat is piping hot.
Take the pan out of the oven. Transfer the pork to a dish. Trim the excess fat off and using two forks, shred the meat.
Puree the sauce with a hand blender. Transfer to a saucepan and reduce until syrupy.
Serve the pork on buns, drizzled with sauce, with salad and fries.
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