My friend recently asked me, if I could eat only one meat for the rest of my life, what would it be? PORK. No hesitation, no umming and ahhing, pork. Pig, pig, piggy, oink. Think about the bacon, the sausage, the belly, the crackling, the cheeks, Percy Pigs (not strictly speaking pork but you get the idea). My Jewish Grandad would probably disown me, but, if there’s no pork, then I’ll walk.
Pulled pork is a way of life in the South. Each area has it’s own recipe, from the oozing, seductive braising liquor found in Tennessee to South Carolina’s 48 hour dry rub resting time. It can tell you more about a person than if they are a Republican or a Democrat. Seriously. It’s a serious business how you pull your pig.
Personally, I don’t think there are many things in life that are better than pulled pork. Tangy, molasses-rich barbecue sauce, meat that falls apart like a teenager who’s been dumped for the first time, all nestled on a soft, white bun. It’s like a cloud hugging a big, hoggy, smoky best friend. A beautiful thing.
Pulled pork is all about the balance of flavour. It’s a lot like Thai cooking in that way, which is built around a delicate play off between sweet, spicy, sour and salty – which I like to think of as something of a motto for life, not just for your barbecue. The spice rub gives you the heat here, mostly from paprika, cayenne and black pepper, so you HAVE to balance it with a nice sweet liquid. Move in Coca Cola and Jack Daniels, Hello delicious dinner time.
Coca Cola originally was invented as a pharmacist’s cure for headaches, it’s name coming from the coca leaf and the cola nut that made it. Add a little (or a lot) of sweetness and some fizz and BANG, Coca Cola as we know and love it today. The dark colour stains the meat whilst it cooks, making something of a trashy brine, and I like to think that the bubbles help tenderise the shoulder whilst is slowly yields to the heat of the oven.
In keeping with this idea of balance, to sound like a greedy Dalai Lama, I love to serve this particular recipe with a sharp, punchy Green Chilli Slaw and pillowy soft baked potato – done the old school way, in the oven for an hour. Just this time, MICROWAVES BE GONE. A dollop of cool, loose sour cream and prepare to enter food coma.