Level of difficulty: easy but patience is a necessity.
The Jim score: after 4 hours the meat scored 6/10, at the end of the day it had reached the dizzying height of 7/10. Must do better.
After spending some important time whinging at Dave about the challenge and that I didn’t want to do meat and I would never do this, I got over it and decided, ‘well of course! It’s the Challenge – I wouldn’t necessarily make these things – that’s the whole point you whingebag!’. Dave was rather nicer and listened patiently whilst I talked myself out of my mood.
With all that in the past, the first day of December meant a barbecue for The Jim and I. I don’t think that getting up, whilst it was still dark outside was the best idea for a Sunday morning, but we did it nonetheless.
The pulled pork challenge began the previous weekend with a visit to Queen’s Park farmer’s market where we got hold of a juicy looking, large shoulder of pork. That went in the freezer and then all that was left needed for the challenge was charcoal for the BBQ. Why do petrol stations stock it?
So on Friday evening, preceding Sunday cooking, the pork came out of the freezer to defrost.
On Saturday afternoon it came out of the fridge and I found it was still frozen in the centre but rubbed it with spices anyway – I used a ready spice mix given to me by a friend who lives in Chicago. It was paprika, celery salt, garlic, black pepper – all very suitable for pulled pork.
Then before bed, the meat went back in the fridge ready for the morning.
Sunday morning the alarm jolted us awake, the pork was taken out of the fridge and coals into the barbecue, natural fire lighters lit, we sat about drinking tea until the coals were white hot, about half an hour later.
The coals were pushed to one side, the grill rack in position and I placed the meat, skin side up on the rack with no coals underneath. I also was nervous about burning the meat so for a bit, it sat on loose foil – I also thought it might make it extra juicy. On with the lid and more waiting.
About two and a half hours later, we lifted the lid and I tested the temperature with a meat thermometer. It was roughly at 85 so then we left it for another two hours before taking it off the heat.
And the results were solidly OK. The outer part of the pork was like pulled pork and shredded nicely when pulled apart with two forks, but then deeper into the meat I got, the more solid it was.
As we had to rush off, we made a sandwich with the shredded bit. And a very fine sandwich it was – American sandwiches eat your heart out! Mine had shredded savoy cabbage, BBQ sauce, homemade tomato sauce and the pork.
So before we ran out the door I wrapped all the remaining meat in foil and shoved it back on the BBQ. And there it remained until 7.30pm!
We came home to a barely warm barbecue, took out the meat parcel (along with two potato parcels) and investigated once again. The meat was much softer and I think if I do this again (which I will as it’s really easy) I will make sure to cook for a lot longer. Plus the leftovers have made the main event of my pulled pork and kimchi salad for lunch today. Delicious!
I feel a bit bad about the poor ratings, but the pork just wasn’t very……porky. I blame myself for the first lower score as it was me who was hurrying us out of the door to some old car event. If I’d let Anya keep it on the bbq for longer, I think the result would have been better.
But the sandwich was tasty.
I think we should try it again when I’m not bothering her about something.
Well, it still looks pretty good, in spite of the low score, and I wouldn’t say that six or seven out of ten was too low, certainly not for a first attempt. Not too bad, but definitely room for improvement there.
Personally, I would have removed the skin and outer layer of fat before cooking. This would allow the smoke to penetrate deeper all around the meat and gives a better result (in my opinion). And yes, pulled pork isn’t something you can rush. My first attempt was OK, but really needed longer cooking. My later attempts were very much better – you should certainly try this again, and just leave it cooking for longer. Invite some friends round, open a beer or some wine, and relax while you wait…