Friday, January 10, 2014

Two Go-To Pork recipes

I promised a LONG time ago, for my pork customers that I would provide my favorite way to cook pork roast, so here it is.

I don't know why pulled pork has a bit of a reputation as fatty comfort food.  I think it's probably one of the leanest ways to eat the meat in terms of fat, although I do add some extra treats to the sauce that do make it a comfort food for sure.  But because of all the slow cooking, the fat is rendered out and I usually am able to skim off most of it, and any larger pieces still left on the meat just fall right off.  My favorite part of pulled pork is that we use every single little piece of the meat so there is nothing left but the fat and bones.  When I think about trying to respect the animal on the plate as much as I respected it here on the farm, I try really hard to use as much of it as possible. (Our dog honours the fat and bones. :)

So this is the basis for my recipe, but it changes a bit every time, depending on how I'm feeling and what I have on hand.

2 onions diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground coriander
sautee together, about 5 minutes

1/4 cup tomato paste
1 can (14oz) tomato sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. worchestershire

So that's the original version, but mine is a rough estimate of that.  I seem to never have coriander on hand, so sometimes I pretend that cumin will suffice.  And rather than having 1/2 tiny can of tomato paste in my fridge, I often either use the whole thing and just dilute it with water and don't add the tomato sauce.  Or, more commonly,  I'll open a jar of organic tomato sauce and use a couple big glugs of that instead, instead of both the tomato paste and sauce mentioned above.  I don't worry about the flavour of the sauce. It won't matter when everything simmers together for hours.

I've also gotten less picky about dicing and mincing.  It cooks for HOURS, so it doesn't really matter if it's minced, diced, etc. By the time the pork is falling apart, so is the garlic.
Now, for the extra treats: I always add a good glug of molasses.  Sometimes I do it instead of the brown sugar, or mostly, on top of.  And if I'm feeling particularly naughty and ignoring my anti-GMO manifesto, I'll pour in a splash of black pop (either root beer or cola).  Not a lot, but it does add another dimension of awesome to an already pretty great dish.
Anyway, the recipe calls for a browning of the roast, which has been rubbed with salt and pepper, but ain't nobody got time for dat around here, so I just toss the roast into the slow cooker, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and splash the sauce in on top of it. 
My chef friend Roy once expounded about the evils of calling slow cooker pork, proper pulled pork and explained the added flavour dimensions and texture of real pulled pork, cooked over coals for a day and a night or some such insanity, but again, ain't nobody got time fo dat around here, so the slow cooker it is.  And to be honest, I don't notice much difference in flavour between 8 hours on low vs. 4 on high.  The pork still falls apart either way.
Oh, right, the final steps of the recipe.  Bring out the pork onto a work surface of choice (I use our cutting board).  You may have to or want to bring it out in pieces to work with while you pull it.  I prefer using two forks and just sort of getting it into manageable pieces.  I pour the sauce into a pot, skim off the fat, get it bubbling and put the pulled pork in the sauce. It's ready to serve now, or it can sit there and simmer until you're ready.  It also freezes pretty decently and can sit in the fridge for a good few days of re-heating.
And there you have it!

Second recipe, and it's a quick one, is for those ham steaks that are basically a giant circle of lean looking meat, with a cute little round bone right in the middle.  They ARE lean and they are tender, so don't make the mistake of slow cooking for hours like a roast.  These can take a nice quick fry, but my favorite method is to make up this quick sauce and cook for about 45 mins in a 350-400 oven, or 400-450 if you're behind and only have 1/2 hour.

This is a picture of what you get in a pork box from us (give or take) and the steaks I'm talking about in this next recipe are the ones in the upper right hand corner and top center.

My Go-To Pork Sauce adapted from a recipe my friend Bev brought to me in a dish on my first day home post baby #3. :)

2tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. worchestershire
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
enough water to make it a consistency you like and enough to cover the meat.

I usually cut the steak up into enough pieces for the people I'm serving and pour the sauce over and cook at 350 until I think it's done.  It's tempting to over-cook, but you can keep it moist if you don't. 
That cute round bone in the middle is full of marrow, which is a special treat for some people.  And you can trust that the marrow in these bones is GMO, antibiotic, hormone and steroid free.  :)

Bon Appetit!