I don’t actually speak Spanish. Perhaps you’ve noticed.
Still very tired.
Can I write an entire post
using haiku? Sí.
Behold the raw pork:
Juicy, pink, fatty goodness.
Okay, now I’ll rub in the spices. You guide ME.
Garlic, cumin, salt,
sugar and oregano.
Cubans know what’s what.
Wrap the spice-rubbed pork well like you’re swaddling a baby, or suffocating a Pomeranian.
Hey, pork! All aboard!
The last train to shnookieville*
leaves the station now.
Your plastic cocoon
only lasts twenty-four hours.
*This was what Brian’s mom called “going to sleep” when he was a child.
Do not lick the grill,
the grates are extremely hot.
(although I did it)
Mop every hour:
Orange juice, and more garlic.
Plus one for Cuba.
How many hours?
I lost count after seven.
Prob’ly a billion.
I stuck my whole face into this before the guests arrived. And you know what? They would have eaten it anyway, because it was that good.
Give up the ghost, pork –
you are putty to my forks.
Not pork. Don’t riot.
Cole slaw is boring.
What’s not boring? Pineapple
with Thai chili paste.
Confound you, Fresh Direct and your under-ripened mangoes. I shake my fist.
jalapeño and chili,
The pork is in love.
You think it’s just fruit,
then it kicks you in the nuts.
Ha! Take that, gonads!
How tired are you of the haiku? Because I could go ALL DAY LONG.
We had four whole pork shoulders to smoke. If you have that much pork, why make it all taste the same? So we did two shoulders with a traditional North Carolina-style rub and mop (Coming soon to a blog near you. This one, I mean.) (You probably got that. I’ll shut up now.) and the other two Cuban-style, with a garlicky rub and mojo mop.
Pulled pork is really pretty simple if you’ve got a smoker and 10 or 12 hours on your hands: The meat gets its spice rub a day ahead of time and sits in the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, to enhance its deliciousness. The plastic comes off a few hours before smoking kick-off time so the spice crust can dry out, and then the pork hunk is hoisted onto the grill.
Since this is barbecuing and not grilling, we’re going for low and slow: 225 degrees, fueled by lump hardwood charcoal and hickory wood. You leave them the hell alone for the first 3 or 4 fours, then start basting with the mop every hour after that. Under the influence of smoke and low heat the connective tissue in the pork breaks down and the fat slowly melts, basting the whole shoulder in luscious pork fat and turning it into a quivering, silky mass. Of course, you won’t actually see this happen because it’ll be hidden under a gorgeous, garlicky crust. You just have to trust. Once the pork hits 190, it’s removed from the grill and left to sit for several hours until it’s cool enough to be handled.
When it comes to pulling, I actually prefer to use my hands rather than forks, especially when I have to pull 32 pounds of it. When you crack these babies open – the crust that develops on the outside isn’t called “bark” for no reason – the muscles that make up the shoulder fall apart in your hands and the entire bone pops right out, perfectly clean. Then, it’s just a matter of shredding the pork into the size of your choosing and trying not to eat more than you shred.* Be sure to shred some bark into the mix, because it’s full of delicious flavor taste, and add some more mop for moisture and flavor.
*I was not good at this.
Coleslaw is traditional with pulled pork, but I don’t like coleslaw and I thought something brighter would be more fun. I threw together a spicy pineapple relish with mango, jalapeño, thai chili paste and a little sugar. It was light, fresh, tart, spicy and sweet, and went perfectly with the garlic and orange-inflected pork.
Can you tell I really like this pork? I really liked this pork.
Cuban-style Pulled Pork
1 bone-in pork shoulder
2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. salt
8 cloves garlic, put through a press
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2/3 c. orange juice (fresh is best)
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Combine all the spices and pat them onto the pork shoulder. Wrap the rubbed shoulder well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 48 hours. Unwrap at least 2 hours before you plan to start cooking.
If you’re smoking, prep your smoker and chuck the pork on fat side up. Smoke unmolested for 3-4 hours, then start basting with mop every hour. Remove when the meat’s internal temp hits 190.
Let the pork rest for at least 2 hours, then get to pullin’.
You can also do this indoors: Use the same instructions for the spice rub, and roast the pork in the oven at 275. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil to the mojo sauce and serve as an accompaniment.
1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
1 fresh mango, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 tbsp, thai chili paste (the spicy cock)
sugar to taste
Toss all ingredients together. Refrigerate, mixing occasionally, for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.