Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Roast Pork for Pulled Pork Sandwiches or Tacos

Readers my dear readers! I'm sorry to have taken so long a hiatus from Chez Charles! Summer and starting a new business have swallowed up all of my time. But I've truly missed publishing these recipes and ideas on cooking.

As a sort of compromise, I'm going to change my format a bit, and publish individual dishes, recipes, or techniques, rather than whole meals. It'll be easier for me to scribble out a quick post - and possibly more digestible for you as well!

Today I'm making a small pork roast that will be pulled apart for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. You could use this same recipe for pork tacos, or as meat on a taco salad.

Pulled Pork
(serves 4)
1 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast (I bought a 2-lb. roast and froze half)
1-2 tsp. chili powder (make it from scratch - see below)
1/2 tsp. paprika (I used smoked paprika, available from Pensey's Spices)
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt (or about half this amount of granular salt)

Two days before baking, rub the meat all over with the salt. Then rub on the remaining spices. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. It takes this amount of time for the salt to fully-penetrate the meat.

Heat oven to 275 or 300 degrees. Place roast in a small, covered roasting pan, and roast until very tender and falling apart - 2-3 hours. Allow to cool for 1 hour, covered. The bottom of the pan will be coated in juices.

Place the meat on a plastic cutting board (do not clean out the pan - see below), and pull apart the sections which are separated by fat. Using a paring knife, gently scrape away the fatty membranes, leaving as much of the meat as possible. Cut the meat across the grain to make 1/4"-long pieces, and pull these apart into chunks of desired size, removing any excess fat.

Your pan is full of intensely-flavored drippings and meat glaze. Very carefully, pour off the majority of the rendered fat, which will be floating on top. Don't worry about getting all of it - you don't want to lose any of the darker-colored juices. Add all of the pulled pork back to the pan, and with your hand use it to both mop up the juice and deglaze the pan. Mix well.

You can use this as-is, or add some of your favorite BBQ sauce. You won't believe how savory and delicious this is!

Homemade Chili Powder
Once you've done this, you'll never buy chili powder again. Buy some dried whole ancho chilis, or other large, mild, red, dried chilis. Heat oven to 300. Lay the chilis in one layer on a sheet pan, and roast until deep red and completely dehydrated (about 15-20 minutes). Cool. Pull off the tops and dump out the seeds. Break/tear each chili into ~1" pieces, and place them in batches in your coffee grinder to grind them to a powder. It's that easy, and the flavor is spectacular.

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