In a rare “Post-Christmas” wave of creativity, I got the smart idea to try and make a dish that’s been all the rage around Victoria (and probably everywhere else) for the past few years, and that’s a big ol’ heapin’ helpin’ of “Pulled Pork”! I figured that if got a good deal on the raw ingredient, (Er, “pig”) I could easily whip up (then freeze) a big batch which I could eventually thaw and heat up for random group lunches, afternoon parties and on those rare Friday nights when I don’t want to cook – usually after a few at the pub. A quick scan of the online grocery flyer confirmed my timing was impeccable: Pork Butts were on sale for a buck a pound! Not believing my good fortune, I immediately got on the blower and called the local Cambodian Pork Delivery guy asking if he could drop one by the house on his way home from the market, which he was more than happy to do – see photo above.
Okay, I made that part up; we actually went to the store and had to haul the beast home ourselves; and while it wasn’t “The Whole Hog” like in the picture above, (“Whole Hog”… get it?) it was still 21 lbs of pork butt that needed a bunch of love and attentions to become my soon-to-be-famous “Dutch Style” Pulled Pork”, so here’s a step-by-step description of how I transformed this mammoth beast into many tasty meals for us: I hope you enjoy!
Not much to look at here: Just your basic pork butt, in need of a little “Hannibal Lector” style attention… meaning what? Meaning first, the outside (and very fatty) skin needs to come off.
Once you’ve gotten the fat cap off, you’ll be left with a big, bony lump; mostly because at this point that’s what it is. Now the bone has got to go; and if at all possible, get a boning knife to get the job done properly and safely. If you don’t have a boning knife, go slowly and BE CAREFUL! You’ll be navigating some crazy territory in there, and don’t want to remove any fingers along with the bone. The goal is to try and keep it in one piece as much as possible, but don’t worry, it’s no problem if it comes off in 2 or 3 large chunks; if this is the case, try your best to split them at the seams. What you really need to avoid is cutting it into 23 small pieces; this is an absolute no-no. Take your time, and get it right.
And voila! With the bone out, next we need to marinate the pork, which means we need a marinade, and I won’t kid you; I just opened the cupboards and fridge, grabbed whatever I had on hand and tossed it in the mini blender to whip the living hell out of it. Below is the ingredient list; and while it’s not exact in it’s quantites, I suggest using generous portions of herbs and spices since pork butts are big, even with the fat and bone gone. In my case, I was still sitting on about 16 lbs of pure pig that needed to be flavoured up before cooking! BTW: The marinade turned out awesome!
- 1 1/2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- A BIG Squeeze of Lemon Juice
- Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
- Whole Garlic Bulb (peeled!)
- 4 oz Fresh Parsley
- Cumin, paprika, Oregano and Worcestershire Sauce
Once the marinade was done, I poured it in a bowl (2 bowls actually) and mixed it thoruoughly until the pork was all covered, then let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so to absorb the flavours. In the end I wound up with 3 big pieces and 5 smaller pieces, each the size of a small coffee cup. The key with the size is that (a) they aren’t so small they fall through the grill when being bar-b-qued, and (b) they fit in a roasting pan for the slow cooking process. Here’s what the marinaded pork looked like… it’s starting to take shape! Just before your hour is up, crank up your BBQ on high…
When it’s time and the BBQ is rarin’ to go, cart your slabs o’ pig out and get them all torched up so they have some nice grill marks on the outside; the goal here IS the grill marks, and not to cook the meat all the way; in fact they should be thoroughly uncooked since that’s the final step, the one that adds the “pulled” aspect to “Pulled Pork”. I would show you a picture of me grilling the slabs, but being January it’s dark outside at 4 p.m. and I didn’t have a light on my deck, so you’re out of luck. However, instead I’d like to show you this lovely picture of a donkey I took while in Peru last year; and while this photo really has nothing to do with this recipe, he’s so darn cute I just had to put him in to fill the space!
donkey pork as been grilled, it should look something like the picture below, all charred and gorgeous and ready for a long sauna to finish it off and make it perfect. Oh, and here comes the “uncommon” part… do you remember I called this “Dutch Style” Pulled Pork? Here’s why: Next I poured 8 oz of beer over the meat to (a) add flavour, and (b) slowly steam it so that it falls apart, and chose to use Heineken, thereby making it “Dutch Style” – get it? If clogs and tulips aren’t your thing, other variations are: “American Style” (Budweiser), “Canadian Style” (Molson) or “Mexican Style” (Corona); you get the point. Just choose your poison, pour in on, get the lid on the pot, (thereby sealing in all the juice and flavours) pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees – and guess what? You’re almost done. Feel free to drink the other half can of beer in celebration of your culinary achievement!
Pop the COVERED roasting pan in the oven to begin the roasting; then after an hour, turn down the oven to 225 degrees and let slow-cook for another 4 – 6 hours. You’ll know it’s done when the meat tears off in your hand all long and stringy, kind of like a bunch of old gym shoe shoelaces, so just test it until you feel it’s ready. When it is finally done, take the lid off and cool, eventually moving to a refrigerator in order to be food safe. A couple hours later, your chilled pork will look like this:
Congratulations! All the hard work is done, and you are now a “Pulled Pork” Aficionado! In my inaugural run, I wound up with 13.5 lbs of pure, gorgeous, lean pulled pork (which equates to 27 x 8 oz portions) for only $21 bucks… not bad, eh? Oh sure, I’ll still be eating pulled pork in July, but what the heck? It’s still a lot of meat. What happens next is up to you; you can tear it up and smother it with gravy, bbq sauce, or just eat it’s juicy self on it’s own – you can make pulled pork sandwiches, poutine, subs, etc… whatever you feel like at the time. One thing is sure; you’ll impress everyone with you amazing pulled pork cooking skills!
Anyway, that’s my inaugural run at making “Pulled Pork – the European Version”; I hope you like it and maybe even give it a try yourself one of these days when you’re also really, really hungry and have a day to kill. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m thirsty and still haven’t found that half can of Henekein! Cheers!
Have you ever just “gone for it” and made a type of food you’ve heard of, tasted but never actually cooked yourself? What was it and how’d it turn out? Let us know in the comments!