The arrangement for our stay in the country cottage was that each family unit would cook at least one meal. For my designated meal I decided to try pulled pork on the barbecue. I’ve done it once before back in Beaconsfield, but the pork didn’t “pull” as easily as I would’ve liked so this was my chance to get it right.
The day before we headed North, I went to Atwater market where a very nice butcher man cut me a 3.5kg chunk of pork shoulder with the bone in. He explained to me where the bones were and how they would come out and gave me a rough cooking time (minimum 7 hours, best with 12). I took the meat home, rubbed it with a dry rub of paprika, black pepper, mustard powder and sugar, wrapped it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.
Pulled pork is great on it’s own, but for the perfect experience it needs a bit of sauce. Into a saucepan I threw some chicken stock, some apple cider vinegar, some molasses, a couple of minced dates, a minced garlic clove, some chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper. After bringing it to the boil I let it simmer until it reduced by about half then poured it into a mason jar ready for transport.
We headed up to the country with the pork in a cooler, which went straight into the fridge when we got there. I needed the meat to be at room temperature when it went on the barbecue so I got up ridiculously early the next morning (about 5:30), took the meat out, gave it another rub with the dry rub and left it to acclimatize while I went back to bed. Two hours later I was up again, lighting one side of the barbecue, getting it up to about 250F, putting the pork no the unlit side and closing the lid.
Apart from occasionally checking the temperature, I didn’t touch it for the rest of the day. The meat started cooking at 8am, so if we wanted to eat at a reasonable time I wasn’t going to be able to go for the full 12 hours but I decided to try for 10. In Beaconsfield I had cooked it for 7 hours, which definitely wasn’t enough.
At 6pm I took the meat off the barbecue and let it rest while I cooked some potatoes and heated up the sauce. At 6:30 came the moment of truth, as I started pulling the pork. It fell apart almost perfectly; another hour or two would’ve cooked it to perfection, but it was 95% there.
As I pulled off pieces, I threw them into the sauce until I had a saucepan full of sauced up meat which I took straight to the table with some mashed potatoes and one of my mother-in-law’s superior salads. Everyone tucked in, including the vegetarian, and most people had seconds, so I think it was a success.