Today is a bit of a two-for-one deal – there’s a lovely recipe for pulled pork and also an awesome serving suggestion.
Another pulled pork recipe I hear you cry? Yes, I know it’s barely a couple of weeks since the last one, but whilst the other recipe was almost elegant in its simplicity, this recipe shows how, with the addition of a few ordinary ingredients, you can create a dish of an altogether different character. Lets call the previous dish a Level 1 recipe. This one moves it on a bit to Level 2, with a dark, rich and spicy cooking liquid. Level 3 would bring even more intensity of flavour with the addition of a dry spice rub – we’ll get to that sometime later.
I grew up in the orchards of Herefordshire (not literally you understand – gimme a break here, I’m trying to be lyrical), and so to me, the link between apples and pork is a natural one. In the old days, pigs would be allowed into the orchards to eat up all the windfalls, and this would add flavour to the meat. The British custom of eating apple sauce with pork isn’t just an idle tradition – the acidity of the apples helps counteract the fattiness of the meat (see also vinegar with fish & chips, mint sauce with lamb, gooseberries with mackerel). Throw in some cider, cider vinegar and Bramley apples and this is a veritable pork-apple-festival on your tastebuds!
This is also another of my favourite types of recipe – set it and forget it in the slow cooker. The only downside of this low-maintenance style of cooking is having to endure for hours all the wonderful smells wafting through the house. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could always use the oven on very low – for example 80-100°C – but it would require a little more effort (sealing the roasting tin with foil and basting every hour or so) to ensure the joint didn’t dry out.
Apple-Baked Pulled Pork – serves 10-12
2-3kg of pork shoulder joint(s) – boned and rolled if preferred, but bone-in is also fine. Whatever can fit in your slow cooker. I use 3 x 1kg joints.
2 medium onions
2 Bramley cooking apples
300g dark muscovado sugar
150ml apple juice
60ml Worcestershire sauce
60ml Dijon mustard
120ml cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Peel and roughly chop the onions.
- Peel, core and chop the apples.
- Put half of the apples and half of the onions into the slow cooker.
- Arrange pork joint(s) on top and scatter the rest of the apples and onions over.
- Mix all of the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and warm over gentle heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour liquid into slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 12 hours.
- Remove the meat and allow to drain in a sieve.
- When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and fat (the meat will just fall apart) and discard.
- Cover the meat with foil and keep warm.
- Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl and reserve the apple and onion pieces.
- Place the liquid in the fridge/freezer for 30 minutes to cool. As it cools, any fat will rise to the surface and solidify. It can then be easily removed.
- Lift the solidified fat from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and discard.
- Pour the cooking liquid into a pan and add the apple and onion pieces. Use an immersion blender (or alternatively a liquidiser) and puree to a smooth consistency. Bring to the boil and simmer until it has thickened to your liking.
- Pour over the prepared meat and serve.
Alternately, make some delicious Tiger Rolls and some Apple & Fennel Coleslaw and serve up the awesome sandwich in the picture above. Not only are the flavours amazing, they compliment each other perfectly. Make the sandwich with the undressed meat and then drizzle with gravy to your liking. The contrast in texture between the cool crunch of the coleslaw, the hot, piquant, melt-in-the-mouth pork and the ‘crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside’ Tiger Bread make these sandwiches a cut above the rest.
Cost £1.20 per person (August 2011, Pork £4 a kilo)
This is more a set of assembly instructions rather than a complete recipe, but even if you haven’t made muffins from this recipe (and whyever NOT may I ask????), you can still enjoy this delicious way to start a lazy Sunday. All the preparation can be done the night before and the sandwiches left in the fridge overnight. In the morning, just 20 minutes in a warm oven and breakfast is served!
Now you might think that these sandwiches bear a marked resemblance to a breakfast menu item available at a well-known high street chain of food outlets (Lawks! What a convoluted way to avoid saying the M-word!). And you would be correct. It’s a great sandwich. I just think it can be made better and far cheaper at home.
Now this recipe includes mention of cheese. On the one hand, it’s a bit like gilding the lily, because you’ve already got two lots of protein in there, but then on the other, if you’re going to indulge in a luxurious lazy Sunday brunch sandwich, you might as well go the whole hog. Don’t feel obliged to use any cheese at all but, when melted, it does provide a lovely, squidgy ‘glue’ keeping everything together. I’ve tried these with several variations: Gruyere is very melty, Cheddar is also popular, but top marks go to those little foil-wrapped cheese triangles, which just seem to have the best mix of smoothness, cheesiness and creaminess without being either too overpowering or too oily.
Avoid pre-packaged ham if at all possible. Apart from paying extra for the handling and packaging, chances are that there’s a fair bit of water bulking out the weight, and nothing dampens the prospect of a delicious sandwich more than having to blot your sliced meat before using. Most supermarkets have deli counters where you can get delicious ham sliced to order and to your liking, sometimes straight from a whole joint. If you can find it, Brunswick is a very tasty smoked ham – a household favourite here.
I’m also including instructions for making the omelette. Omelettes were one of the first things I learned to cook as a child, so this is completely to my own taste, but then I am of the opinion that that is how everyone should approach cooking. I don’t have any truck with being told how an omelette should be – I’m going to cook it how I like it, and how I like it is without any runny bits thankyouverymuch. Feel free to disregard and do your own thing.
Breakfast Sandwiches – serves 4 (or 1 if you’re very hungry)
4 slices ham
4 portions of cheese (optional)
small pan for omelette-making
circular pastry cutter
2 baking sheets
- Make an omelette with the eggs: Whisk the eggs briefly, season with pepper (the ham is salty enough for us, but go with your own preference). Melt the butter in the pan and when it starts to bubble and sizzle, pour in the eggs. As the edges of the eggs cook, use a spatula to draw them to the centre. The uncooked egg will run into its place. This will create folds of cooked egg and make for a fairly deep omelette. If the finished omelette looks a little too wobbly for your liking, pop the pan under the grill for 2-3 minutes. It makes the egg puff up nicely.
- Use the pastry cutter to cut four circles of egg from the cooked omelette, and 8 circles of ham from the slices. If your ham slices are small, have 1 neat circle and a pile of trimmings – tastes just as delicious!
- Tear the muffins apart and spread each half with the cheese of your choice (if using).
- Lay one circle of ham onto the cheese and the circle of egg on top of the ham. Top with a second circle of ham and finally the other half of the muffin.
- Wrap closely in foil. Keep in the fridge overnight if preparing them for the following day.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan
- Lay sandwiches on one of the baking sheets and lay the second baking sheet on top. This encourages the muffins and filling to squidge together nicely.
- Warm in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Cost: £3.60 Using home-made muffins and cheese triangles (July, 2011)