Tuesday, March 4, 2008

March 4: Pulled Pork Barbecue

I have a confession to make: I am on a diet.

I know, diets don't work. It's something I say all the time. Lifestyle change is the way to go when trying to drop weight. Move more, eat less.

But here's the thing: I have developed insulin resistance, which is both complicating the regimen with which I manage my diabetes, and also, it's making it practically impossible for me to get pregnant. Both are equally frustrating.

My husband's commute is now a whopping 2 hours a day, greatly increasing the time he spends being inactive. And now he is putting on weight as well.

We needed big crashing change in our life, and we figure that we can modify that easier than from where we are. And so, we've pretty much cut our calorie intake in half. It's not really sustainable, but it's been a hell of a kickstart. I've lost 8 pounds in the past week; Dan, who doesn't weight himself but allowed me to put a piece of yarn around his waist to measure him, is down about an inch and a half of yarn and two loops on his belt buckle.

We're pleased, and encouraged by our progress. We know we won't always be having carrot sticks and water for lunch, but when we can eat like this, it's turning out to be really, really good for us.

So of course, what am I craving? Barbecue.

Mmmmm, barbecue. Dry-rubbed, grilled pulled pork slathered in gooey, sticky, spicy sauce, in a big pile on a plate next to a scoop of potato salad and a scoop of coleslaw. Cuban style pork shoulder marinated in lime and garlic, sliced and served with rice and black beans. Carolina-style chopped picnic roast, with thin, sharp vinegar sauce, topped with sweet slaw on a hamburger bun. Hawaiian Kalua pig, simple and flawless and smoky, with steamed white rice. My mouth is watering as I think about it. I may stop writing a minute so I can go eat a celery stick.

This is the wrong time of year for barbecue, of course, but that's never stopped me. I've made barbecue on my stovetop, in my crockpot, and in my oven all at various times of the year, and to be honest, I actually prefer to make barbecue somewhere other than on the grill, where I have to monitor the fire and add fuel every so often. The crock pot is my favorite.

I don't have a recipe that I follow, and barbecue is a spur-of-the-moment thing for me: I make barbecue when I happen to be in the grocery store and see a nice-looking piece of pork shoulder or roast that looks like it'll make good barbecue. I rub it with a copious amount of some combination of garlic, ancho chile powder, cayenne, crushed red pepper, cumin, dry mustard seed, coarse salt, black pepper, and cinnamon. Into the Dutch oven to brown stovetop, then into the slow-cooker with a mixture of low-sodium chicken stock and liquid smoke to make the house smell invitingly like barbecue for 8 or 10 hours. I pull out as much of the fat as I can because, while pork fat makes things taste good, it does not make the texture particularly enjoyable. Finally, I just mix in bottled barbecue sauce, usually KC Masterpiece, because it's not too sweet, sometimes spiced up with a couple of dashes of some kind of hot pepper sauce.

But that's a little vague for most people, and not really a recipe. So here's a real recipe for pork barbecue--one that you can make in your oven. It even includes a recipe for barbecue sauce, in case you are so inclined.

Also, I have to plead ignorance. I am not sure what the Boston butt is, where it comes from on a pig, or anything else. I use mostly pork shoulder, or, if I find a good-looking one, pork loin. Pork loin is what I typically use for kalua pig, which is not sauced and really a recipe for some other time. Go with pork shoulder in place of the Boston butt, I say.

Pulled Pork Barbecue

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 each medium yellow onions
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 ounces beer
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 each canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 5-pound bone-in Boston butt

Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and very soft, about 20 minutes.

Increase heat to high; add chili powder, cumin, paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add beer, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, tomato paste, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, trim all visible fat from the pork.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the pork, spooning sauce over it. Cover the pan, transfer to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the pork over, cover, and bake for 1 1/2 hours more. Uncover and bake until a fork inserted into the meat turns easily, 1 to 2 hours more.

Transfer the pork to a large bowl and cover with foil. Pour the sauce into a large measuring cup or glass bowl and refrigerate until the fat and sauce begin to separate, 15 minutes. Skim off the fat. Return the sauce to the pan and heat over medium-high until hot, about 4 minutes.

Remove the bone and any remaining pieces of fat from the meat. The bone should easily slip away from the tender meat. Pull the pork apart into long shreds using two forks. Add the hot sauce to the meat; stir to combine. Serve hot.

No comments: