Sunday, December 14, 2008

Low and Slow

The first recipe I'll share is for the pork, which is my all-time favorite go-to thing to make for a party. Pork shoulder (AKA pork butt) is very inexpensive and very hard to screw up. You can flavor it in a million-and-one different ways, and it's a never-fail crowd pleaser. When you bring it home, remove some, but not all, of the fat cap {the thick white layer}.

I wanted to keep the flavors simple so it would meld well with the roasted garlic aioli I attempted to make. {Attempted is the operative word here. More on that later.} Anyway, I used a mix of freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, and a great seasoning called Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt. This was a staple in our house growing up, and it's still a staple in mine. {And Peyton's!} We lovingly call it Krazy Jane's. It's fantastic on pasta, steak, veggies...and it makes a mean bloody mary seasoning.

I digress.

Take a handful of seasoning and toss it on the pork shoulder. Rub it in like a nice shiatsu massage. This is a crucial step. The meat is thick, so the seasoning has to penetrate, and it won't unless you really smoosh it in. Then put the hunk-o-meat in a deep-sided roasting pan, and cover with foil. Now here comes the absolute most important thing to remember...forgetting this is the only way possible to screw this up. The oven temp must go no higher than 270ยบ. For a 7-pound roast, you'll want to give it at least 6 hours, but it could probably go even longer.

The magic of this cut of meat is in its heavy marbling. At this low heat, the fat and connective tissue completely melt, rendering the meat juicy, flavorful, and succulent. Any hotter, and you won't get the luscious texture. And that's it. When it comes out, let it cool for about a half-hour, and then using two forks, shred it into bite-size pieces. Put a good amount between a nice, soft bun, and voila—pulled pork sliders!

Here are some other flavoring options for this versatile cut of pork...
Carnitas: Cumin, chipotle chile powder, and a touch of cinnamon
Vietnamese-style: Fish sauce, sugar, small hot chiles, and lime zest

Southern BBQ: Smoked paprika, sweet paprika, Krazy Jane's, brown sugar, and garlic powder

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