Saturday, May 21, 2016

Casual Entertaining: Pulled Pork

Whether I'm gaming, crafting or just hanging out with friends and family, food is almost always included in the plans of the day.  I live out in the toolies, just close enough to civilization to be convenient and just far enough from civilization to be peaceful.  But this means guests are often on the road for an hour or more to get to my home for any kind of get together so a meal time is involved 99% of the time.

We're a pretty casual couple (big surprise being from Seattle, the casual capitol, right?) and we prefer meals to be casual as well.  We're big on having our guests make themselves at home and paper plates not an unusual occurrence - after all, who wants to worry about dishes when you can be visiting...or crafting... or gaming?  I ask you, who?!

Pulled Pork is an excellent recipe for casual entertaining.  I love foods that are versatile and Pulled Pork is definitely versatile.  You can pile it on a bun or roll with some BBQ sauce and some slaw for an excellent sandwich or use it as a topping for a baked potato.  (I like mine with pepper jack cheese, pulled pork, bbq sauce, bacon, scallions or chives and sour cream - YUM!)  It can be used as a topping for nachos or a filling for a quesadilla, wrap or burrito. See what I mean?  Versatile!

The best part about recipes like this one is you put a little effort into it at the beginning and then you can set it and forget it.

I used a pork shoulder for this, and started the night before - liberally applying a dry rub then wrapping it up tightly and placing it in the fridge until morning.  In the morning, I removed it from the fridge and let it sit on the counter about 30 minutes - all the major chefs will tell you this is an important step in cooking animal proteins, assuring the meat will retain moisture.  Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat and sear the roast on all sides.

Once fully seared remove the roast to your crockpot or dutch oven and deglaze the pan.  Beer, apple cider, chicken stock and water will all work fine.  Just add 1/2 to 1 cup liquid and scrape all the lovely browned bits from the bottom of the pan and let it come to a boil.  Then turn off the heat and pour the liquid over the roast in your crockpot.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  The roast should be fork tender and falling apart, if not, keep cooking it for another hour and check it again.

Remove it to a shallow bowl and allow it to cool a bit.  It's easiest to pull it apart with your hands, but if it's still too hot to handle you can use a couple of forks to do the job.

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