In Tokyo its Spring and that means we can finally head outside and enjoy the warmer weather. Picnics in the park, going skateboarding with my kids, grabbing a beer and relaxing on the balcony while listening to Queen on the record player… And if there is one food that goes well with all of those events it has to be pulled pork! I’ve taken inspiration from the boys over at Sorted food in the UK and created my own version of an Italian pulled pork recipe. It’s super simple and the only thing you need is patience… Well, you will need a few other things, like …..
For the pork:
- 1.5 kg pork shoulder (skin off)
- 3 medium size potatoes (chopped into quarters)
- 3 carrots (chopped into large pieces, same size as potatoes)
- 2 onions (again chopped into large pieces)
- 4 bulbs of garlic (roughly chopped)
- a glass of red wine (or more, if you prefer)
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes / 4 large fresh tomatoes
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tsp of thyme
- 1 litre of stock ( I used beef, but you could use chicken or vegetable)
For the salad:
- half a cabbage
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 cucumber
- 1 red onion
- 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp of sesame oil
- 2 tsp of honey
- 1 tsp of ginger paste
1: The first thing you want to do is put a large crock pot, casserole dish, or any type of deep heavy bottom pot on your stove top and heat that baby up. Get it really hot! Add in a splash of oil and place your pork shoulder in. Sear the shoulder all over. You are not cooking it, you just want to get a nice charred colour on the outside. This will impart flavour into the cooking sauce later on.
2: After you have sealed the pork all over, take it out and add in your Onion and garlic. Using a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pot to release any bits of pork that may have gotten stuck, then add in your glass of wine and deglaze the pan, continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan to release the charred bits of pork.
3: Next you want to put your pork shoulder back into the pot along with the carrots and potato. Now you can go your own way with the vegetables, just make sure that they are a hearty type of vegetable that will hold up to a low and slow cook and not just disintegrate into the liquid.
4: Give the vegetables and pork a quick mix and coating of the wine juices, then add in your cans of tomato and beef stock until you have covered the pork. If you find that it wasn’t enough stock for you, that’s okay, you can just add in some more stock, water or wine.
5:Bring the liquid up to a boil, then cover and turn down the temperature to a low to medium heat. Allow the pork shoulder to cook for at least 3 hours. Basically the longer you go, the more tender the pork will be, but with mine 3 hours was enough to break down the connective tissue in the shoulder and make the pork super tender and juicy!
* Don’t be tempted to keep lifting the lid and checking on the pork. You will lose all the heat and it will then take longer to cook it. My advice is to check on it once every hour, to make sure the liquid hasn’t evaporated. If you find that this is happening, you may need to just keep topping it up or turn down the temperature more if you can.
6: Check that the pork is done by grabbing a fork and just dragging the prongs against it. If it starts to shred easily then you are good to go! Remove the lid and take the pork out and let it cool down slightly on a plate.
7: Remove the vegetables from the sauce with tongs and p[lace them in a bowl covered with foil to keep the heat in and then simmer the sauce until it reduces by 1/3 and you end up with a thicker consistency.
8: While the pork is cooling and the sauce is reducing you can make your salad. So start by finely slicing your cabbage, carrot, cucumber and onion. It’s important that you get all vegetables to be roughly the same size and shape. Not only for the aesthetic appeal, but also it helps get a better distribution of flavour throughout the salad.
9: Place the finely sliced vegetables into a bowl and toss. Finally, add all your wet ingredients into a small bowl, along with the ginger paste and mix well. Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and toss just before you serve.
10: After the pork has cooled enough for you to handle, you can begin the fun part of pulling your pork!…….. I’m not proud of that joke. Now, some people don’t want to get their hands dirty so you can wear gloves. Alternatively you can use a couple of forks and tear it apart that way. If you are going to use your hands, do the smart thing and wash your hands thoroughly before you start shredding the meat.
11: Once you have shredded the meat into small pieces, and some bigger pieces left over for the chef to snack on, you can add in your reduced sauce and mix the pulled pork around in it until each piece is lovingly coated.
12: Now you’re ready to plate up. You could pile some of the pork onto a nice crusty bread roll with the salad or you can serve it up on a plate like I did with the salad and slow cooked vegetables on the side. Choice is up to you.
Foreign 2 Food.