I am just not a cold weather person. I really don't enjoy anything to do with the cold or being outside in cold weather. Aside from the one week (ish) of snow that is nice (but often does not appear anyway) around Christmas, I have almost no use for the cooler seasons. Almost. The one and pretty much sole saving grace is all-important: the food. Mmmm. Comfort food is really my specialty and absolute favourite to cook. Baked pastas, casseroles, stocks and soups...you name it. I love spending a cold Sunday with a roast-something in the oven and a pot of stock on the stove. And with the somewhat abrupt arrival of cool weather this fall, I've already made some dishes that could be new favourites in the comfort food rotation: chili, chicken corn chowder (there's the corn again), skillet mac and cheese...YUM.
But the best was actually the first of the season, and was somewhat premature. On what was probably the last really warm weekend in September, my friend Laura and I decided to try out some pulled pork shoulder up at an adorable stuffed moose-laden cottage (Like the dolls, not the beheaded kind) in Haliburton, Ontario. And man was it GOOD. So good that we ate the entire four pound shoulder between five people in less than 24 hours. We ate some on buns for dinner, in crepes for breakfast and stuffed in pitas for lunch. And you know what? It just made us crave MORE pulled pork. I made it again the following weekend.
And ate all of that too.
I think I'm in love.
(I realize this isn't exactly the best picture ever. But it's the only one I have, and from a Facebook page so it's the best I could do)
Pulled Pork Shoulder
adapted from theKitchn
4 to 5 pound pork shoulder, bone-in
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium yellow onions (or one VERY large one, as I did) peeled and cut into wedges
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
8 medium-sized tomatoes
1 bottle of beer (any kind...I used Keith's the first time, Guiness the second. Both were amazing)
1. Trim the pork shoulder of any thick layers of fat. Combine the brown sugar, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Rub pork with the spice mixture, making sure to rub into all the nooks and crannies. Allow the pork to sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours in the fridge (we did the rub the day before going up north and cooked the next day)
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pot. Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and beer. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to bring up any browned bits.
*Note: We didn't want to bring a dutch oven to the cottage, so we used a pan for the sear and then cooked about half the veggies and a bit of beer in the same pan just to pick up some of the crust, then moved the entire thing to a small roasting pan. The second time I made this at home, I used the dutch oven and both methods worked perfectly fine.
4. Return the pork to the pot. Cover and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, flipping over the pork every hour or so to make sure the whole thing stays moist. When it's ready the meat will be extremely tender and pull away from the bone easily. Shred the pork in separate bowls, using tongs to pull large chunks of meat off the bone and then two forks to pull apart the meat. You can separate the meat from the fatty bits while you're doing this (or leave the fat in - it's tasty!). You can also do this in one large bowl, but I found that once there was too much meat in a bowl it got harder to pull apart. Also using smaller bowls will allow you to have different levels of sauciness. Discard the bone or set aside for another use.
5. Now...you can decide what to do with your pork. We made three bowls:
- Plain pork (which was a terrible idea, unless you want to use this for some other use later. We ended up mising this in with the other bowls later)
- Pork with the beer braise sauce and vegetables
- Pork with a beer braise/BBQ sauce mix, heavier on the BBQ sauce. We cooked this one in a separate, small pot for a few minutes so that the BBQ flavour wasn't so stark