Stacey’s Shredded pork tacos in Colorado last year were spicy and succulent and I have been looking forward to experimenting with a pork ‘butt’ again . Slow-cooked all day, the pork ‘butt’ is actually part of the shoulder and is the perfect example of an inexpensive cut of meat that turns into wonder when cooked in low heat over a long period of time. Marbling that runs throughout prevents the pork from drying out and eventually melts away allowing it to be ‘pulled’ or shredded effortlessly. I have considered becoming a vegetarian many times, but I always reconsider when thoughts of tender smoked ribs, sugar-crusted ham and pulled pork come to mind!
Having dined at Mustards Grill (an institution in the Napa wine country) our wine group agreed that Cindy Pawlcyn and her crew are experts in preparing pork. Their BBQ Baby back ribs are marvelous and the Mongolian pork chops with braised red cabbage has been a signature dish for many years. Fortunately for us, the Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook was published in 2001 and it remains a favorite until today.
It is SOME COOKBOOK! Our wine group has used it many times: Hanger steak with watercress sauce and Onion jam at Jeff and Doris’ was to die for and the Crab cakes with red beet and horseradish remoulade and Seared Ahi tuna on sesame crackers with wasabi cream are brilliant appetizers. Brian and Helen have mastered the Mongolian pork chops. Strawberry-rhubarb cobbler with black pepper biscuits topped with Caramel ice cream, and Lemon-lime meringue pie (with it’s sky high brown sugar meringue) are most impressive – just ask Nina! Being a person who doesn’t partake of dessert very often, she scarfed a generous slice of the pie down in no time and we’ll never let her forget it!
Slow-Smoked BBQ Pork Sandwiches with Ooo-Eee! Sauce is a great recipe that requires the meat to be smoked over a period of several hours. Having endured unusually frigid temperatures in Houston of late, setting up the smoker was out of the question! I opted to slow-roast it in the oven and was rewarded with sweet, juicy and very tender meat that took no effort to pull apart. Apply the seasoning rub the night before you plan to roast it, if possible.
Slow-Roasted BBQ Pork Sandwiches with Ooo-Eee! Sauce and Sweet-and-Sour Coleslaw adapted from the Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook
1 (2½ - 3 lb) bone-in pork butt or picnic roast (I bought a 7lb picnic roast and doubled the rest of the ingredients)
rind of 1 orange, grated finely
1½ tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons ancho chile powder (or chipotle chile powder – for a spicier finish)
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup apple cider
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup water
You will also need:
½ red onion, thinly sliced
6 seeded bread rolls
Sweet-and-Sour Coleslaw (see recipe below)
Lay the pork butt skin side up on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin off the pork butt through the fatty layer dividing the skin and the meat. Set the skin aside.
In a small bowl, combine the orange peel, black pepper, ancho chile powder, sweet paprika, hot paprika, kosher salt and sugar. Rub this mixture liberally on the pork, using your fingers to push the seasonings into all the crevices and indentations by the bone. Replace the pork skin on the meat and season it as well. Cover the meat and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
To slow-roast: Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the pork butt in a heavy roaster which is just big enough to fit the roast. You want the roast to fit snugly in the roaster so that the moisture is not dispersed too much. Cover roaster with the lid and place in the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 225ºF and allow the meat to roast for about 5-7 hours. You can even do this overnight.
During the last hour of roasting, remove the lid and allow the pork skin to crisp. Remove from the oven and test for doneness: prick the meat with a fork and twist the fork. If the meat falls apart, it is done! Allow the meat to cool for a little while and then pull it apart, removing any fatty parts that have not melted away.
Towards serving time, combine all the sauce ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until it is slightly thickened. Carefully add the pulled pork pieces to the sauce and stir together to coat the meat.
To assemble the sandwich: Cut the bread rolls open and remove some of the soft bread inside (this will provide a nice ‘nest’ for the meat). Toast the rolls. Scoop a generous amount of pork on one toasted half of a roll, top with sliced onions, Sweet-and-Sour Coleslaw, and top with the other half of the roll. You can also serve the coleslaw on the side, if you prefer.
½ to ¾ head of red or green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine sliced cabbage, bell pepper and carrots in a large bowl. To make the dressing, combine the sugar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Gradually whisk in vinegar and olive oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 1 minute. Cool for about 5 minutes and then pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture. Refrigerate until ready to be served.