Game Day Pork

IMG_7160The Cute Gardener calls me a pork whore and it’s a moniker well deserved because I am the kind of girl who dreams about pork belly on a regular basis. Nary a menu passes my eye with a pig terrine, pate, and bowl of crispy pig ears, sheath of prosciutto and jambon or savory and juicy pulled pork bits without escaping my ravenous order. I prefer the funky parts, the exotic applications, the gourmet mousses, the barbecued tail and the knobby knuckles with caramelized between bits over the tenderloins and more prime priced roasts. There’s just something wicked about the pockets of flavor found all over the beast of my favorite meat.

One of my favorite things to make is a slow roasted pork shoulder. Over the years this has provided tender shredded meat for tacos, sandwiches, burritos, salads, and more. It’s absolutely special to cook this cut for hours and watch the science happen at the 100 minute mark when the fat and tendons break down completely, letting go of the glue that holds the meat together, and it becomes a luscious pile of shredded pork that falls apart with the gentle tug of a fork.

This kind of dish is perfect for college football Saturdays when we don’t want to muck up the kitchen with lots of dishes but want something savory to enjoy between marathons hours of sports watching. Recently, we enjoyed pork sandwiches au jus that went perfect with yelling at the television for our teams to score a touchdown.

For this, I used Josette Batteault’s recipe from Food and Wine. Batteault and her husband are renowned for their charcuterie shop that specializes in all things pig so I figured it was a credible version to try. Once the pork was finished like clockwork at the two-hour mark, we shredded it onto toasted French rolls with melted provolone cheese, along with the juice from the pan, pickled cabbage and fresh arugula. The only addition I would make in the future, would be to add a few more onions and tomatoes in the beginning to secure more juice at the end for pouring over thick sandwich bread, lending more sogginess and textural differentiation to the overall bite.

The only accompaniment, which was a perfect companion to this dish, were a few quick and easy roasted apples. To make, I cut up two apples and baked them in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes tossed with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of sugar.

We also had pork leftovers that finagled their way into pursuant pastas and stir-fries.

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