Let’s try this again, shall we?
And…..just a warning…..this is more of a recipe within a story than just a recipe. Enjoy!
Ok….so, there is something about some good pig, cooked low and slow, that just makes my mouth water. And….yes, I know what you are thinking….you are thinking, if it is THAT good, it must be complicated, but you are wrong. Wrong, I tell ya!
There is so much beauty in this dish, it is hard to know where to start! Do I start by telling you this is a dish that can cook while you sleep? Do I begin by telling you that there ain’t a soul in your house that won’t chow down on this for as many nights as there are leftovers (which won’t be many!) or Do I let you know just how versatile this dish is and how many different things can be made with this melt in your mouth, most irresistible, Big ‘O’, DELICIOUS piece o’ pig??? And I could go on and on… How ’bout I start with telling you what you need!
- 1 meaty pork shoulder….I prefer bone in (more flava, I think), but I am not opposed to a nice boneless piece o’ pork either.
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Vinegar (optional) and any type will do….malt, apple cider…whateva!
Vinegar? you say! Yep! Vinegar. Again, it isn’t necessary, but….well, when your second home is North Carolina and you have grown up on the sinfully delicious southern bbq like I have, vinegar gives it the beginning of that ‘kick’ that I end up finishing it off with.
Oh….I’m going to have to digress from the recipe for a minute, and with southern hospitality, educate some of my most precious and dear Midwest friends that don’t have a clue what on earth I am talking about. I have seen it happen many times. I say I am having “barbecue” for dinner and they say “barbecued what?”. Barbecue, just….barbecue! You see, in the south, that ooohhh so good melt in your mouth pulled pork is considered “barbecue” and is finished off with a delicious vinegar based sauce. No ketchup or catsup in that! And, actually, to be a bit more accurate, I should point out that the southern states all have their own twist, but if I have to be honest…….well, North Carolina’s barbecue rocks the house! Ok….sorry…now, on with the recipe!
Simple, simple, simple! Simple food most often always = good food.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. That is not a mistake. 200!
Give that shoulder a good rinse (I rinse all my meat) (***get your mind out of the gutter!!***) and make sure you pat it with paper towels until nice and dry. Set it in the pan you will be cooking it in. I love to use my stoneware dish that has a domed stoneware top. You can use a dutch oven or any covered dish that will a) fit the shoulder and b) go in the oven.
Sprinkle salt all over the top, followed by pepper, then garlic powder and finally the chili powder. NO SKIMPING on the chili powder. I want that pig to look like it has been preserved with chili powder. I want it to look that beautiful shade of red that only chili powder can give you (well….there are other amazing spices, but….. ; )). Anyway, no skimping. You want to give that shoulder a nice spice rub down. Once the top is coated, flip it over and repeat on the other side. Then flip back over again so the fattier part of the shoulder is facing up. There shouldn’t be too much fat, but you need a little. If there seems to be too much fat, cut some off BEFORE seasoning it.
Now…..drizzle the vinegar over the top of the meat. How much??? Ugh, I don’t know! Just go for it. I would guesstimate, 1/2 cup??? Sheesh…you are asking me to measure? No need to add any additional liquid….even if you opt out of using the vinegar, the meat itself will produce scrumptious juices.
Ok, put the lid on and you are ready to pop that baby in the oven at 200 and let ‘er cook! I highly recommend you put it in before going to bed at night and it will be ready for you the next day making it a delicious lunch and much more for dinner. I like to let it cook for at least 10 hours. If you are like me though and completely forget to do it before bed (****again, avoid the gutter!***), you can, without sacrificing any flava, do it in the morning ; ), pop it in….eh, 10ish at 250 degrees, until dinner time. I crank the heat up to 350 degrees for the last 45 minutes or so.
Ok….sorry…see…..here is my problem. I don’t measure my ingredients and I don’t have a specific time to cook for. I just love to smell my food and watch it. That is how I read if it is ready….I suppose that is why some people might see my recipes as being complicated…..because they are not always specific enough, which I DO understand can be a challenge for “non” cooks. Sorry!!! I’m doing my best, but you have to trust me, and more importantly, trust yourself, that if you are using great ingredients, you can’t go wrong (whether you use a little too much or a little too little). Well, salt may be overused sometimes….ok…that is another story. DIGRESSION. Eeek. Those happen way too often!
Ok….so, once that shoulder has been cooking low and slow for a nice chunk of time, you are done!!! Dats right! Done! Take the meat out and shred it with a couple of forks. Now….there are SO many things you can do with this. I mean, really! The list is endless, but let me share with you my favorites….
- Serve it topped with that southern vinegar based bbq sauce I mentioned. (recipe to follow) On a bun or off, delish! Get yourself a side of coleslaw (I should post that recipe too!) and some oven sweet potato fries (yet another UBER easy recipe!).
- Serve it with your favorite ketchup based bbq sauce….my favorite, if it is not homemade, is Sweet Baby Ray’s. Yummy! Some delicious oven fries and some sort of veggie….must have a veggie or fruit….hey, how ’bout a slice of watermelon!
- Serve it Mexican style! You can’t go wrong with shredded pork that can be seasoned up with your own taco seasoning mix or the $1 taco seasoning packets and topped with all the glorious and wonderful fixin’s….sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, and don’t, DON’T forget the guac! Tacos, burritos, tostadas…oh my!
Ok….I could go on with more ideas, but I’d love to hear yours! Take some time to make this pork and let me know what YOU do with it.
I think I now have many recipe ideas floating around in my noggin that I will need to post about. And…..I promise they won’t all be so lengthy in my crazy verbiage