A while ago, I wrote extolling the virtues of my Schlemmertopf clay pot.
Sadly, a few months ago my $3 purchase cracked and fell apart when I put it on a surface that wasn’t quite insulated enough. Conflict between screamingly hot Schlemmertopf and room temperature metal trivet = catastrophic breakage. I’ve learned my lesson: the clay pot and its lid should always be put down on a thick layer of folded towel/oven mitt/pot holder. Having experienced the joys of clay pot cooking, I wasn’t prepared to do without one, so eBay to the rescue, and I’m now the proud owner of a Römertopf, the gold standard of clay pots. It’s much the same creature, except that it has the virtue of a glazed interior in the lower half so is much easier to clean, and it doesn’t retain odours so much as liquid from the inside doesn’t seep into the clay.
Well. We had the family coming round on Saturday night. What to feed them? I’d seen a Food Channel program on various US Southern-style barbecue dishes which didn’t actually involve a barbecue. It was all about flavour: rubs, sauces, long slow cooking. I wondered if some of the long and slow bit could be reduced by using the Römertopf.
That’ll be a yes… Result: tender, juicy, tasty pulled pork in 2 hours rather than 4. I did a Memphis-style version, using a dry rub rather than coating the meat with a wet marinade. On the side I served a home made barbecue sauce which, incidentally, is da bidness with ham, chicken, cheese, sausage…. well, you get the idea.
Memphis-style pulled pork:
1 x 2kg (4½ pound) boned pork shoulder with all the fat and skin
¼ cup smoked sweet paprika
2 tblsp packed dark brown sugar
salt & pepper, good grind of each
½ – 1 tsp finely chopped red chilli, to taste
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
Mix all these ingredients together. Take your boned pork shoulder, and fillet off the skin, reserving it for later. Score the remaining fat, then rub the meat all over with the seasoning mix. Put in a dish, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. 2½ hours before you serve, soak your Römertopf in cold water for half an hour, and remove the meat from the fridge. Place the meat in the soaked clay pot, fat side up. Put it in a cold oven, then set at Gas 6/200°C/400°F for 2 hours. Remove from the oven, shred with 2 forks and leave to absorb the juices while you prepare the rest of the meal. Serves 6, with leftovers if they’re not too greedy.
I scored, oiled and salted the skin and roasted it in the oven on a rack, over a tray of white and sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot. The rendering fat basted the vegies and the crackling was thin, blistered and mega-crispy. Oh man…
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp smooth French mustard
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
salt & pepper
½ – 1 red chilli, finely diced, to taste
½ small brown onion, finely diced
1 tblsp pomegranate molasses*
knob of butter
Sauté the onion and chilli in the butter. Add the sugar and tomato sauce, the mustard, paprika, salt and pepper and blend together with a wooden spoon. Add the apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses and stir in. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then place in the goblet of a stick blender and blend on full power till smooth. If the mix is too thick, you could add a teaspoon of water or sherry to slacken it. You want a consistency that will stick to the spoon and need to be shaken off, rather than a runny sauce. Serve on the side with the pork. It will keep for a good while in the fridge in a jar, due to the amount of sugar and vinegar in the mixture, which act as natural preservatives. But I can tell mine isn’t going to last, judging by how lavishly it’s getting used on just about every meat and sandwich right now…
*You could leave this out if you don’t have any, but it adds a tremendous tangy sweetness. Worth hunting out for all sorts of uses.
Anyway, the meal was enthusiastically consumed, and best of all, I still have leftovers of both the sauce and the pulled pork. You could do it the long way, in a roasting pan with the meat tightly covered with foil, roasted long and low. That’d be just as tasty.
It’s just that I prefer a slightly more instant gratification…