If I could change geography, I would. No offense to Kennebunkport and Kittery and southern New Hampshire and the whole south shore, but I would squish them inland, or maybe shift them south. Then, I'd build a short bridge—I'm thinking five miles or so—from our house in Wellfleet to my sister's doorstep in Portland, Maine. My parents would only be a half hour's drive north, and we could all get together and cook and eat and sit around on Sundays. It would be just like last Sunday, when my sister and I both made pulled pork, except we could make it in the same pot, do half the dishes, and have twice the fun. It would be great.
Speaking of great, I should say a few things about the pulled pork. First off, I'd like to thank Martha—you know, the Martha—for making it all so easy. I have to admit that before I found her recipe I was sort of intimated by pulled pork, and when you routinely have half a pig in your freezer, that is not a good way to be. I was under the impression that you needed a crock pot, or possibly even a fire pit, but Martha straightened me out. She showed me that you can make excellent pulled pork with very few ingredients in your very own oven in less than three hours, and that it will be so good that even your husband will declare it "North Carolina Tasty."
It's easy. All you need is some pork shoulder (also known as pork butt)—we used two pork butt steaks with the bones still in—a bit of brown sugar, some cayenne pepper, minced garlic, and a few cups of apple cider vinegar. Seriously, that's it. Oh, and an oven. I also added homemade coleslaw and some Portuguese rolls, but that was for sandwiches. All in all, it made for an excellent experience.
Now we'll just have to wait for the next pig, and a new shoulder to experiment with. And maybe, just maybe, one day we'll build that bridge.
This is an excellent way to use pork shoulder—whether you have it as one big hunk or it's divided into steaks. Martha calls for boneless shoulder, but I don't think it really matters. We left the bones in and ours came out excellent.
When it comes time to toss the cooked meat with the pan juices, don't be afraid of adding the fat back in—if the meat is from a pastured animal, this is where you'll not only get your flavor but also a lot of top notch nutrients.
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into four pieces
1 and 1/2 cups cider vinegar, plus extra for serving
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water
for sandwiches: add 8 sandwich rolls & homemade coleslaw (I like shredded cabbage and grated carrots with roughly this dressing)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
Place the meat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and rub it with the spice mixture.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, and water and pour this mixture over the pork. Cover the pot, put it in the oven, and bake for about 2 and 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and separates easily when pulled with a fork.
Transfer the pork to a cutting board, saving the juice in the pan. Use two forks to shred the meat, put the meat in a large bowl, and toss it with the reserved juice. (You may not need all of it; we used about two thirds). At this point, if you like your pork a little tangier, add a few extra tablespoons cider vinegar.
If you're making sandwiches, pile the rolls with equal portions pork and coleslaw, and serve at once.