August 17, 2014
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Steamed Local Sweet Corn
Smoky Pulled Pork on a Gas Grill from Cook's Illustrated
While touring culinary schools in New England with Caleb, I had my first pulled pork sandwich. We visited several institutions (Caleb would attend the Culinary Institute of America), among them the New England Culinary Institute (NECI). We ate lunch at their restaurant, NECI Commons, in Burlington, Vermont; like all of NECI's restaurants it is staffed by students. I had my first pulled pork sandwich and loved it. Almost every summer since I've smoked a pork shoulder on our gas grill so I could enjoy these sandwiches again. Some of my favorite food comes from long, slow cooking of tough cuts of meat, like pork shoulder and beef brisket. Fortunately the cooked meat freezes well as a five pound pork shoulder goes a long way.
The July/August 2014 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine presents a new technique for making pulled pork specifically developed for a gas grill. It introduces several new tricks to help impart good smoky flavor to the meat to match or exceed what you get using a charcoal grill for smoking. These include increasing the surface area of the meat by cutting the roast into thirds, adding humidity by placing a pan of water in the grill, placing the meat on the grill while still cold, saving the smoky juices to use in the sauce, and careful construction of the wood chip packets containing. The meat is seasoned overnight with a simple rub containing salt, pepper, brown sugar, and paprika. I used smoked paprika because that is what we had. Smoking and cooking the pork took a full afternoon to achieve the desired tender, smoky meat that makes these sandwiches great.
The side dishes were all easy to prepare. I visited a farm stand to get local, fresh sweet corn which has been very good this summer; it was steamed in our microwave, our usual preparation method. Diane made potato salad; I enjoyed eating it but can't say much about how it was prepared. We each had a different beverage. Diane had Vella Merlot, I had a nice beer from New Zealand--Tuatara Pilsner with its lizard-scaled bottle, and Caryn had Dead Guy Ale from Rogue Ales in Oregon. We served the pork on some store-bought rolls that have spent a little too much time in the freezer so we need to use them up sooner rather than later.
Everyone enjoyed this meal. The pork was juicy, tender, and flavorful with a nicely seasoned bark providing some extra texture and flavor. The vinegar sauce did not adhere well to the meat and so it was not very prominent in the sandwiches. I'll try adding some additional at the table when we have these as leftovers. It was a simple, satisfying, summer supper.