Thursday, June 24, 2010

southern pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw

I love food's ability to build connections and establish moments.  One of my favorite things is asking people to describe their favorite meal. It is the most fun to see a person's eyes shine and watch how with animated gestures they describe their comfort dish -perfect bite- food memory.

In college, a friend from Missouri described this sandwich- tender shredded pork, swimming in a vinegary slightly sweet sauce and piled on a soft roll. I did not grow up with this kind of food and am not much of a meat eater, but her description of this sandwich made me crave it too.

I think this is a perfect summer meal with coleslaw and chips. Nothing too fussy, no pretention, just honest good food. The kind of food I like to serve friends.

Also, this is probably the only coleslaw I would serve friends. I may have coleslaw trauma from childhood (why pineapple? why raisins? and why leaving it in a car for four hours before the potluck?). This salad is straightforward- crisp cabbage, shredded carrot, vinegar spiked mayonaise dressing. It is a nice accompaniment to the pulled pork sandwich and is heaven when piled on top.

The pulled pork recipe is from Everyday Food magazine and the coleslaw is The Barefoot Contessa. 

Southern Pulled Pork Sandwich

1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
coarse salt and ground pepper
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 4 equal pieces
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 soft sandwich rolls, split
Store-bought barbeque sauce for serving (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in lower and upper positions. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. (I actually do not think I put that much salt in. If you are more comfortable with less than a tablespoon, feel free to reduce the amount as well.)

2) Place pork in a 5 quart dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot; rub with spice mixture.

3) In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, garlic, and 1/2 cup water; pour over pork. Cover pot, and place in oven on lower rack. Bake until pork is very tender and separates easily when pulled with a fork, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

4) Moisten shredded pork with the pan juices. When serving, may I recommend potato bread rolls? Their texture seems just right. Also, a varied selection of barbecue sauces along side for topping the sandwiches is fun.

Vegetable Coleslaw

1 pound white cabbage (1/2 small head)
3/4 pound red cabbage (1/2 small head)
5 carrots
2 cups good mayonaise
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

(The Barefoot Contessa recipe calls for shredding the vegetables in a food processor. As always, I include the original recipe instructions below. However, if you do not have a large food processor, please feel free to do what I do: finely slice the cabbage by knife and then shred the carrots on the large holes of a box grater.)

1) Fit a food processor with the thickest slicing blade. Cut the cabbages into small wedges and place horizontally into the feed tube. Process in batches. Next, fit the food processor with the grating blade. Cut the carrots in half and place in the feed tube so they are lying on their sides. Process in batches and mix in a bowl with the grated cabbages.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, celery seeds, celery salt, salt and pepper.

3) Pour enough of the dressing over the grated vegetables to moisten them. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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