Simplest ever pulled pork with crackling, plus a great recipe for apple slaw
Pulled pork: it's the food trend from America that just won't quit. There's something about meltingly tender meat, tangy hot sauce and pillowy buns that we just can't get enough of, and the fairly universally hailed champion of the craft on our shores has to be Pitt Cue Co, a place that has had more than its fair share of my disposable income since it first opened in Soho back in 2012.
Knowing this, my better half was delighted to present me with Pitt Cue Co: The Cookbook as a Christmas gift, in which there are no fewer than four different recipes for pulled pork, not one of which has less than 25 ingredients. As lovely a book as it is, its recipes have stayed resolutely unused – and I don't think I'm alone in this. In all likelihood you don't have £40 to blow on a recipe you've never tried before (and that's just the cost of the pork), or a week to spend brining, smoking and slow-cooking, no matter how good the end result. Leave that to the pros.
Ease yourself into 'cue' as the Texans call it with this rather simpler method. Thanks to the low and slow cooking, it will still give you ultra-tender pork that pulls apart if you so much as look at it hard, plus the bonus of some lovely crunchy crackling, all the better for pairing with a mound of tart, crisp apple slaw.
Super-simple pulled pork
To feed 6
Take a medium-sized boneless pork shoulder joint, about 1.2-1.5kg in weight and pat it dry with kitchen paper. If your pork skin isn't already scored, use a small sharp knife to score it at 1cm intervals. Make a dry spice rub – you can use any flavours you like, but follow the rule of thumb 6:3:1 (6 tsp brown sugar, 3 tsp spice, 1 tsp salt). Massage your spice rub generously all over the meat but – and this is important – don't put too much on the skin, as it'll just burn and ruin your crackling.
Preheat the oven as hot as it will go. Line a roasting tin with a large sheet of foil, big enough to make a parcel for the pork later. Place the pork in the foil-lined tin and put in the oven for 30 minutes to brown, then remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150°C, fan 130°C, gas 2. Fold the foil up around the pork and scrunch it together at the edges to make a sealed parcel. Return to the oven for 4½-5 hours or until it's so tender you can break it apart with a spoon.
Unwrap the pork and carefully pour off all the juices into a serving dish. Sprinkle a little extra salt over the pork skin, turn the oven up as high as it will go again and return the pork, uncovered, to the oven for 5-10 minutes, to crisp the crackling.
Remove from the oven and leave to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes, then remove the crackling with a sharp knife and shred the pork with two forks. Toss the meat with the reserved juices and serve while still warm, with the apple slaw (below).
Serves 6 as a side dish
Remove the outer leaves and core from half a hispi (sweetheart) cabbage. Finely shred the cabbage, 1 carrot and 3 spring onions and put in a large bowl. Finely slice 2 green apples into thin batons (discarding the core) and toss with the juice of 1 lemon. Whisk 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard and 6 tbsp mayonnaise together with 1 tbsp water, a big pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add the apples (and any juice) and mayonnaise mixture to the large bowl and toss well to combine. Cover and keep in the fridge until needed.