Saturday, September 24, 2011

my arms hurt. so naturally i'll cook a shoulder.

good, glorious afternoon my spicy dumplings. (don't inquire. i just felt like you might be dumplings tonight.) do you know why i'm excited? well i'll tell you: i'm no longer stuck living as a phone solicitor (hoorah!), i have new dish towels in distinctly autumnal colors, and most awesomely of all, i'm not playing hostess to heat and humidity anymore. that's right, i done kicked those jerks to the curb. ousted! banished! ...okay fine so perhaps mother nature and an unseasonably cool streak thanks to hurricane leftovers did it for me, but i don't really care. it's legally autumn, the air is crisp and decidedly less soggy, and i no longer have to write this basking in the wheezing chug of the window AC unit. hoorah!
eeee! autumn! autumn in towel form!

so as it stands, i am now wiling away my days in a pet store which sells no actual pets but does pride itself upon providing plenty of organic, wholesome, natural dog and cat food. it's a pretty sweet gig, i enjoy it so far, and i can't complain that in this sheisty, grapple-if-you-can economy i've managed to snag a job where i get to play with puppies all day when folks bring them in to get fitted for a collar or try a new treat. (hint: dogs love freeze-dried livers. you heard it here first. or not. whichever. shut up.)

anyhoo, one of the caveats of providing exceptional customer service when one wishes to switch their dog or cat to a grain-free diet and then outfit their housy habitat with better beds, maybe natural clay litter or possibly a drinking fountain to recycle the microbetacular water is the ability to lift. and i mean, like, a lot. like, stacks of 35-pound bags of dog food that stretch eight feet tall lurking in the back of the store just waiting for stocking and restacking and buckets of bulk litter that say they weigh 40 pounds but honestly pull on my every sinew like lugging one of nibbler's anti-matter poo piles. i am basically gaining more muscle than my plus-size frame is comfortable with, and i still have yet to master that whole 'lift with the knees' thing to a point wherein i'm not falling over like a scuttling crab in tap shoes when i try to replenish the shelves.

point being: after a month and a half-ish of carrying dog and cat food across the parking lot to many a waiting minivan, my arms and shoulders and back and lower back and all the things that involve muscle, bone, or general nerve endings are sore. i love dogs and cats, truly i do- but lately i've been having a torrid love affair with bed and a bottle of ibuprofen to the point where i think the pilot is a bit disconcerted with my unwillingness to get out of bed. so naturally, to make myself feel better on a blessed day off, i spent it in the kitchen making pulled pork because goshbedangit if there's one thing i love more than loafing, it's spicy sauce on delicious meat. plus it seemed kind of randomly cathartic to slow-cook a shoulder and know it wasn't mine. and seeing as it's now cool out and i can turn on my oven without fear of melting like so many wicked witches and/or dumbasses who open temples of doom, as a bonus i made this with no slow cooker. mostly this is so that those of us out there without crock pots can have delightful cool weather noms too. and so without further ado:

pulled pork sammiches with habanero-pineapple barbeque sauce

for the pig:
one bone-in pork shoulder roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup broth (i use beef, but, to each his or her own)
3 cloves of garlic, cut into large slivers
hot sauce of your choosing
1 tsp each salt, pepper, chili powder
1 heavy pot, all-clad or simliar- or a crock pot if you're so lucky. if you lack either, use a regular roasting pan with some aluminum foil to cover it. if you lack all of those, then you'll probably just have to go buy your pulled pork cause really, i can only do so much!

alright. this is so easy, it's ridiculous. seriously. first, preheat your oven to 300 degrees and heat your pot on medium-high and add the olive oil. while that's all heating up, mix together the salt, pepper, and chili powder. you can use crushed red pepper or cayenne if you want, it doesn't really matter. point is, mix it together and then rub it over all sides of the pork shoulder. make like it needs a massage (i am writing this on pain killers after all) and rub it allll in the muscle so it gets teh flavors. then simply add it to the pot and braise it on all sides. use a heavy meat fork or thongs to turn it over and make sure all the sides are braised- it should take less than ten minutes overall.
mmmm...stabby pig shoulder.

remove the pot from heat and transfer the pork to a cutting board. now, if you have any aggression or wish you could get jabby with your neighbors or that jerk who shoved you on the street or your bank or the fact that professional athletes make more than anybody reading this ever will, take your trustiest kitchen knife and stab a good dozen or more holes in the pork. make sure they're deep holes, and then into each one stuff one or two of your slivered garlic. add the broth to the pot, put the pork back in it, and top it with a healthy splash of whatever hot sauce you wish. (i used frank's red hot and a little bit of red hot buffalo.) put the top on your pot and put it in the oven. now while that's starting to do its thing, go ahead and corral your ingredients for the barbeque sauce, because i promise it's even more delicious if you let it chill in the fridge for a couple hours.

for the habanero-pineapple barbeque that will kick your ass while stealing your stomach's heart:

there's no beer in this's just there
cause i'm a classy lady in the kitchen.
-2 tablespoons of butter
-a smallish to medium onion, or half a large one, finely chopped
-a cup of smushed pineapple with the juice
-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-2 tablespoons white vinegar
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-1 cup chili sauce (i prefer rooster sauce, but use what you want, obviously)
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-2 1/2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
-3 tablespoons lemon juice
-1 to 2 tablespoons mustard
-1/4 cup ketchup
-1 wee but powerful habanero pepper, chopped and seeded
-pepper and hot sauce to taste

pineapple makes everything better! except syphillis.
so it's like this: on medium heat, melt the butter and sautee the onion until it's translucent- ya know, like most recipes start. then add the garlic and the pineapple, and stir that goodness together. then add your chili sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar. cook until the brown sugar is melted and fully incorporated, and then mix in the worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and the ketchup and mustard. stir in the chopped habanero, and cook it together for a few minutes to make sure it's all incorporated. go ahead and taste it, and then adjust the seasonings to your liking- add however much pepper and hot sauce your little heart desires, and then bring that bad boy up to a boil.

warning: this *will* be spicy. and not, like, 'i'm wearing a
naughty nurse outfit' spicy, i mean possibly singeing your
tastebuds bc it is not fucking around spicy. mmmm :D
follow suit by promptly taking said bad boy off a boil and reducing it to a simmer instead. cook it on low, stirring every now and again, for about a half an hour. after it's good and cooked together, go ahead and either put it in a container for storage in the fridge bc if you give the flavors a couple hours to mingle it'll be even better, or if you're lazy and lack appropriate storage containers like myself, just let the pot cool enough on a back burner before transferring to the fridge.

now that you've got your barbeque sauce taken care of, i highly recommend immediately washing all the equipment you handled the habaneros on, including the cutting board, knife, and any bowls or plates it may have come into contact with- and for the love of all that is holy or not, wash your own damn hands because you really, *really* don't want to have to suddenly find out you wipe your eye too much by way of the burning of corneas. also? that was a really long sentence and for that i apologize. but only because it's national punctuation day and as an english major working in a field that has absolutely nothing to do with my degree, i care about the treatment of our language, even if i am living with a pilot who insists that 'alot' is a viable word. *headdesk*

pork pull: phase one.

pork pull: phase two. (...okay that sounds vaguely dirty.)

ooookay. so now it's probably been about an hour or so, and it's time to check on your pork. hasn't it been smelling lovely? if not, i'm sorry you don't have a nose, but how could i know? it's the internet, not a video phone. go ahead and lift the pot out of the oven (USE POTHOLDERS, OH MY LORD, PLEASE TAKE HEED) and check on the pulliness of the meat. it should look a little something like this picture on the right. it ought to be easy to pull from the whole, but not completely stringey and separated. go ahead and ladle a bit of the broth over top and add more hot sauce if you want, and put it back in the oven for another hour and a half to two hours. after that, a test piece should pull really easily from the rest of the pork, and it should be completely cooked through. you can cook it for longer if you're worried about dying from improperly cooked pig, but after 3 hours at 300 degrees, your shoulder should be thoroughly cooked and delicious. go ahead and pull the bone out of the shoulder (it should slide out really easily) and then take two forks and pull that shoulder into sammich materials like so:

make sure you pull it as much as can be, and try to take down any larger chunks. go ahead and just tear and pull with the forks; the garlic that was cooked with it should be completely smushable and mixed in with the meat, and i like to incorporate the broth it's been cooking in with the meat so it's extra juicy and all that. let it sit to the side for a bit so it cools down, and while that's going on and the barbeque sauce is still chilling in the fridge, go ahead and whip up some mashed potatoes. (i prefer skin-still-on smashed with sandwiches. i have no idea why.)

toast some buns, and then just heap some meat and barbeque sauce on top and you've got a derlicious meal fit for watching a football game and making sure you get really messy. ommmmm nom nom nom. and apologies ahead of time for how spicy this is, but really, it's got habaneros in it. can't say you weren't warned. and now without further ado, i'm going to go and loaf some more because the painkillers are re-kicking in and there's futurama to watch. coming soon: something new. hopefully.

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