This was made way back in February 2015 but I'm only posting it now. Better late than never right!
For a number of weeks now, my son has been asking if I could make Pulled Pork. We had tried the pulled pork burger in a kids meal when we had taken my inlaws out for dinner almost a year ago at Morgansfields. So over the weekend, I decided I would make some pulled pork!
At first I thought of just making my usual Pork Roast as the meat is so tender that I always serve it 'pulled' anyway. However, I thought I'd take the route of making a real pulled pork where the meat is served in a bowl - pulled away and ready to eat. Also, I figured I would slow cook the meat, kind of like braising it, so that it would absorb the juices and make it more tasty and flavourful.
While looking for inspiration on the web, I came across Carnitas - which basically means "little meats," and is a dish of Mexican origin. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or lard until tender. That caught my eye and I decided to combine a few recipes to make pulled pork simmered in beer and orange juice and also chillis for a bit of spice. So a variation of Carnitas it was.
Then came the decision of what to serve the pulled pork with. Fist thing that popped to my mind was a pulled pork burger. Then I thought of Cubanos! You see, A few weeks ago, we sat down as a family and watched Chef - the movie where a chef leaves his restaurant and starts up a food truck selling Cubanos. The kids seemed to think the Cubanos looked really good and I thought that was the end of it.
However, a recent trip to Fridays triggered their memory of Cubanos as it was on the menu. I mentioned that it didnt look very good though and thats when my little princess asked if I could maybe make it one day.
So with that request in mind, I decided I would make Cubanos.
So on Saturday, my little princess followed me to drop Michael off at band practice. Then we popped into the supermarket at Bangsar Village to get some pork shoulder - without the skin, together with lettuce and nice ripe tomatoes. My princess asked why I was getting Tomatoes and Lettuce and I explained they were for the Cubanos. "But Cubanos dont have lettuce and tomatoes Dads." She remarked. "So you're not really making Cubanos then...."
I told her that a real Cubano also used Pork Roast rather than pulled pork and since she said she didnt want cheese in the sandwhich it wasn't going to be a real Cubano anyway. "And anyway, when did you become such an expert on Cubanos?" I asked her. "Especially when neither of us have had one before."
"Lets watch Chef again then and see what they put in." Was her cheeky reply.
On the way home, we stopped at our favourite bakery, Aroma, to stock up on bread. It was still early and they didnt have the Ciabatta ready yet so I placed an order for 4 loaves of Ciabatta and one loaf of Rustical. Later in the afternoon after picking Mike up from Band practice we returned to Aroma. As we were getting out of the car, Mike asked what I was making and I replied Pulled Pork Burgers. His eyes lit up and then he frowned a little.
"Are you using hamburger buns?" He asked.
"No, I've ordered some Ciabatta and Rustical."
"Oh! Then its a Cubano!" He said excitedly.
"Not according to your sister." I grumbled. "She says that Cubano's dont have lettuce or tomatoes. And there needs to be cheese, but she doesnt want cheese"
"I suppose she's right, but I dont want cheese either." He said, then turning to his sister, he chided her. "Sarah! Let Daddy call them Cubanos if he wants."
A mini 'fight' then ensued between brother and sister as to what really constituted a Cubano. I sighed and walked along with them to the bakery, listening to them arguing - over what to call a sandwhich.
Beer and Citrus Pulled Pork
600g pork shoulder or pork butt
1/2 can beer
2 oranges - juice
3 dried red chillies - cut into 3
1 large onion, cubed
6 garlic cloves - skinned
1 tsp oregano
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
For the sandwhiches
tomatoes - sliced
Coral Green Lettuce
2 parts tomato sauce
1 part Dijon Mustard
1 part Yellow Mustard
Cut pork into large chunks and season with pepper. Preheat olive oil in an oven proof heavy skillet or a Dutch oven. Sautee chillies and oregano and the add in onions and continue to cook till soft. Add in bay leave and then lightly brown pork chunks a few min on each side. Add in the beer and orange juice and season with salt. Bring to the boild and then transfer to a 180C oven. Allow to cook for at least two hours or till pork is fork tender. Remove pork from the pot and pull it into small pieces. Meanwhile, reduce the cooking liquid to about 1/2 cups Return pulled pork to pan and allow to cook for another 4-5 minutes or till almost dried but still a little moist.
Once the pork was cooked, I couldnt wait to taste it. The meat was moist and tender and full of flavour. There was a slight 'heat' to it from the chillis but maybe next time I should add a few more chillis and maybe some extra garlic too for more bite. The citrus and beer combination was nice although maybe in retrospect it may have been even better with using Stout for a thicker, darker flavour - or maybe even some coke for some sweetness and caramelisation! Thinking about it, the possibilites are practically endless. You could cook it in barbecue sauce as well for a whole different taste. I think the key in slow cooking the meat means you get a really soft, tender and flavourful pulled pork.
To assemble the Cubanos, I first sliced the Ciabatta lengthwise. Then I made a sauce out of tomato sauce, dijon mustard and yellow mustard all mixed together. This was slathered generously on the lower slice of bread. Then a generous amount of pulled pork was placed on top of the sauce and covered with tomato slices and Coral Green lettuce. The top half of the Ciabbata was placed on top and then the sandwich was lightly toasted on a hot gridle. I used the cover of a saucepan to press the bread down on the gridle and my son was quite impressed with my innovativeness!
As the 'Cubano' was quite long, I cut it in two and served it. Ahh, there was silence all around as everyone bit into the Cubanos then my son and daughter both piped up "Nice Dads! Really nice!"
The Lovely Wife liked the sauce combination and she also liked how flavourful the pork was but mostly how tender it was!
My son had also asked if I could make some apple sauce and he spread some of the apple sauce on his second serving. He also proceeded to eat some of the carnitas/pulled pork with the applesauce.
Both my son and daughter had two serves each and proclaimed that they really, really liked it. My daughter went so far as to venture that maybe, just maybe, these so called Cubanos were better than my Souvlaki. And that is saying a lot!