I am absolutely nuts for pulled pork, but I don’t cook it that often. Mostly this is because the way I do it makes it one of the most impractical things to cook. Not because it’s difficult to do, but more because it’s logistically ridiculous. My method requires:
- About five kilos of pork
- About 18 hours of cooking
- Dragging the barbecue out of the shed
- Topping up a wood burning fire every 30 minutes
- Enduring the inevitable rain that is magnetically attracted to barbecues
- Picking about 4kg of pork off the bones and shredding it by hand
- Mixing in a vat of bbq sauce (which needs making as well)
- Half a fridge shelf to store it
And then, since I’ve got a hell of a lot of meat and live on my own:
- A commitment to eat nothing but pulled pork for a week.
So, there are a few sensible reasons to make this more of an occasional treat rather than a regular thing. And then there’s the issue of the chorizo madness.
In 2011, I was working at probably the most profitable four-and-a-half square metres of the whole of Borough Market: the barbecue chorizo sandwich stall at Brindisa. And while I loved working in the food mecca of the world’s greatest city, I did not always love working on my own all day for three out of five days of the week. Between the solitude and the monotony of cutting 86,000 odd pieces of chorizo, I may have gone a little bit nuts. I won’t give you all the gory details, but just as an example: once during prep someone asked me for the time and rather than look at my watch I just counted how many boxes of chorizo I had cut (4 1/2 boxes at 9 minutes per box) and correctly told him it was 4:42pm. I was diagnosed by my coworkers with chorizo madness – a disorder caused by working on the barbecue stand too long – shortly after this event.
As you can see, spending a lot of time on my own with a vast amount of spicy, barbecue-cooked pork has not always been a positive thing for my sanity.
The chorizo stand was also where my love of barbecue started. One of the things I did to distract myself was slow cook joints of meat next to the coals. There’s something insanely great about the smokey flavours that infuse over the long cooking time.
Smoking, for me, is the real barbecue technique. Grilling is fine, but smoking meat just takes it to the next level. Instead of the intense, direct heat from the charcoal, the meat cooks off to the side in the warm smokey air from a scattering of damp wood chips on the coals. It’s more challenging, and requires a maddening amount of patience and more than a little trial and error to get the low, even heat just right. But there’s just nothing quite like it.
Could I make my method a bit more practical? Possibly. Am I going to? Nope. Aside from the fact that I actually kinda enjoy making things a little bit challenging for myself, pulled pork is already dangerously tasty and a threat to my mental health. Making it easy to cook would give it more power than any dish should wield.