Meaty, Recipes

Pulled Pork – recipe

Pulled pork bun

Pulled Pork bun of joy

It’s hard imagine a pub/festival/café/market menu without pulled pork appearing somewhere. Whether served on its own, drowning in (often sadly generic) BBQ sauce, piled on a burger, folded into a pasty (yes really), or chucked onto a pizza, the true wonder of this stalwart of American BBQ has become a sadly abused dish that deserves a bit of attention and re-vitalisation. I am in no way trying to re-invent this truly wondrous piece of cooking, merely trying to show how bringing it back to basics can elevate it to its deserved place atop the meaty heights of glory. And the best thing is that you can do this recipe at home in your oven (although arguably it would be even better if you did it in a smoker) with minimum fuss. It really is a case of having faith in the low and slow school of cooking and just leaving it alone until it is done – that can be anything from 8-18 hours depending on oven temperature and how big the piece of pork is. I would highly recommend getting a meat thermometer for this and, if you can, get one with a remote probe that you can leave in the oven and thus preventing the need to keep getting the pork out to check. This recipe is pretty much as laid out by the excellent Felicity Cloake and all I’ve done is lowered the temperature slightly and tweaked the rub.

I would highly advocate using bone-in shoulder of pork for this with the rind still on. The bone will add flavour and the rind and fat will help keep the meat lubricated as it cooks and slowly breaks down into melting, tender piggy joy. Once shredded the pork also needs to sit for a while (preferably overnight) in the fridge with the juices so make sure you plan ahead for the time. This version of the recipe will easily feed 20 people – if you are using a smaller piece of shoulder then simply reduce the rub quantities and cooking time (a 2kg piece should be done after 6-8 hours) and keep an eye on that internal temperature….

Ingredients

  • 1 whole shoulder of pork, bone-in and with rind still on – weighing about 6.5kg
  • 6 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 6 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika or ground chiplotle
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • Soft white rolls, BBQ sauce, coleslaw – to serve
  • Preheat your oven to 220c/Gas Mark 7.
  • Score the rind with a sharp blade (or get your butcher to do it for you) so the rub can wiggle its way through – a criss-cross or just lines, it’s up to you.
  • Mix together the salt, sugar, paprika, and black pepper and rub about half of it on to the pork. Really work it in and cover the whole shoulder with it.
  • Put the pork in a roasting tin (you will need a big one) and place in the oven, letting it sizzle and crackle for 30-40 mins.
  • Take the pork out and turn the oven down to 110c/Gas Mark ¼, stick in your remote thermometer (if you have one) and cover the vast slab of pig with a tent of foil to keep the moisture in. Don’t wrap it tightly as you want the humid air to circulate a bit. Put the pork back in your low oven and leave well alone for anything from 12 to 18 hours. The pork is ready for pulling when the internal temp is between 85 and 89 centigrade – be patient! The wait is worth it. If you haven’t got a remote thermometer, check the pork after 8 or so hours and keep cooking as needed – try to keep taking it out of the oven to check the temperature down to a minimum as it will only slow things down.
  • When your thermometer reaches the longed for temperature (your kitchen and probably entire house will probably be full of porky aroma), take the pork out, remove the tent of foil and then turn the oven back up to 200c/Gas Mark 6.
  • Drain off the juices (there will be a lot) into a jug or bowl and set aside. Put the meat back in for 10 mins or so to firm it slightly then remove and leave to rest, covered again with a tent of foil, for half an hour. It should practically escaping from the bone by this time.
  • Using a couple of sturdy forks, shred the pork into ribbons and chunks, skin and all. The bones should slide out clean but give them a scrape if reluctant meat is clinging to them. Once you have shredded the meat, mix in the rest of the rub and then return the juices to the meat and stir it all together. It will smell epic.
  • Leave to cool then cover and place in the fridge to mingle and mix – overnight if you can.
  • When you are ready to eat, remove from the fridge and reheat in a moderate oven. If you are serving this as part of a buffet or party, you can always leave the pork in a slow cooker to keep warm.
  • Grab a bun and slice it in half, put a goodly dollop of your favourite coleslaw on the bottom, pile a huge mound of sticky, glorious pork on top, squirt on some quality sauce, and put the top on. Eat instantly and expect to be liberally covered juice and sauce. Then sneakily reach for another bun and repeat. You know it makes sense!
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After 18 hours it should look a bit like this…

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Ramblings..., Reviews

Grillstock Smokehouse, Walthamstow – review

 

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There may be some (or indeed many) that view the opening of a new American BBQ joint in London as yet another example of lazy, greedy people trying to cash in on recent food trends. Another attempt to grab a few extra quid from the ‘dude-food’ obsessed crowd of bearded 20-somethings who slavishly follow every pop-up, food van, or ‘next big thing’ bricks-and-mortar establishment. And if the new branch of Grillstock in the heart of Walthamstow (alarms begin to sound as people realise they have to travel beyond the hipster haven of Hackney) was the result of cynical, soulless, cash-laden backers trying to make a quick buck then perhaps such suspicions would be justified.

But this, my good friends, is Grillstock.

And there’s a little bit more to it than that.

Starting life as a Bristol music and food festival way back in 2010, long before pulled pork featured on almost every pub and restaurant menu, Grillstock is a loud, meaty love-letter to the massive BBQ festivals and traditions of the US. We’re talking about groups of people who all get together over a weekend and sit around their blackened smokers, occasionally testing temperature and burn rate, to produce the ultimate in low and slow cooking, drinking ice cold beers, and generally being awesome. Grillstock (the festival, which this year is taking place at three different locations) puts meat at the centre of their celebrations and, like the US, features a genuine BBQ competition where everything from chicken to brisket to ribs is judged and rewarded with a variety of prizes and awards, alongside some great music, fine beer, BBQ demos, and some excellent places to chomp on various parts of porcine anatomy. And the chilli-eating competition is alarmingly entertaining to watch.

Following the success of the festival, a little smokehouse in Bristol’s St Nicholas market opened which was quickly followed by a larger site at Clifton Triangle and the lucky locals were thus able to feast on genuine, fabulous BBQ all year round. Having visited both on several occasions I can honestly say that the meat at Grillstock in Bristol seriously rivalled anything I’d had in London and, actually, made me rather jealous in the process. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some excellent BBQ in the capital – Miss P, Pitt Cue Co, The Joint – but we didn’t have Grillstock.

Until now.

Following the success of their first opening outside of Bristol (in the beautiful city of Bath), the owners turned their eyes toward London and, having carefully found the right site, opened their doors to the baying public on April 10th this year. I was lucky enough to get an table at the soft opening (which was by guest-list only) the day before and took a good friend along who also shares a penchant for smoked meats. This was my first proper expedition out of South London since being ill and I was personally very pleased I could just sit on a tube to the end of the line – thus saving more energy for meat.

On entering I have to say I was pretty bowled over by the place. The Clifton smokehouse is small – one large table down the middle of the room and that is it – but Grillstock E17 is spacious and filled with a huge variety of seating options. There are tables for two, a few booths, a big communal table with high stools, and a selection of customisable options for groups of anything from 5 to 10. Like Bristol (and I assume Bath too), once you’ve been seated you then order your food from the bar, collect your drink, and sit back and relax in anticipation of a huge meaty feast to come. The decor is pretty stripped back – the breeze block walls are adorned with posters from Grillstocks past and a bit of metal here and there – but the atmosphere and lighting is welcoming and hearty. It’s the kind of place that will be great on a hot summers day but also perfect to hide away and warm up in thedepths of winter. Also like Bristol, the staff are relaxed, friendly, and clearly enjoying themselves.

DSC_0982But what about the food?

Grillstock offer either a plate of one type of meat, a combo of three, a sharing platter of all four meats for two people, or the Grand Champion which is a selection so big I wouldn’t be surprised if it took more than one staff member to carry it (finish it in an hour and win a shirt and some hot sauce – maybe next time). They also do a range of burgers which includes the vast Lockjaw, consisting of two 5oz burgers, pulled pork, brisket, burnt ends, cheese, and fry-sauce which has to be seen to be believed, as well as hot dogs and a variety of sides and extras like BBQ beans and cornbread. This may make choosing your dinner rather difficult.

I’ve eaten my fair share of ribs, pulled pork, and wings in my time. Some have been good, others pretty poor. My combo platter of all three aforementioned meats at Grillstock was, quite simply, amazing. The ribs were soft and tender with a good ‘bark’ of smoked exterior that yielded to reveal perfectly cooked meat within. The wings had a nice zing and were succulent and delicious and the pulled pork was smoky, savoury, and incredibly more-ish. These marvels of smoked flesh were served with a huge fistful of fries, a well-balanced slaw, a lovely little brioche-style bun, and some house pickles which put many so-called ‘home-made’ pickles I’ve sampled in London to shame – crunchy, tangy, a bit of spice – everything a pickle should be.

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Ribs, wings, and pulled pork combo

My companion also had pulled pork but chose the smoked chicken and a slab of brisket to go with it. Brisket is a hard thing to get right – it is easy to dry out and turn into a leathery mess that needs a saw to hack through it – but the years of experience of low and slow cooking pay off here, producing a juicy, smoky, slab of wonder. The chicken was pretty special too.

Chicken, brisket, and pulled pork

Chicken, brisket, and pulled pork

All of this can be smothered in the house BBQ or hot sauces, which sit proudly on the table alongside traditional condiments like ketchup, American mustard (French’s of course!), and the classic Frank’s Hot Sauce.

And speaking of Franks – Frank Underwood would definitely come back for the ribs here, even though he has a favourite rib joint of his own.

Sorry, I may have been watching a bit too much ‘House of Cards’….

Back to Grillstock…

To go with our meats, we sampled the own-brand pale ale which was light and nicely hopped – perfect with BBQ – and were certainly tempted by the wall of bourbons and other boozy delights that shone from behind the bar. I can also recommend the Pistonhead lager or any of the Brooklyn beers they offer – all easy drinking and all perfect with the food. Or you can have cider, cocktails, iced tea, or root beer. You get the idea.

We were reluctant to leave – it was very tempting to sup on a few more beers, wait for the food to go down, and then start again but eventually we shuffled off, full and happy.

I cannot recommend Grillstock highly enough. Everything from the staff, the room, the food, the drink, the atmosphere – it’s all brilliant. And surprisingly well priced too. The combo platter (which filled me up enough so as not to need dinner) is £18 which is an absolute bargain, I have been to places where a single portion of (not so good) ribs cost more and certainly didn’t come with such a wide selection of sides. The beers were £3.80 each and you can get a Jack Daniels and Coke for £3.50! This is all good news.

So get on up to Walthamstow and try it. Or, if Bristol or Bath are nearer, head down there instead – you’ll find the same quality of food and service across the board. And once you’ve done that, buy a ticket to one of the festivals this year either in Bristol, Manchester, or London and take your experience further. Grillstock’s motto is Meat, Music, Mayhem – it could not be a more fitting description of this excellent enterprise.

Grillstock Walthamstow

198 Hoe St,

E17

www.grillstock.co.uk

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