Just got your paws on a prime piece of Pork Shoulder - preferably from us happy folk at the Happy Pig Club? Want to transform this slab of perfectly marbled porcine perfection into the current dish of the zeitgeist Pulled Pork? The good news is it really couldn't be any simpler.
Let's face it Pulled Pork couldn't be more trendy if it grew an overlength beard and had sleeve tattoos. It really is bang-on trend at the moment but like all things, the fact that it has become so damn popular means that unfortunately there are now some pale imitations of this amazing food currently on offer.
So how do you make sure that the pulled pork bonanza you're planning is one for your loved ones to remember and not just a bland, tasteless meaty sludge?
Firstly - and we are bound to say this aren't we - you've got to get your hands on pork which has been reared and butchered well. This will ultimately mean it should come from a pig which has enjoyed a free-ranging life, able to run freely and rummage for its own food. It is this life-style which will produce good pigs with plenty of finely developed muscle....which of course in turn translates directly to top draw meat.
And so to the cooking.....and this is where it couldn't be easier. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall calls his recipe for Pork Shoulder Pork Donnie Brasco. The reason being that you put it in the oven and simply forgedabouuudit!
First up you need to get your joint out of any packaging as soon as possible to let the skin breathe - the key to good crackling. Here at the Happy Pig Club we usually rub course salt into the skin side and leave to rest for up to an hour before wiping away the juices this draws out. If you're confident you've got a cracking joint then, in terms of preparing the joint, that's it. No point putting in any further flavouring because the taste of free-range pork really can speak for itself. If you prefer of course feel free to rub your favourite flavourings on the skin......in my view you can't go far wrong with a handful of crushed fennel seeds.
Wack your oven up to its highest setting and let it fully pre-heat. Next, put your pork shoulder in a roasting tin plenty big enough to give it space, pour in a glass of water, beer or wine (not over the top but around the outside) and shove it in the oven.
After about 30 minutes turn the oven down to 110c and leave it. And that's it. Just keep the thing cooking low and slow for at least 10-12 hours - we sometimes let a whole joint go for longer - possibly upto 16 hours and I have personally done a full 24 hours before now.
The only thing you need to do in this time is occasionally take it out, baste it in its own rather prolifically produced juices and make sure no-one inadvertently turns the oven up.....particularly hard in a house of toddlers!
If you have a meat thermometer keep an eye on the internal temperature and basically the pork is ready to pull as opposed to slice once it hits around 90c.
The crackling may need a bit of work given how slowly you've been cooking the joint so we usually cut off the top level and shove it back in a really hot oven for five minutes or so.
Then grab your weapon of choice - forks, or the wonderful Kodak Bear Claws - and tear away. Before you know it you'll have a pile of the most succulent meat known to man.
Final instruction: Consume.