13 Jul // Pull yourself together, pull some pork

Sundays can be an emotional roller coaster, where many factors are at play. Relationship status, family obligations, hangover level, financial situation, or how much you love or hate your job, for example. It’s pretty easy to just continue on with life during the week, but something about Sundays can bring it all crashing to a halt and bring all your insecurities to the forefront of your mind. Especially if you had lindauer and birthday cake for dinner on Saturday night (don’t ask).

Cooking has always been one of my favourite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. There is something so cathartic about the process of creating a feast that always makes me feel better. Even if you start out rotting in the depths of hungover lonely despair on your mate’s couch, the lure of getting a meal out always gets me in the end.

I’ve teamed up with Fisher & Paykel for some recipe writing, and they’re encouraging everyone to find out what their cooking style is - you can do the quiz here. I’m the Weekend Gourmet: someone who cares about quality produce, and will put a lot more time into creating feasts on the weekends. It’s on the money for me - during the week I’m a very throw-together cook: a piece of fish simply pan-fried with some seasonal veggies, or a salad with a grain and some seeds, nuts, and herbs. Just last week I stood in the kitchen and had a baked kumara, a raw carrot and a few mouthfuls out of the frying pan of my flatmate’s burrito filling. But come Sunday, I’ll hit the markets, and the butcher, and the non-fancy supermarket for basics (quite good for scoping out babes) and the fancy supermarket across the road (also quite good for scoping out babes except they usually have babe girlfriends or cute children in tow), and then get to it.

On Sunday night, pork was on the menu. I’ve come to slightly loathe the term pulled pork, but over the years I’ve tweaked my roasted, shredded pork recipe, to the point I now have the makings of quite the feast. I was at my friend's house, utilising her lovely kitchen, and her wedding-present dinner set, and we yarned and laughed over cups of tea and then cups of beer, as I pottered in the kitchen and got a feast on the table. This is actually quite a simple assembling of a few things, and like I said, whipping up a spicy dressing, and rolling out flatbread dough, while traversing your respective relationship histories with one of your best mates over beer is basically guaranteed to perk you up, if not make you laugh 'til you cry.  

And then at the end of it: utterly delicious food! Honestly, this is foolproof Sunday evening behaviour. On the menu? Roasted shredded pork, quick pickled cucumbers, homemade flatbreads, a tangy-spicy dressing, and natural yoghurt, lime, and coriander.

In the words of the great Elizabeth Taylor: Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together. And shred some pork. Just get cooking, ok?!

Roasted shredded pork with quick pickled cucumbers, spicy sauce, and flatbreads

Roasted shredded pork

Ingredients

1.8-2kg pork shoulder (bone in or out)

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp paprika

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

2 tbsp cooking oil

2 x 355ml (approx) cans or bottles of beer (use beer with citrus notes if you can, otherwise whatever you have will work here. I’ve used Double Brown before to great success)

Juice of one orange

Method

Preheat oven to 175C.

Cut the pork into large chunks (about 6-8 chunks) and place in a bowl. Any large chunks of skin/fat, score with a sharp knife (or craft knife). Add the spices and season generously. Toss the pieces to ensure the spices cover the meat.

In a large, heavy bottomed, oven proof, pan (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven, affectionately named Olive), heat a couple of teaspoons of oil. Heat to a medium heat, and add the pork in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Brown the meat on all sides using tongs, then remove the meat and set aside in a bowl. Keeping the pan on the heat, add the beer and the orange juice.

Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat and return the pork to the pan. Ensure the pork in about half covered by the liquid.

Place the pot in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn over the meat, and place the lid on the pot. Return to the oven for another 1 - 1.5 hours. While the meat is cooking prepare all your others bits and pieces for the meal.

Just before you’re ready to serve, remove the lid, and if there’s any pieces of skin/fat, place them upwards. Turn the oven to grill, and place the pot underneath - this will get the skin a bit crispy and puffy, like crackling. This should only take about 10 minutes.

Serve with the flatbreads, cucumbers, spicy sauce, fresh coriander, lime, and natural yoghurt.

 

Flatbreads

Ingredients

2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon oil

Boiling water

Method

In a medium bowl, add the flour and the oil. Slowly add the boiling water and using a fork, stir constantly. Stop adding the water once the dough has bound into a ball. Dust flour on your bench, and turn the ball out. Knead the dough for a good 6-8 minutes. Divide dough into small balls (about 12 should be about right) and roll out into circles using a rolling pin (or a wine bottle). Heat a frying pan (preferably cast iron) to a medium-low heat, and cook each flatbread for about a minute each side. Serve immediately.

 

Quick pickled cucumbers

Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

Pinch salt

½ tsp chilli flakes

Method

Cut the cucumber longways, then slice into thin slices. Place in a bowl with the salt and leave for about ten minutes. Drain the liquid, then add the vinegar and sugar. Set aside until ready to serve, and add chilli flakes as a garnish.

 

Spicy sauce

This is a very modified version of Ssamjang, a Korean chilli sauce. Drizzle it over your pork when cooked. Always remember to taste and adjust!

Ingredients

1 tbsp miso paste

1 tsp honey

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 finely chopped shallot

3 red chillis, deseeded and thinly sliced

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

3 finely chopped spring onions

Method

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well with a fork to combine. Taste and adjust as necessary.