Two weeks ago in Paris, there was a heatwave and it was also one of our close friend’s birthday. At the time, it was difficult to stomach the possibility of a sweaty dance party in the bowels of a warehouse in an admittedly chic suburb OR the fact that it was 4th of July weekend and all the food blogs I browse were tempting me with recipes for succulent meats. I wanted savory meat without heating up my already balmy 45 square meters. I wanted pulled pork! Of course, like any 25-year-old sane woman, I set up my crockpot in my bathroom (God forbid I heat the house with my meaty caprice)! Before embarking to the party, I set my plug timer and made a delicious broth/sauce for my 1.5 kilos of pork shoulder to float in. A 4th of July pool party in my bathroom!
Before the party: A day before DO prepare a rub because you are really dedicated to FLAVOR. Because I rarely measure anything I mixed together:
Ancho chili powder (a lot, like 3 tbsp)
Chipotle chili powder (less because it’s POWERFUL maybe 2 tsp)
Cumin (because you have to)
Spanish paprika (this has nothing on regular paprika, essential ingredient)
Oregano (bring some herbs to the party, I don’t know)
Ground ginger (because why the hell not?)
Salt & pepper (the usual suspects)
Then I got creative and impatient and toasted some whole coriander seeds then put them (almost) immediately into the lil chopper gizmo, which, does not grind spices all that well… It pulverized the seeds and let out all the aromas from the husks (probably). I still dumped the rough coriander dust into the jar of spice rub because whatever.
I reckon that’s it… it’s been two weeks, so please forgive me. Spice rubs are not an exact science but that mix seems like it has enough PEPS to go around. (Side note: peps is a very popular vocabulary word that I learned from French cooking shows). I rubbed my hunks of pork shoulder with the spices, put the meat back in the fridge and forgot about it.
A day and a half later, the heat seemed to be diminishing and I needed a distraction and excuse for my lateness (remember, I was going to a birthday party). I got out my crock-pot and boiled some water. To make the juice for the meat to swim around in, I dissolved:
2 chicken bullion cubes in about a quart of water (chicken broth doesn’t exist in its pure form in this country, bummer).
I threw in a can of chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce
the rest of the brown sugar I had
a big spoonful of Dijon mustard
a big spoonful of molasses
A big glug each of hickory smoke flavor and Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves of smashed garlic
2 small onions
I stirred the juice around and tasted it since I had not yet introduced my meat (pleased to meat you). The juice was everything you could want in pulled pork juice, it was a savory, smoky, spicy and sweet elixir that would elevate the the pedestrian flavor of a pork shoulder, boiled over hard. I flopped the meat into the mix, set up my apparatuses in the bathroom (timer plug + crock pot) and as they say, I set it and forgot it.
At 6 am, when I got home, I saw that the Mr. Electricity had done his job and there was chunks of meat floating in a murky sauce in the crock pot in my bathroom (insert poop joke here or NOT since in France the toilets are in the WATER CLOSET and the bathroom refers to the actual ROOM with the BATH). Anyway, at 6 am, I wasn’t about to deal with the meat so I brushed my teeth and went to bed (that’s what she said).
When I woke up about 6 hours later, I popped the ceramic insert of the crock pot in the fridge to solidify the fat for later skimming. Later that day, I concerned myself with the accoutrements for pulled pork. First of all, all store-bought buns in France are garbage. I had to make my own bread. I used this recipe for “light brioche buns”. They were everything you could have wanted and more in a fresh bun: fluffy but a little rich. Worth the effort.
But that’s not all folks! Good pulled pork sandwiches NEED cole slaw. So in addition to baking rolls, I chopped up some coleslaw. I will not post my recipe for coleslaw because A. this post is already too long and B. because I freestyle it each time. I WILL, however, explain my basic coleslaw philosophy which is rooted in my aversion to all sweet coleslaws and my appreciation for sour things. Coleslaw needs:
1. Apple cider vinegar base
2. Lesser portions of mayo + buttermilk OR sour cream
3. Celery seeds
4. Old Bay seasoning
5. Smoken paprika
6. Dijon mustard
7. Texas Pete
8. Fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
9. I also threw in very thin slices of a Granny Smith apple because I ALREADY told y’all, I like sour.
So there you have it folks, after partying until dawn, I woke up and prepared a whole meal from scratch. I was able to enjoy wads of succulent meat strings and crispy, sour slaw on a fluffy, rich bun that very evening. I realize the title is probably misleading since meat, mayonnaise and gluten don’t seem like detox foods. You’re right. In fact, in the 102°F warehouse, dance and cigarette smoke chamber, you sweated out all the alcohol you had previously consumed and went home at 6 am cleansed from the inside but sticky and stinking to high heaven. This meal is really to reestablish the delicate balance of garbage foods floating around in your innards.
Bon appétit, ya slobs!