Slow roasted pulled pork with pasta
From June, 2011 Letter
Dirk and Jutta Lammerts, both MD’s from Duesseldorf, Germany, were my neighbors in Forest Hill, San Francisco. We enjoyed this dish at their house warming dinner. It was sensational, especially as it was served paired with an Italian wine. It is also one of those rare meals that is both filling and refined, satisfying both for gourmets and gourmands.
This recipe, provided by Dirk and Jutta, combines succulent pork and creamy pasta with a distinct cheese and pepper aroma. Slow-cooking the pork over several hours makes the meat extremely tender and infuses an intense, smoky flavor.
4-6 lb. bone-in pork shoulder
Rub (see below)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons mesquite liquid smoke
½ cup water
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ tablespoon onion powder
½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ tablespoon cayenne pepper
Pasta cacio e pepe
12 oz. linguine
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Extra-virgin olive oil
Plum-chipotle sauce (store-bought)
Trim the fat off the meat and discard; tie the pork shoulder together with butcher’s twine for even cooking. Combine all ingredients for the rub in a bowl and mix; cover the meat evenly with the rub and wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.
Remove the pork from the refrigerator and unwrap; season with kosher salt. Heat vegetable oil in large stainless steel sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork on each (!) side until medium-brown (approximately 2-2½ minutes per side for a total of 12-15 minutes). Be careful not to burn the bits that are sticking to the pan. Transfer the pork to the slow cooker. Pour water and liquid smoke into the sauté pan and deglaze over high heat for 1-2 minutes; then pour the contents of the sauté pan over the pork. Start the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours followed by 5 hours on low until the meat is very tender and easily falls apart.
Transfer the pork to a large flat casserole. Pour the braising liquid from the slow cooker through a fine-mesh sieve and then into a fat separator; skim off the fat and reserve the braising liquid. Pull the meat from the bone and shred the pork using two forks. Pour a small amount of the braising liquid over the shredded pork to keep it moist; cover the casserole with aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven at low temperature.
In the meantime, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for the pasta; add a large pinch of kosher salt and a splash of olive oil. Grate the Pecorino Romano very finely (it should have a powdery, airy consistency). Cook the linguine until al-dente; they should still be firm, as they will finish the cooking process in the pan. Drain the pasta and reserve 1-2 cups of the pasta water. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, pour ½ cup of the pasta water into the pan together with butter and ground pepper. Add the linguine and the Pecorino Romano; toss and keep heating until the cheese is melted and evenly covers the pasta; the pasta should be almost dry.
Note: The original recipe for pasta cacio e pepe uses spaghetti instead of linguine – I hope the Roman gods will forgive the modification. Feel free to use spaghetti if you fear their wrath.
Plate the pulled pork with the pasta cacio e pepe in deep plates; serve with plum-chipotle sauce over the pork to taste. Pair with a medium-bodied red wine like a Californian Zinfandel or an Italian Chianti.
Makes 4-6 servings