Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pulled Pork with Moroccan Spices, Figs and Balsamic Reduction

OH BOY. This was good.

I am done with my first year of teaching! Woo-hoo!! We had a pot-luck staff party at a colleagues house, so I decided that I wanted to make pulled pork. When I was in Tennessee, I had me some pork butts that just 'bout blew my cap. These were pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

I had seen some pork shoulder butt a little while back at Whole Foods, so I set out on a mission. On my way to the meat counter,I passed the produce section and saw these beautiful baskets of figs. Hmm, pork and figs. Match made in heaven. With...Moroccan spices! And a balsamic reduction! And toasted almonds!!

This recipe is about 1o minutes worth of prep time, but six hours worth of cooking time.

First, make the spice rub.
Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, chili powder, dry mustard, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, brown sugar. I didn't measure's more fun that way. Rub it on there and let it sit, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

This bad boy is going to cook for a long time, and since we were going to the pot-luck around 3 o'clock, I decided to set my alarm for the crack of dawn, pop my butt in the oven, and go back to sleep. It's nice to wake up with all of those wonderful spices wafting through the house, too. I decided to cook it in my tagine, so that's where I stored it the night before. I woke at 4 am, turned the oven to 300° F, and said TTFN. It ended up cooking for almost 7 hours, but 5-6 will do just fine.

While the pork was finishing up, I started on the sauce. I made a balsamic reduction with figs and a little fennel:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • handful of figs, chopped, plus fig skins (I peeled the rest of my figs and added them to the pork once it was done)
  • 1 cup of chicken stock (I happened to be making stock from the previous night's smoked paprika, potato, chicken tagine. yum.)
  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar (don't waste your money on expensive aged balsamic OR don't waste your time reducing at all and DO use expensive aged balsamic...I chose to reduce)
  • 1 bulb of fennel, chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon
In a medium saucepan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sauteé onion until translucent. Add ginger and cook another 3 minutes. Turn heat to high, and add vinegar, stock, fennel and fig. Once it reaches a boil, turn to low and simmer until sauce thickens and you have 1/4-1/2 cup remaining. P.S. Save the lemon for later...
"Figs, meet balsamic. I think you two have met before..."

When the pork's time was up, and pulled it out of the oven and shredded it with two forks. If there were bones, the meat would have fallen off them. I probably could have shredded it with a spatula, though. I mentioned peeling the rest of my figs above...I quartered, then halved them lengthwise and tossed them in with the pork.Almost there.....I wanted a little nutty crunch, so I toasted some slivered almonds as well, and sprikled them atop the pork. I then strained my balsamic reduction, and finished it by adding 1/2 of a preserved lemon (peel only), finely diced. Drizzle over the pork and almonds. Garnish with any additional figs, and fennel sprigs....and...........

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