Forked Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

The other day, I made a delicious pork roast in the oven, perfected with onions, celery, and baby carrots. What to do with leftovers? Pulled pork sandwiches, naturally! I wonder, though, why it’s called “pulled” pork when you’re using a fork (or two) to claw strips of pork from the main roast. I mean, it’s not at all like “pulled” taffy, is it? Wouldn’t that be an interesting meal? Why not call it “clawed” pork—or is that too primitive? Or, to be accurate, why not “forked” pork? I frankly like the sound of that– “Hey, John, pass me some forked pork” or “Fork me some pork, Jennifer.” We could have BBQ stands called the Fork & Pork…

In any case, I am a fan of pork (the other white meat), especially bacon and pork chops. The pig is a terribly useful animal, since most of it is edible. They used to say about the Chicago slaughterhouses that they found a use for every part of the pig, except the squeal! In the south, they even deep-fat fry the skin and intestines (“chitterlings,” pronounced “chitlins”). A farm girl at heart, my mother’s favorite treat was pickled pig’s feet, which can probably be found still on grocery shelves—big, squat, glass jars with raw-looking pig’s feet in some sort of liquid. Perhaps it was the pickling stuff; I never ventured a taste, since the very idea was disgusting to me. But my mother, like her mother before her, going back, perhaps, to the beginning of time, gobbled up this treat, smacking her lips with unbridled pleasure and declaring it to be one of the best. As my brother would say, though, “Ain’t enough ketchup in the world…”

When I was a child and we went on picnics, we often had pulled-pork sandwiches, except that my mother didn’t call them that. The day before our trip to parts unknown, Mom would fill her pressure cooker with pork and spices, cooking it for hours over a low flame, adding barbecue sauce, and she would bring the whole thing, pressure cooker and all, in the car, along with hamburg buns, bread-and-butter pickles and all sorts of other picnic goodies. I still remember those barbecued pork sandwiches, tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Nostalgic sigh.

Back to the present. I tried something different. Instead of pouring BBQ sauce on the pork, I placed it in a corning dish and sloshed on Lea & Perrins spicy steak sauce (not Worcestershire, rather the stuff akin to A-1 sauce). I then microwaved it on high for about 2 ½ minutes, put it on some spicy Italian bread with a little Mayo (optional) and enjoyed a great and simple little sandwich. The only problem? The pork and sauce pop and sizzle and make quite a mess in the microwave. I could cover the dish with plastic wrap but sometimes that ends up steaming the pork instead of texturizing it. Without a cover, the meat and sauce get a little drier, a little crispy and the sharp tang of the sauce is reduced somewhat (almost caramelized). It’s a matter of taste. My old classics professor would entone: “De gustibus non est disputandum,” meaning “there’s no accounting for taste.” To which he, and now I, would add “the man said, as he kissed the mule.”

This approach can also be used for leftover beef pot roasts and even steak. I’m not fond of leftovers, generally, since most meat can taste “off” the next day—not to many people, I’m sure, but I have extra-sensitive nose & taste buds. Very few foods taste good left over. Even fewer taste BETTER the next day—I’m thinking particularly of Italian food like lasagna and spaghetti in particular. When I make my 10-ton lasagna, for example, I prepare it and bake it the day before I plan to serve it, because lasagna tastes better reheated. (I call it 10-ton lasagna because I use several varieties of cheese, homemade tiny meatballs, and so on, so it is irresistible but is not for the calorically inclined concerned eater). That’s a secret recipe so I won’t be revealing THAT any time soon.

©2015 Linda L Labin, PhD

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