You can’t move for pulled pork at the moment – US style BBQ is everywhere.
I’m not complaining for a minute. But I did want to do a slow cooked pork that went with a more autumnal British tea last weekend. Something that would sit well alongside mashed carrot and swede and some roasties. Clearly, I needed pulled pork in gravy.
Taking a cue from the Italian pairing of pork and fennel seeds I cooked the pork in a rich stock spiked with a couple of different aniseed flavours.
The market had hand of pork – first time I’d ever bought it. It’s a cheap cut from just below the shoulder and still on the bone. Any of the good value slow cook cuts would work with this I think.
First up, in a heavy pan that can transfer to the oven, brown the pork all over. Remove and set aside.
In the same pan, fry a roughly chopped onion, a couple of carrots and a stick or two of celery for five minutes or so.
Add a couple of bay leaves, a star anise, a few fennel seeds and some sage leaves. They’re all really warm, savoury flavours that go brilliantly with roast pork.
Now add a shot of pastis – a good excuse to dig out that ancient bottle of Pernod from the cupboard. Stand back as it may flame. Pour in a glass of white wine or vermouth and let it boil up for a few minutes.
Pour another shot of pastis into a glass, add ice and a splash of water. Drink this, it’s lush.
Put the pork back into the pan and top up with enough chicken stock to come about three quarters of the way up the joint.
Pop a lid on the pan – I added a layer of foil too to get a good seal and stop any of the loveliness escaping. This needs three hours in a low oven (about 150 degC) and it’s worth turning the pork over every hour or so. Take the lid off for the last half hour to get a bit of colour going on.
The pork should be collapsingly tender and ready to pull apart – resist for now and set it aside under some foil to rest.
Time to make the gravy…
Pour the sauce out of the oven dish through a sieve into a jug. Push down with a spoon on all the veggies in the sieve to get as much of the juice out as you can.
Leave this to cool down for a bit so that any fat rises to the top. Under no circumstances pour this away!
Skim off the fat with a spoon into back into the pan. Stir in a few spoons of plain flour – stop when all the fat is absorbed and you have a thin paste. Now, over a medium heat gradually pour in the stock from the jug, stirring all the time to avoid any lumps. Once all the stock’s gone in, let it simmer until you’re happy with the thickness. It’s basically the same method as making any gravy.
Time to pull the pork. Firstly, pour any juices that have come out of the meat into the gravy. Then pull it apart with a couple of forks – it should pretty much fall apart. Put the pulled pork into the gravy to warm through for a minute or two and it’s ready.
It’s almost better the day after with bubble and squeak and then the day after that in a bap with pickles.