Not too long ago, I was faced with the most hated and feared of all leftover situations….the dreaded LEFTOVER leftovers (GASP !).
Way back before time began (OK, last winter to be honest) I made one of my favorite recipes for a pork roast. You take a shoulder roast (sometimes called a butt for some unknown, butchery reason…), either bone-in or boneless works fine, rub it well with 2 parts chipotle chile powder to 1 part kosher salt, and toss the meat into a roasting pan or Le Creuset-type Dutch oven. Cover the pan with foil or the lid, and throw THAT into a preheated 275° oven for about 3&1/2 to 4 hours, and then pull the pan from the oven, let the meat rest for about 15 minutes, and pull it into shreds and chunks with 2 forks. Served on warm corn tortillas (homemade is best, come on…….YOU can do it, I showed you how), with a sprinkle of cilantro and a drizzle of fresh-squeezed lime juice (OK, simple salsa cruda if you must), folded over to make simple, soft tacos, well, that’s about the best eats you can get. One of my favorite techniques, ever.
And the initial round of leftovers makes great enchiladas or tostadas, mixed with the appropriate sauces and cheese and other add-ons. Or spectacular pulled pork, gently reheated with some barbeque sauce. Homemade would be best, but Trader Joe’s (yeah, TJ’s again, so…..?) “Kansas City BBQ Sauce” is a perfectly fine alternative. And the leftovers chill out in the freezer really, really well.
Which is where my about 1 pound hunk of chipotle slow-roasted pork shoulder has been hanging out since about January, when I made it. In the freezer, that is. A couple of weeks ago, I got a hankering for some pulled pork sandwiches. I’d gotten a lovely, small head of tender, just harvested cabbage from The Growing Experience in my share, and that cried out for slaw. Which led to pulled pork sandwiches. I had the requisite TJ’s BBQ sauce in the fridge, I had the makings for slaw, I had hamburger buns in the freezer as well, so sounds like dinner to me.
So I pulled the pork out and let it thaw (it was already shredded down when I froze it). The day I made the sandwiches, I plopped the shredded pork in a saucepan, and added just enough of the bottled sauce to moisten it. I have a bad habit of making this dish too drippy when I reheat the meat in the sauce (same technique works for slow-cooked roast beef as well, try it with brisket and swoon), so I was careful to use just enough BBQ sauce to loosen up the shredded meat. Heat it over a very low flame for at least half an hour, covered. As it warms up, the meat will release some liquid, and the steam will condense back up and drop down into the saucepan, to help “juice up” the mixture. Which is why you want to go easy on the sauce you add to the meat.
Yes. The sandwiches were great. Some standard slaw (with a hit of horseradish in the dressing) and bread and butter pickles on the pulled pork, it was delightful.
But, not only have I digressed (which is not all that surprising, now is it….?), I have gone completely off track. Because this post is NOT about using left-over slow roasted meat for pulled BBQ sandwiches, delightful though that may be, it’s about using the LEFTOVERS from that.
And finding your inner peace with the never-ending wheel of leftovers. As in…the Tao of bao.