Friday, April 22, 2011

Mosaic-inspired Korean Pulled Pork in a Roasted Apple

The other day, to celebrate my first job/internship offer, Mitch and I went to a "fusion tapas" restaurant downtown called Mosaic. The food and drinks were great--fresh raspberry mojitos, compressed watermelon, arugula, and goat cheese salad, and fried artichoke hearts. But, as usual, I had to realize that there were more delicious sounding things on the menu than we could eat in one night.

So I got out my little green book and wrote detailed descriptions of the menu items we didn't order but wished we had. And a few days later, I went about trying to make the first one--Pulled Korean BBQ Pork in an Apple.

I started looking up what Korean Pulled Pork might be, and I got some good ideas from other food blogs, but I ended up just going with my instincts about what might taste good. And it did taste quite good--definitely worth making again someday. When I asked Mitch if there was anything I should change, he just said "there could be more of it," at which point I told him there was a lot more in a bowl in the kitchen. It makes a lovely appetizer, and the leftover pulled pork makes delicious sandwiches (I made Banh Mi with it).

Ingredients: pork shoulder, a few large cooking apples, 1 ripe pear, soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, sesame, a bunch of scallions, brown sugar, gochujang (optional), chili garlic sauce, sour cream

I ended up using a version of a marinade I use for Korean-inspired grilled short ribs--a delicious combination of a ripe pear, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame, scallion, and brown sugar, all blended to a puree. This time I added extra chili garlic sauce and some gochujang--a Korean fermented chili and soy condiment available at Asian grocery stores.

I'm sure pulled pork is best done in the oven, but when it is hot outside and/or I want to leave the house during the day and not worry that it might burn down, I prefer the slow-cooker. I took a pork shoulder, removed the bones and some of the fat, cut it into a few pieces, and tossed it in the slow cooker with the marinade. I then let this cook for about 8 hours on low heat, at which point the pork was very tender. After removing the pork from the cooker and allowing it to cool slightly, I took a couple forks and began the process of "pulling" it. It ends up being a lot easier to just use your hands as soon as the pork is cool enough.

Once it was all pulled apart, I put the pork back in the sauce in the slow cooker, and let it continue to cook. While it is cooking, take a large cooking apple, cut it in half, and remove the core and some of the good part of the apple to turn it into a bowl of sorts. Do this for as many apples as you want to serve--there will be more than enough pork if you use a whole pork shoulder cut.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and place the apple halves cut side up in an oven proof dish large enough to hold them. Using a slotted spoon, fill each apple with pulled pork, trying not to include much of the juices. Bake the filled apples for about 20 minutes, or until the apple is fully cooked.

While the apples are cooking, heat some sliced scallions in a bit of oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Cook these for 10 minutes, or until the scallions are very soft. Fold into a bit of sour cream.

Then, to serve, I took the apples out of the oven, transferred them with a large spoon to soup bowls, topped with a bit of sauce from the slow cooker, and then finished them off with a dollop of scallion sour cream. (I meant to garnish them with pistachios, but I had clearly forgotten that I ate the entire bag of pistachios a few days before while watching The West Wing.)

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