In our two part interview with Salt's Cure's Chris Phelps and Zak Walters, we learned that the two chefs will drive all the way to Napa Valley to buy the pigs for their West Hollywood restaurant. These aren't the kind of challenges you expect when you open a restaurant that serves only California ingredients, but to buy these happily chubby pigs, you make the exception.
Given the extreme care these chefs take in finding their pork, is it any surprise that their braise is a multi-step, multi-temperature lovefest? You reserve the fat, you let the meat slowly melt into its braising liquid at the lowest of temperatures, and then you let it soak up all of its juices as it cools. We just have one extra request. Please, for the love of meat, don't buy your pork from Ralph's.
Pulled Pork Sandwich
From: Salt's Cure chefs Chris Phelps and Zak Walters.
Note: A heavy steel pan is preferable to sear the pork in, though a stainless steel pan will suffice. When searing the pork, the goal is to render out the fat to build flavor. When you believe they're done searing, keep them in the pan for another minute. Also, if you're braising in a rush, you can cook the pork at 300°F for 3 to 4 hours, though it may become dry.
Makes: 1 sandwich, with pounds more of pulled pork for leftovers.
5 pounds pork shoulder, cut into large square pieces
12 ounces India Pale Ale (or other hoppy beer)
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 quart pork stock (chicken stock or water also acceptable)
2 slices of bread
butter to taste
salt to taste
1. Rub the pork pieces with the mustard seed and season liberally with salt. Place the pieces into a tray and cover them with plastic wrap, allowing it to marinate for at 12 hours, 36 hours preferred.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Heat a steel pan over high heat until smoking hot then add oil and pork pieces one at a time, placing them fat side down. Turn the heat down to medium high and sear the pork on all sides until deep brown and crusted.
3. Place the meat into a deep braising pan. Carefully pour the leftover fat into a container and reserve. Set the original searing pan over medium heat and pour in the beer. When the beer has reduced by a third, add the stock and bring to a boil.
4. Pour the beer and stock mixture over the pork and cover the braising pan with foil. Place it in the oven and cook for 4 1/2 hours. Increase oven temperature to 300°F and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until fork tender and able to be shredded. Allow the pork to cool in its cooking juices until it's at room temperature.
5. Separate the meat from the braising liquid and pull it apart by hand. Pour the desired amount of the rendered pork fat from earlier over the pork and mix. Pour the braising liquid back over the pulled pork.
6. Spread butter over the bread and toast it until golden brown. Place a large spoonful of the pulled pork onto the toasted bread and serve it with the pickle.