Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Recipe: Pulled Pork Shoulder - Real, Cheap, Slow Food...

I thought it was time to share a favourite recipe of mine, although one that I have changed - and continue to adjust in different ways - over the years.

I've bought pork shoulder from the same local butchers for a long time, and I buy it there because of the quality, price and convenience as much as - logically - the local aspect. Not all butchers have it in stock but most should source it for you easily.

As I say, the recipe has changed a bit over the years and I've cooked it on the barbecue and in a slow cooker, but this is the oven method, as it will suit more people. As ever, remember I am not a trained cook so use common sense when handling food and follow best practice when cooking anything.


1.5-2kg  Pork Shoulder - deboned, and if it's tied up untie it.
1 Apple - Sliced
1 Onion - Sliced
1 Garlic Bulb - Split and cloves slightly crushed
6 sprigs of Rosemary or 2 tsp of dried
I tsp of Caraway Seed
1 tsp of Fennel Seed
1 tsp of Juniper Berries
1 tsp of Yellow Mustard Seed
1 tbsp of Cider Vinegar

1 tbsp of Mustard
1 tbsp of Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp of Barbecue Sauce
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp of Smoked Paprika


Anything else you fancy!


  1. Set the oven to 150°C.
  2. Make a bed with the apple, onion and garlic in a large, deep roasting tray and place the shoulder, skin side up, on top.
  3. Put good splash of water in the tray, enough to cover the 'vegetables' half way up then add the cider vinegar, caraway, fennel, juniper, mustard and rosemary into the water.
  4. Season the pork with salt and pepper, and cover with two layers of tinfoil. Place in the oven and cook for at least 4 and preferably 6 hours.(Check when cooked that the inside temperature is at least 185-190°C.)
  5. Remove tinfoil and put the shoulder on a rack on a new tray, remove the skin and place on another tray. Place both in the oven at 200°C for 20-30mins until the shoulder starts to brown a little and the separated skin is crisp and blistering.
  6. While this is happening heat the tray that has the vegetables, spices and liquor on a hob until it starts to boil. Mash the vegetables and add the mustard, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, smoked paprika and brown sugar, stirring constantly. Add more water, or pork - or chicken - stock if necessary to prevent the tray from burning.
  7. Sieve contents into a saucepan and boil on the hob, reducing to a thick gravy consistency, skimming off any fat. Adjust flavour to suit your palate by adding more of the core ingredients.
  8. Remove pork from oven and let sit for 15 to 20 mins, then shred using two forks. (I cheat by cutting the beef into large, thick slices first!) Discard any large pieces of fat.
  9. Place meat in a large saucepan and add the reduced, hot gravy. Let sit for a few minutes.
  10. Remove crackling and let it cool, season to taste.

That's it!

Serve whatever way you like, but I prefer it in a bread roll or or a wrap with mustard coleslaw and bacon jam, with a serving of roast veg, stuffing and the crackling on the side.

It's great the next day in a pie too, just add peas and parboiled potatoes. (Make up a little stock and add it to the mix to keep it moist.)

Kids love it on a sambo for lunch too with tomato sauce and mustard!

It should do you for 4 to 5 meals at the very least, just be sensible about its storage, so it works out great value for money.

Enjoy your cheap meat!

Woo hoo!


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

History: Potato Beer? A Whole New Meaning to 'Mashing In'...

At the risk of overdoing the whole beer history thing here's another curious one that caught my eye during my research...

'NEW BEER FROM POTATOE STALKS - The progress of M. Kircoff, for converting the amylalecus faculae (starch) into sugar, by means of sulphuric acid, has already received some useful applications, but the most useful, is doubtless, the conversion of this sugar into Beer, mingles in a proper quantity of water, set in fermentation and hop'd according to the method of Brewers. This syrup furnishes a beer which is light, brisk, strong, and of an agreeable savor; this refreshing and healthy beverage may be prepared any where; it requires neither mill nor expensive vessels, so that the cultivator and artisan may make it in their dwellings. Already two manufacturers are employed in preparing it in quantities, and the estimate that it will cost them only a sentine the livre. (1/4 d the gallon.) - Journal de Parmacie'

[Carlow Morning Post – 1818 via Carlow Library Local Studies Room]

A hopped potato stalk beer? Any brewers try this or fancy giving it a shot?

Not sure about the whole sulphuric acid bit though...


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

History: Brewing a 'Scotch Ale' in 1837 - More Questions Than Answers?

I came across this today in the library and felt it was postworthy...

'SCOTCH ALE - I would also say a few words on the method of brewing beer, lately introduced from Scotland, which English farmers may find it convenient to adopt. The wort is made and also boiled with the hops, in the usual manner, adding three fourths of an ounce of ising-glass to every hogshead of wort; but instead of cooling it, and adding the yeast to produce fermentation, the hot liquor is put immediately into the cask, and in some days it cools, and then ferments in a peculiar manner, without the addition of any ferment, and in the usual time is found to be converted into an excellent liquor, quite fine and mellow. I am told it generally turns out to be superior to beer brewed in the usual way, at the same time there is a saving of one-fourth part of the malt, three bushels producing as good a cask of beer as four by the old method. - Correspondent of the Buck's Gazette'

[Carlow Sentinel – 1837 via Carlow Library Local Studies Room]

Notwithstanding the fact that I am a not-very-successful homebrewer with a poor understanding of fermentation, I have a few issues with this piece...

Would the near-boiling heat of the wort not kill off any yeast - or other fermentation bacteria - in the barrel and therefore produce a sterile environment? Could yeast re-enter the barrell somehow?

Would this be a Brett, Pedio or Lacto strain?

How would this method actually reduce the quantity of malt required?

Allowing that this is a repost, of a repost, of possible hearsay, from 1837 perhaps something got lost along the way. I'm also aware that this is not the 'normal' definition of a Scotch Ale and I assume here it just means an ale from Scotland ...

I'd be interested in any comments anyone might have on the process and how it could work.


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

History: 'Spontaneous Combustion of Drunkards' - Bloody, Burnt & Blue, with a Twist...

My now regular trawl through the papers in the local library throws up some interesting snippets of information every now and again that distract me from my research. Here is one example that seems too bizarre not to post.

It brought forth images of some kind of vampirical sambuca-like shots with a legion of bloodsuckers lining up to drain the poor rum gorged victim.

Is Bloody, Burnt & Blue a good name?

'SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION OF DRUNKARDS – It appears well authenticated that a confirmed drunkard is as combustible as a powder house, and as liable, every moment of his life, to blow up. His safety only depends upon the contingency of not coming in contact with some material of ignition. Mr. Hanson, a student of medicine at New York, lately tried a curious experiment. A fellow who had drunk two gallons of rum in the five preceding days, came staggering into the office where Mr. H. was a student. Mr. H. told him he was in danger of exploding by spontaneous combustion and persuaded him to be bled, in order to avoid such a tragedy. He was bled, and a lighted match being applied, the blood burnt blue, and continued to burn freely for 30 seconds.'

[Carlow Sentinel – 1836 via Carlow Library Local Studies Room]