balsamic honey pulled pork & brioche hamburger buns
After more than twenty years of vegetarianism, many cuts and preparations of meat are still new to me. I've had little opportunity to check out pulled pork while eating out; most places don't make a "kind" (my term for meat that has been produced while treating the animals kindly while living - organic, grass-fed, free-range, antibiotic free - the sort of meat I try to eat most often) pulled pork.
But a few weeks ago, I added the meat option onto my Sustainably Farmed Food subscription and last week I received a rather large pork roast from Christiansen's Family Farm. I immediately went to a recently published recipe by a blogger I follow, Just a Taste: Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork.
This was an excellent way to be introduced to the process of making pulled pork; the slow cooker is hands off, so that it could easily be done even on a Wednesday, while I'm away at work. But this time I did make the pork on a Sunday and so also had enough time around the house to make one of my favourite recipes to go with, Light Brioche Hamburger Buns from The Clever Carrot. I simply cannot recommend this recipe highly enough! I've made it three times now and the results are always consistent and lovely.
The crumb is dense but light; just dry and thick enough to stand up to the juiciness of a filling like pulled pork. I have never found a store or even a bakery-bought hamburger bun that I've liked. They're always only tolerated. This is a simple and easy way to exponentially improve any hamburgers or sandwiches.
I had only one hiccup with this meal, although it was a significant one when it comes to juicy, tender meat. The pork ultimately contained these odd, hard pieces, that were a terrible nuisance when eating the sandwiches. They were tiny but consistently spread throughout the meat. One theory, for a while, was that it was because a portion of the honey I added was partially crystallized. But then it warmed in the slow cooker for seven and half hours, which certainly seems enough to counter the concern. I'm now operating under the theory that it could possibly be the seeds from the blackberry jam; though they don't look quite like berry seeds. Hmmmm. I glanced through the comments on Just a Taste's post and didn't see any other complaints, but maybe everyone else who made it was just coincidentially lucky enough to buy seedless jam. The next time I make this - the sauce and the recipe were tasty enough to take the chance of trying again - I will make sure there's no crystallization in the honey and that the jam is seedless.
Although the next time I make pulled pork I may be tempted to try a different method, like braising in the oven, it will be more because I want to see the different results. On the whole, I was pleased with this recipe, and it was a smart sacrifice for an excellent, kind piece of meat.