There’s nothing like the smell of roasting pork. Add a heap of spicy flavours like paprika and fennel seeds and it takes you away to another place. With winter banging on our doors, the need for easy, slow cooking comfort food is high. I love how this meal fills the house with a warm spicy aroma.
There’s a bit of fuss in the preparation with all the soaking and rubbing, but there’s nothing as satisfying as plonking bowls of steaming yummy meat on the table and letting everyone go mad for it. I usually allow two rolls per serve, but with a teenage son, this often translates to four (or six!).
Roasted pulled pork
- 100 ml molasses
- 50 g sea salt
- 1.5 L water
- 1 kg pork (shoulder or loin)
- 1 Tablespoon (Tbs) fennel seeds
- 1 Tbs cumin seeds
- 1 Tbs coriander seeds
- ½ Tbs chilli flakes (optional)
- 2 Tbs onion powder
- ¼ cup sweet paprika
- 8 soft bread rolls
- ½ cup BBQ sauce – I prefer the smokey ones
- 1 cabbage, finely sliced
- 2 medium sized carrots, grated
- ½ cup coleslaw dressing
- Remove any rind from the pork (keep it!) and trim of any obviously vastly excess fat (a little fat will definitely help keep it moist while baking). Cut the pork into manageable pieces (about 250 g to 300 g chunks).
- Combine molasses, salt and water in a large bowl or pyrex dish and submerge the pork.
- Seal container and allow to marinade in the fridge overnight (turning once).
- Heat oven to 160°C (140°C fan forced).
- Remove pork from the brine and pat dry using paper towels.
- Dry roast the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan over a medium heat.
- Combine all the spices in a food processor and blend until powdery (or use a mortar and pestle), then rub into the pork, getting it into all surfaces. You can add chilli powder or flakes to the mix here if you want it spicier (I tend to omit when making this for the kids).
- Place the pork and the crackling in a roasting tray and roast for two hours or so uncovered (turning meat about half way through) until cooked through.
- Remove pork, transfer to a ceramic or glass bowl and let it cool for about five minutes.
- At this stage, I turn up the oven to about 220°C (200°C fan forced) and give the crackling a blast (ten to fifteen minutes) to crisp up.
- Using forks, pull the pork apart while it is still hot (see hint below). Let it rest another ten minutes, then mix.
- Make the coleslaw by combining the cabbage, carrot and dressing.
- Serve in buns, with coleslaw and BBQ sauce (and crackling on the side – because it’s too good to waste!).
It’s important that the pork is cooked through and tender, but not overcooked. If it overcooks, it can dry out and become impossibly difficult to pull apart using forks.
If you find the pork is too dry to easily pull apart using forks, then ten minutes with a stand mixer and a sauce made from about 150 ml of hot water and some of the scrapings from the roasting tray can fix things. Use the sauce to loosen the meat as you shred it apart using the dough hook or mixing paddle on a stand mixer (this is a good option too if you find the meat too hot to handle).