Signs I’m too busy:

  • I lose the dog’s leash;
  • I toss the cap to the olive oil;
  • I don’t make the beds;
  • I forget about dinner.

We have an emergency leash for the dog. A tight piece of plastic wrap keeps the olive oil clean. And no one (except me) cares about unmade beds.

But dinner? That’s when the family starts yelping.

This weekend I pulled a pork shoulder out of the freezer in hopes of making barbecued pork. I love to brine the meat before slow-cooking it. The brine infuses the pork with an herby, salty depth of flavor we sorely miss whenever I skip that step.

Unfortunately, I defrosted the meat too late. With no time to brine, I began searching for shortcuts.

pork rubThis rub saved our sliders. In fact, it was almost better than a brine: Salty, sweet and spicy, it hit all the flavor profiles that we love best about slow-roasted pork shoulder.

I may start using this as my default cooking method.

It’ll give me time to make the beds.

No-Time Pork ‘Brine’

The genesis of this recipe comes from “The Essential New York Times Cook Book.’ Feel free to mess around with the seasonings of your choice. Just keep a 1:1:1 ratio among them.

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 3-pound boneless pork shoulder
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 bunch fresh herbs (I used tarragon)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

In a bowl, combine the salt, sugar, pepper and paprikas. Rub all over the pork shoulder.

Whisk 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the mustard, the apple juice and garlic in a slow cooker. Add the herbs, then set the pork shoulder on top of the mixture. Cover the slow-cooker and cook on the low setting for 8 hours.

When done, remove the meat and let it cool slightly.

Pour the cooking liquid into a glass measuring cup. Spoon off the fat.

Place about half of the cooking liquid in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar and the Dijon mustard. Whisk to incorporate.

When the liquid is boiling, add about half of the cornstarch/water mixture. Let the sauce thicken. Add more of the cornstarch and water if you’d like a thicker sauce. Taste. If the sauce is too vinegary for your liking, tame it with a bit of apple juice or more of the pork’s cooking liquid.

Shred the pork, then toss with the sauce. Serve plain or on sandwich rolls.

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