What is the one ingredient required to make food truly nutritious? What is that one thing that make food a home cooked meal v/s a plate of food? It's love. Pure simple love, that's what makes food great.
I think a huge part of my infatuation with food as nourishment comes from my true deep respect and admiration for the proceses of giving and taking of life that goes into it. Understanding how things grow, why things grow, having planted the vegetables, having put my own blood, sweat, and tears into cultivating and harvesting these things gives me a great appreciation for what they are truly worth. Having raised livestock, mended fences, spent steaming hot days in a hayfield those things make me truly respect and appreciate what every bit of food on my plate really is, where it came from, and what sacrifices across the board had the be made to provide this nourishment. You can be assured that when I see someone throw away food, I get angry. Yes I usually clean my plate, lick the bowl after I'm done cooking, and eat more than my share when it's available, but that is because I truly respect where this food came from, what it is, and the life forces that was taken from it in order to pass that nourishment on. You see, that my friends is a healthy relationship with food, that is a healthy relationship with your soul, with your spirit, with the earth, with yourself, it's a true understanding of the ecosystem that we are a part of, not that we are above or below, but that is a part of us and we a part of it. And you can also rest assured that when I prepare a meal from this food, having this basic philosophy about what this truly is and represents that the love and respect that I pass along through the preparation will be cooked directly into the food and be transferred to those of whom I share my meal with, when people ask my the secret to making the delicious meals that I provide, I always tell them that my secret ingredient is not so secret, that it is love.....
My infamous Pulled Pork:
This meal is a slow cooked bit of awesomeness that leaves the tastebuds in disbelief after the nirvana that they experience. I go back and forth with whether I prefer my pulled pork to be first cooked in the roaster in the over, or outside on the smoker, of course I prefer cooking with real fire, outdoors, the primalness that that entails and releases is in and of itself a great reason to cook that way, but I discovered this amazing trick of recooking the juices and fats back into the pork that originally melt off and it is much easier to capture all of these juices in a roaster in the over than it is oven than in the smoker, as well as requires a lot less monitoring and checking when you let this thing cook overnight. That being said if you can do it, and have the time and energy, cook this thing in the smoker, but make sure you do it in a roaster or something you can catch all the melting juices in.
Step 1 for me is to pick out a nice meat pork shoulder with a healthy portion of fat around the solid muscles, was this pork shoulder down, coat it with a yellow natural mustard (read ingredients carefully, there should be no chemicals or sugars in mustard, so don't get tricked into some brand that stuffs them in there for no good reason. Once I have the shoulder covered with mustard I turn it fat side up in the roaster and shake on a dry rub of cajun spices and turmeric to the outside and then chop up some fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme and spread it across the upper level as well. Now this fat will melt away as this cooks down, but thats the idea it spreads all these loving herbs and spices across the rest of the meat as it melts and then we are going to capture all the liquid version and reuse it to cook the home made sauce back in once we pull the pork. Now what I do next is also key, I take 4 to 6 fresh apples and clive them into 8'ths and place them all around the pork in the roaster. This fresh cooked apple and juice will really flavor the heck out of this pork.
Now I set the over at 225 and let it go until morning, usually around 8 hours before i check it, when I check it I am trying to verify the internal temperature is appropriate. Once I find out the pork is cooked to the appropriate temperature I break it out of the over and start shredding it. Grabbing it with two large oven forks works well, whatever you use it should fall apart fairly easy. You want to shred it up to the consistency of pulled pork and keep it all waiting.
Then comes the fun part making the sauce and cooking the sauce back into the pork.
What I do for this is take all the juice that cooked off into the roaster and dump it into a large stock pot, I add some local honey or maple srup and fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and two quarts of tomato juice. and just a kiss of apple cider vinegar. I bring this all to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally, when the simmer is going down that's when you take the now pulled pork and drop it into the simmering sauce for a few minutes and remove it, and its awesome. I do this over and over until the pork seems to be too wet from the samples. and then I trade places by dumping any excess juice back into the pot, and repeat until all the meat has had the juice cooked back into it.
I can detail out more specifics if you like, but that is the gist of it.