It was my brother’s birthday last weekend and I was lucky enough to spend it at my family’s cottage. Every year we celebrate my bro’s birthday by consuming a few pigs and whole lotta beer. We call it Pig Fest (my family is ever so refined). Sausages, ribs, pulled pork, bacon, pork chops; you name it and we’ve probably served it to mark the occasion. Clearly the movie Babe never really got to my brother; then again no animal related movie ever does. The first time I ever ate venison my brother told me it was Bambi’s mother… I was four and yes, I’m still scared from the experience, although it was infinitely less painful than the time he convinced me that Keens Hot Mustard was butterscotch pudding.
Gotta love siblings, they’re so friendly.
This was the first time we served pulled pork at our annual family pig out and I was left in charge of the preparation. The pressure was on! I knew I had a lot to live up to. We’ve been throwing these shindigs since my brother’s fifteenth birthday and that was… well; I feel like I shouldn’t say or I may find myself being force fed spicy mustard all over again. Anyway, it was a touch risky to add a new item to the menu of such a legendary event, but I persevered and wound up with the deliciousness you see before you now.
I knew going in that the ribs (the pièce de résistance of every pig fest to date) would win out, but I think I gave it my best effort and although I may be slightly biased, I favored the pulled pork over the ribs, but don’t tell my mom. Since the ribs were slathered in Phil’s (an a amazing BBQ joint in San Diego) BBQ sauce, I wanted the pulled pork to be completely different, so I wouldn’t invite anyone to compare the two. I chose to contrast the smoky sweetness of the Phil’s sauce with a vaguely Asian concoction that was sweet, tangy and spicy but in a very different way.
Since pork and fruit of any kind get along like a house on fire, I grabbed a sad little mango languishing in the crisper and went from there. For a touch of spice I threw in some jalapenos and fresh ginger. I added a healthy dose of soy sauce to balance the sweet and enhanced the overall taste with a burst of citrus, courtesy of some lemongrass, a touch of marmalade and a splash of lime juice. Then I simply doused the pork shoulder in this lovely blend and cooked the hell out of it.
Many of my family members ate it all on it’s own, but that was not enough for me. Oh no, I had to take it to the next level. I served this delectable treat in a bun (sadly, this was the only half-way decent bun I could find out in the boonies) and topped it with this coleslaw, which you’ve already met. The creaminess of the coleslaw melted into the saucy pork and the crunch of the pepitas definitely added something special. If at all possible consume both these recipes together… unless you’re not a fan of citrus in which case I wouldn’t make either.
But if you happen to have won a lemon-eating contest at the tender age of fourteen (you may want to forget that tidbit of information) then welcome home! This sandwich was made for you!
Spicy Mango Pulled Pork: Serves 8
6-8 pound bone-in boston butt
1 mango, cubed
5 cloves of garlic
1/8 cup lime juice
2 tbsp pureed lemongrass
3 tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped
3 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I used President’s Choice)
2 tbsp marmalade
2 jalapenos, divided
2 stalks of green onions, sliced
1/8 cup soy sauce (or to taste)
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cups of water
Preheat oven to 300°
In a food processor place mango, garlic, lime juice, lemongrass, ginger, chili sauce, marmalade and one intact jalapeno.
Blend until smooth.
Deseed and dice the second jalapeno.
Pour puree into a medium sized bowl and stir in soy sauce, green onions, diced jalapeno and sesame oil.
Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towel and place it in a large dutch oven.
Pour mango mixture over the meat making sure to get it in every nook and cranny. Add water.
Cover the pot and place it in the center of the oven.
Cook for one hour then turn the pork and spoon the juices over the top.
Repeat for six hours or until the meat comes easily off the bone.
Remove the fat and bone and shred the pork using two forks.
You can serve it right away, but I let mine cool and popped it in the fridge over night and reheated it the next day.
Serve it on it’s own or in a sandwich.