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Recipe du Jour: Pulled Pork and Waffles

This entry is part of a series, RdJ»

Belgian Waffles

Some of you may know of the great Southern comfort-food dish, Chicken and Waffles. (It’s actually German/Dutch in origin!) If not, I bet many of you know about pulled pork, as barbeque or in sandwiches. It’s not required that this meat be “barbeque style” with sauce, and we often prepare it for other dishes. One of our favorite versions is to make open-face, hot pork sandwiches with plenty of zesty gravy.

Today we’re having pulled pork and waffles. Kind of a fusion dish, mixing the chicken-and-waffles concept with pulled pork that’s ready for pork sandwiches. Paula Jo thought it up after watching a Bobby Flay Throwdown. (Okay, it’s been done before; as street cart food, and not very well publicized.) She tasked me with coming up with the actual dish, then she left town.

Didn’t want to interfere with my creative processes by helping out, I guess.

First I researched the waffles. Our lovely daughterperson had received a high-quality, Waring Pro Belgian Waffle Maker for Christmas a couple of years back, but the poor appliance hadn’t seen much action. She’s off to college and there’s only so much stuff she has room for, so the Waring stayed in the cabinet.

I thought, with this level of technology available making waffles would be a snap. So the question was, what kind? I finally settled on a whole-wheat version, with slightly less sweet taste than usual. After all, these will be going into an ultimately savory dish, not a dessert or sweet breakfast.

Before waffles, though, I had to get the roast ready. I made a big pile of zesty-hot rub: Ancho chile powder, Kashmiri chile powder, some hot Madras curry powder, a bit each of smoked paprika and chipotle powder, plenty of garlic powder, some powdered chicken bouillon, and finally, a bunch of dried Italian herbs. Cracked black pepper too, but no added salt. Easier to season the meat at serving time.

Boston Butt

I took an 8-lb, bone-in pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt) and washed and dried it. I put the roast, fat side down, on a big rack. With the rub in a large metal bowl, I added olive oil until I had a smearable paste. Then, using my hands (there’s no way to avoid the mess), I rubbed the smear all over the meat. I turned the roast over onto a rack fitted into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Then I used the rest of the seasoning paste to coat the fat side of the roast.

I popped that pretty pork into the oven, uncovered, at 475° F for about 25 minutes, to give it a nice sear. Then I turned the oven down to 225° while I built a foil tent to cover the meat. I got the cover on the baking dish, and I wasn’t too worried that it wasn’t down completely tight. A little evaporation would cause trouble! I put the roast back in the oven and went to bed; it was nearly midnight by this time.

At ten the next morning I took the finished roast out and let it cool completely to room temperature, without even taking a peek under the foil. I called PJ and told her that dinner would be ready at 7 PM, so she’d not linger at the Ranch. (It worked; pulled pork is the only inducement I’ve ever found that would actually get her to be anything but Very Fashionably Late.)

While she was traveling home I got the mise en place done. Here’s the waffle cast I chose:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (NOT soda!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Truvia sweetener packets (the individual size)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk (1%, although most any would do)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

I used Truvia because I didn’t want sugar, and I hate the taste of Splenda. If you use sugar, the a tablespoon or so should be plenty for this batch. Any more and the waffles may be too sweet and not complementary to the pork. Your choice (and taste), though.

BBQ Pork Sandwich

Paula Jo showed, and her best friend as well. I guess word was on the street! The ladies went to work shredding the pork while I made zesty gravy from the pan drippings. Here’s how I do that:

First, separate the oil from the water. Using about 3 tablespoons of the red oil, I made a roux with 3 tablespoons of flour. While the roux was bubbling (cooking the water out of the flour) I opened a can of low-sodium chicken broth and got some milk ready. When the roux was just right I poured in the broth and some milk, then stirred like crazy with a gravy whisk. As the sauce came to a boil I adjusted the liquid content to make a nice, soft sauce, not too thick. I put in some cracked black pepper and just a bit of salt.

This gravy is a very spicy topping! If you don’t like that much zest, then use less roast oil and replace with olive oil. You can also use some of the water-layer pan drippings to add more flavor if you’d like; just add it when you do the broth. The reason this gravy comes out spicy is, the oil removes almost all of the capsaicin from the spices while the roast cooks. Indeed, the black crust of the roast has almost no chile taste at the end! It went into the pan drippings.

We saved the leftover drippings for gravy the next few evenings. That much roast, we’ll get several dinners! The pulled pork can be served over bread (with gravy), in salads, or stirred with barbeque sauce and eaten as pulled pork sandwiches. Lots of choices.

The waffles came out great, and topped with pork and gravy it was tasty. An interesting combo! The only thing I might try different next time is to have some cooked, spiced apples (or applesauce) as a side dish…

Enjoy the (Novel Pulled Pork Dish) Heat!

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