Not the most obvious of bedfellows are they?
Indeed, part way though this rather unusual mission, they don't look the most appetising of bedfellows either.
But, give it time, a low heat and a few hours and the results are pretty damn good.
Next week sees us hosting a bit of a lunch party for several of the family. Thanks to recent, and not so recent moves, we now find ourselves at around the midpoint for my dad and stepmum (who live on the Kent coast) and my sister and nephews (who live in Wiltshire). So for the last few weeks I've been thinking about what cook for a three generational family feast. We wanted informal. We wanted to showcase some of our veg, now that the allotment is hitting its summery stride. We needed dishes that would appeal to the healthier minded and a nephew who, potentially, will still ignore it all and have a cheese and tomato pizza instead.
Somehow, that evolved in my odd culinary mind as sort-of-Mexican. My obsession with the Cool Chile Company's excellent products, from the frying tortillas to the black bean kit, is well documented on this site. I figured a load of those, assorted trimmings, some guacamole, etc would make for a fun, light, interactive lunch. I also thought a huge bowl of homegrown greenery and our own potato salad would give some flexibility. We just needed a meaty option that would straddle the two worlds too. And for some reason that turned into an obsession for pulled pork.
While gleefully sniggersome, pulled pork is a fine and versatile dish. Tender, bursting with flavour, delicious hot or cold, as at home with greenery and potato salad as it is topping a crisp, fresh, still warm tortilla... Yes, indeed, this was to be the dish for me. While the domestic collection of recipe books couldn't provide a recipe, at the back of my mind lurked Niamh's Lomo con Leche recipe. Hmm, I figured, that could be the start of something. And so, armed with a lump of very cheap pork shoulder from Waitrose, I decided to give it a shot.
Which is when, somewhat inevitably, I realised that, while we had milk aplenty, we'd run out of cinnamon. Also, while Niamh's recipe looks subtle and delicious, I wanted something a little more down home and feisty, like I'd had in Nashville and Kentucky. That's when I went online and discovered The Hungry Mouse's recipe for Pulled Pork... and also realised I didn't have Coca Cola or condensed milk.
That's why, a couple of weeks ago, you'd have found me attempting to combine the two dishes with what we had. Sugar and cider brandy stood in for the sweetness of the Coke, milk and a dash of nutmeg stood were the compromise between the other key ingredients. The results? Actually pretty good for a first attempt / winged version.
But all week I couldn't shake the notion of condensed milk and Coca Cola and so, last weekend, I had a proper stab at Hungry Mouse's dish with a discounted leg joint we picked up late at the supermarket. It's not, as she so rightly says, the most appealing dish you've ever seen initially or, indeed, at the end when you take it out of the oven.
but give it a few hours, when attempts to fish out the pork joint leads to the fat slipping off the meat with a satisfying "whump", and when the meat itself falls apart into soft, yielding strands of goodness between your fingers, and you'll be glad you pushed through the potential nausea.
The verdict? Both were delicious - and (almost inevitably) better after a day or two - although both needed a little more piquancy to really bring out the flavours. A coriander-heavy guacamole such as Thomasina Miers' one also helps. While you can get the extra heat from the sauce you add / stir through, I'm going to try marinating the "real" version for a day or two before the slow cook in some dried chilli, sugar, onions, maybe a little cider brandy, and perhaps up the chipotle quotient for that delicious smokiness. If it works, full recipe in due course.