Well hello, Friday night food perfection! If bone-sticking, bad-but-good comfort food is what you’re craving (and who isn’t at the end of a long hard week?), my sticky BBQ pulled pork recipe, teamed with my three cheese macaroni and cheese recipe is spot on. Cause what’s better than pulled pork and mac and cheese? Pulled pork and mac and cheese together, AMIRIGHT?
The pork element takes a bit of time – low and slow, people, low and slow – but it’s still minimum fuss. The macaroni cheese is easy peasy. This was the first time I’d made a simple mac n cheese, actually, usually opting for a more elaborate and ingredient-packed option when it comes to pasta. But when you’re planning to layer it on top of pulled pork, which has been soaked in wine and soy and Siracha and sugar, a basic cheesy pasta is all that’s needed.
For the pork, I used my slow cooker (get one – they’re super cheap and mean you can bung a load of stuff in it before you go to work and return home to falling-apart meat and juicy veg that’s perfectly cooked with no effort on your part), but you can do it in the oven too. Just follow the below instructions but pop the marinade and meat in a deep baking tray and cover with foil. You won’t need to cook for quite so long either, prob around 4 hours. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but you’ll have a lot of it kicking around in your cupboard anyway and it’s totally worth getting a few extra bits if you don’t.
I also cooked each of these delicious layers separately and then presented them one on top of the other because I was hell bent on using my adorable new casserole dishes. They’re mini! And they’re cream! Which matches my growing assortment of kitchen gadgets and crockery. Look how cute they are (staged next to an avocado for size!). But if you’re less particular about serving things in miniature, serve up the pulled pork in one big pot, dish or casserole and pour the mac and cheese over it before doing the last 20-minute bake in the oven.
Either way, my pulled pork topped with three cheese macaroni cheese is salty-sweet, filling, unctuous and not even a bit healthy. You’re welcome. And happy Friday!
For the pork:
1 kg pork shoulder, skin on
Salt and pepper
3 medium onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, whole and peeled, 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli
1/2 glass red wine
20g golden caster sugar
For the mac and cheese:
170g macaroni pasta
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 tablespoon plain flour
120g extra mature cheddar, grated
50g Gruyere, grated
50g Parmesan, grated
Firstly, rub the pork with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and seal each side in a hot pan. This shouldn’t take more than 6/7 minutes – you just want to take away the pink, not cook it. Once sealed, pop it in your slow cooker with the wine and turn on high while you do everything else.
In the pan you used to seal the meat, add the onions and fry for 10 minutes. Make sure you’re scraping up all of the sticky meaty bits when you’re stirring the onions! Then add all of the garlic, fry for a few minutes and add the chilli, Siracha, soy sauce and Henderson’s relish. Cook for another 5 minutes and then add half of the caster sugar. Cook for another 5 minutes – the mixture should be a bit tar-like and smelling quite sweet – then pour it into the slow cooker. Turn the meat a couple of times to make sure it has been covered with the marinade, add the rest of the sugar and then squash it down into the liquid so the lid of the slow cooker is flat. Switch the dial to low and leave for about 5 hours.
An hour before the pork is ready, get back in that kitchen. Add the macaroni to a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 7 minutes. While that’s cooking melt the butter in a saucepan with the garlic and mustard. The trick here is to never stop stirring. Add the flour and stir until you have a thick yellow paste. Start adding the milk, a splash at a time, continually stirring. Did I mention to keep stirring!? Once all of the milk has been added you’ll have a very thin yellow liquid. You need to stir (yep, I told ya) quite fast for another 5 minutes until it thickens. It seems like it won’t get there, but have faith, it will.
Once thickened, add all of the cheddar and Gruyere and half of the Parmesan and stir. Then stir in the pasta. Pour into an oven-proof dish, sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan and bake for 20 minutes at 180.
By this point the pork should be close to done – take it out of the slow cooker and pop on a plate. It should be falling apart a bit, which is handy because it’ll be easy to slice the skin off of it. Put the skin to one side and put the pork back into the slow cooker, using two forks to pull it into chunks inside the pot. Leave the lid off and whack the cooker up to high for the remaining cooking time.
Cut the skin into uneven slithers (it should be quite soft and jelly-like), sprinkle with salt and lay on a sheet of tin foil on a baking tray. Grill for 5 minutes, check, and if you’re looking for something a bit darker or crunchier, keep grilling, a few minutes at a time, until you’re happy.
When it’s time to serve, spoon all of the pork out of the cooker and into a bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons of BBQ sauce and keep pulling the meat apart as you go. Then layer it into your mini casserole dishes (or bowls or plates, whatever..) and drizzle with a little bit of the liquid from the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer the macaroni cheese on top – don’t be shy, pile it high – sprinkle with any cheese crumbs you’ve got floating around and finish with a few bits of crispy crackling. You might want to serve it with something green, like a salad or a side of avo, but really, it’s all about the pork and cheese.