Happy Birthday Dad, [almost]!
I swear that this recipe has nothing to do with my personal love and veneration of Thai cuisine and everything to do with making something nice, spicy, and meaty for Dad.
I know, how thoughtful of me.
Just because my kindness happens to come through via my Thai-food obsession, it doesn’t mean that this post is about me.
It’s my way of celebrating Dad’s birthday and definitely the best way I know to give gifts. Edible gifts, foods that are gifts, gifts that can be used to make food, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…
So this is my way of saying — through the language of food — HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
And if this gifting opportunity for Dad doubles as a chance for me to have Thai-flavored pulled pork sandwiches, it’s totally a win-win situation.
Here’s the thing about me and pulled pork.
I could usually do fine without it. Mostly because I tend to forget that there’s such a thing as pulled pork and partially because some sticky and spicy chicken generally does it for me.
But then I remember that there is a method of cooking pork where what would otherwise be a tough cut of meat is cooked slowly at low temperatures, and the meat becomes so tender that it literally falls apart and can be easily "pulled".
This time I slow cooked it with Thai red curry paste and then I added a bunch of herbs, spices, and coconut milk and THEN topped it with cucumbers, red onions, and chopped cilantro and served it up on some badass GF sesame seed buns (but for Dad and Mom and the rest of my family they’re going to be brioche buns, of course).
Like WHOA. I can feel myself about to Thai dance.
Much like the notorious Chicken Tikka Masala we made a few years back, this is one of those recipes that allows the cook to enjoy a few hours of games and fun while the whole thing basically cooks itself.
And I can definitely think of one person who might enjoy a little bit of my extra time and attention on his birthday, pre-face-stuffing of the Thai-Style Pulled Pork sandwiches…
Thai-Style Pulled Pork Print this recipe!
Heavily downsized and streamlined from Food and Wine Magazine’s fantastic recipe
⅓ cup Thai red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen)
¼ cup fish sauce (I used Red Boat)
6 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
4 lbs boneless pork shoulder (with fat cap)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 shallots, peeled and halved
1 Bird’s eye chili (optional)
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, white parts only, cut into three pieces
1 ½-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (or 10 cardamom seeds)
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves separated
1 (13.5 oz / 400 ml) can full fat coconut milk (I used BPA-free Natural Value)
⅓ cup chicken stock
A handful mint leaves, chopped
A handful Thai basil leaves (or regular basil), chopped
Mayonnaise for spreading (make your own paleo mayo with this recipe)
Your fave buns (I used sesame seed gluten-free buns)
Cucumber, red onion, and additional cilantro for serving
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C) and place a rack in the middle.
In a small saucepan simmer the curry paste, fish sauce, and 4 tablespoons of sugar over low heat. Stirring until a smooth paste forms.
Set aside to cool slightly.
Season the pork with salt and rub it all over with the curry paste.
Set the roast in a large cast-iron casserole. Cover and roast, basting every now and then with the pan juices, until the meat is very tender, about 3½ hours.
Transfer the pork to a large bowl and let rest for 15 minutes. With two forks pull the pork until shredded.
Skim the fat from the pan juices, then stir the juices into the shredded pork. Cover and keep warm.
In a food processor combine garlic cloves, shallots, chili (if using), lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cilantro stems, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pulse until a smooth paste forms.
Heat the cilantro paste in a large saucepan over medium-heat for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add coconut milk and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the pulled pork and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
Stir in mint and basil. Keep warm.
Spread mayo on the buns and top with pulled pork, cucumber, onions, and cilantro leaves.
Serve with lime wedges.
One serving (without bun, mayo, and toppings) yields 440 calories, 25 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, 35 grams of protein.