ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Indian Pulled Pork Sandwiches Edition

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It was 3:30 in the afternoon. I received a message from my friend Bets, who had sent me a recipe for Indian pulled pork sandwiches. “Dude, make this. the picture alone sells me on it,” she wrote. I glanced at the recipe: slow cooked pork? Indian spices? An excuse to use my dutch oven? I was sold. I told Bets I’d gladly oblige her request, but when? “Tonight,” she wrote back eagerly. That worked for me. I had nearly all the ingredients (save mustard seeds). I told her to come on over, and next thing I knew, I was throwing an informal dinner party. On the menu: Indian pulled pork sandwiches with homemade potato chips on the side. In attendance: me, Bets, Lisa Timmons (from Socialite Life and lisatimmons.com, and eventually Jash. And on tap: lots of laughter and jolly good times.
But a question remains: would this third foray into pork be as successful as my other two? Pictures and details after the jump…

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At about 5:30, I assembled my ingredients: a lemon, an onion, some bay leaves, mustard seeds, curry powder, cayenne, diced tomatoes, and beef broth (from concentrate — hence the packets).

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As I have the most sensitive eyes in the world, chopping the onion immediately brought tears to my eyes. You can just barely see one drop on my nostril and another on my cheek.

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Damn, it really stung.

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Anyway, all the braising ingredients went into this bowl for now.

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I then chopped up two pounds of pork and dropped them into the dutch oven with already hot oil.

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Browning!

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Once the pork was adequately browned, I added the other ingredients from the bowl.

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The liquid came to a boil, and then on went the lid, thus commencing the two hour braising process.

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In the meantime, I shaved off some slivers of potato to be made into chips, Ina Garten style. I used a box grater, which was fairly difficult. A mandolin would have been helpful.

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Checkin in on the pork. Still far from being pull-able.

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Here are my potato chips coming out of the oven. Apologies for not including more “process” photos, but my camera had died.

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Not all the chips were crispy; so some got a bonus trip to the toaster oven while a second batch went into the Big Oven. (note to self: never make homemade potato chips ever again)

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Around 7:40 pm, Lisa arrived with homemade muffins!

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Unfortunately, the timing of the meal was all out of whack. I was going to save the potato chips to be eaten with the sandwiches, but the pork was taking too long to tenderize; so the chip were repurposed into an appetizer/hors d’oeuvre. I made an accompanying dipping sauce of mayonnaise, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ground ginger. Needless to say, it was well received.

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When it became apparent that Lisa and I might go through all the potato chips before Bets arrived, I busted out some papadum to snack on too. It actually was a more appropriate dish, what with the Indian theme etc.

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Lisa enjoys her own little slice of Mumbai.

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The chips. Sorry for the blurry photo. Macro FAIL! And yes, I’m aware that they look like some strange hybrid of bacon and fruit roll-ups.

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Bets showed up at around 8 pm, but the pork still wasn’t ready; so we expanded our snack table greatly. First, we brought out that hot pepper paste I raved about the other day. Then, having blazed through all the chips and about six or seven papadum, we opted for a more refreshing (read: less salty) bite. Bets chopped up some cucumber, and we found that dipping it in the mayo-soy-sesame-ginger dip was mildly divine.

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Bets, enjoying the condiments, dips, and assorted snacks.

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Lisa, confounded by two cucumber slices — as one is often wont to be.

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In the throes of cucumber-fueled intensity.

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While I chew my cud and reach for more snacks, Bets offers up a view of a cucumber post-dip, pre-bite.

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Pulled pork is ready! Pulled pork is ready!!!

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I marvel as Bets pulls the pork apart with a wooden spoon. Technically, she was pushing though; so really this was Pushed Pork.

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SHE DONE PUSHED THE PORK!!!

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Pork, mid-pulling, er, pushing. Whatever. You get the point.

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The odors, I might add, were most delightful.

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Further pork shredding.

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I had to add extra curry powder and garam masala to bring out the “Indian” nature of the dish. Didn’t really work. Still tasted good though.

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Okay, now this pork was really ready.

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Bets then took to her role: assembling the sandwiches. She mixed together greek yogurt with cilantro and slathered that on these awesome brioche rolls from Trader Joe’s. She then added some baby greens, a heaping spoonful of the pork, and voila: we had sandwiches.

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Lisa was most excited for the meal.

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Yum. I’m only sad that I’m not a better food photographer because I really don’t do it justice sometimes.

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Bets sinks her teeth into the sandwich (although, it kind of looks like she’s just sniffing it.)

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She seems to enjoy it.

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Now Lisa takes a big ol’ juicy bite.

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Further approval. We all agreed that the pulled pork on its own was very good, but the yogurt and baby greens (and cucumbers, which we forgot to add until midway through) really elevated the whole dish.

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At last I get to have my way with the sandwich.

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I believe an “om nom nom nom” is in order. (And note the small speck of pork falling to the plate)

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Oh, it’s good.

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I think this picture best sums up the experience.

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Errant brioche.

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Soon, all that’s left are dishes.

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Remnants of the sandwich assembly station.

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No dinner would be complete without something sweet at the end. The three of us and Jash headed over to Cantaloop, home of self-serve frozen yogurt. Take THAT, Pinkberry! (Apologies to Lisa — we totally forgot about her muffins.)

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Ultimately, a great time was had by all. Good food, good banter, and good blogging.

As you can tell, the sandwiches were a major hit, but I would warn that if you attempt to make the Indian pulled pork, remember to be very liberal with the curry powder. The tomatoes have a very strong flavor, and the spice can get a little lost in it. That being said, it all tasted quite good — strong Indian flavors or no. Just remember to serve the pork on good bread and definitely include some sort of yogurt topping if you can. The acidic brightness really opens up the entire dish.
Oh, and as for the oven baked potato chips — don’t make them unless you have a mandolin. A box grater is too difficult, and the slices come out inconsistently, which means that some chips come out crispy while others remain flaccid. I mean, they all taste great, but it’s a lot of work — and because the potato slices can’t overlap on the baking sheet, you have to do several, several batches to work through just one potato (and each batch takes twenty-five minutes).