Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apple of my eye

This is my son, Joseph. He is 3 feet of pure energy. Whoever said perpetual motion was impossible never met my kid. If we could harness what makes him go, we could end our dependence on foreign oil.

I'm not entirely sure what it is that makes him tick. I know that right now, a large part of his energy source is apples. He loves them. He eats them in any way, shape or form. He likes them with pork roast, or baked in apple cake, or roasted into a chunky baked sauce, but he's really a purist at heart. He particularly likes them stolen whole out of a big basket when he thinks no one is looking.

And if one apple is good, two apples are obviously better.

Oh, and if you come to my house, and feel like an apple, make sure you take a good look at it before you take a bite. He likes to stake his claim, taking a surreptitious bite, before putting it back in the fruit bowl for later. I try to stay on top of this, but he's stealthy.

He also has a special place in his heart for apples in their liquid form. Fresh cider from Way Fruit Farm in Stormstown, PA is his new best friend. (It used to be my favorite fall indulgence. This year, I have yet to finish a cup. Someone keeps drinking it when I'm not looking.)

And so, for Joseph, I give you my favorite recipe for pulled pork. With apples. Because it's damn good together.

First, you take a pork roast. I don't care what cut it is, except to say tenderloin is a complete waste of money here. Where other cuts will get more buttery and succulent as they cook, tenderloin will go from juicy to tough to sawdust, an unappetizing progression. So get yourself a nice hunk of cheap pig and throw it in the crockpot with lots of pepper and some salt. Then slice up one onion and one large tart apple. I like Cortlands, but Granny Smith is good, too. Add them to the roast with a cup of good cider. (Will apple juice work? Yes. So will a can of beer. But I think cider gives the best flavor.) Cook on low heat for 8 hours. Or longer. I like to put mine on before bed on a Friday night and by gametime on Saturday, I'm ready to eat pulled pork while I watch the Nittany Lions.

When it's done, shred with forks and return to the crockpot. This is where you can get creative. Some barbecue sauce is good. So is some spicy mustard and honey. But my favorite way to enjoy this is with just a few tablespoons of brown sugar, which plays up both the sweetness of the cider and the richness of the meat. It's good on crusty rolls, plain white bread, on a hot dog bun sharing star billing with a smoked sausage. But it's also good spread on a pizza crust, topped with some jack (or pepper jack) cheese, and cut into thick, drippy wedges.

It might give you as much energy as Joseph. And if you get that much energy, let me know. You can babysit.

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