Sous-Vide Low-Carb Pulled Pork

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you’re at a barbeque or some other get together when some holier-than-though-vegan* starts telling you about this vegetarian hot dog or burger or something you’ve got to try – “it tastes just like a real burger”. Bullshit. It never tastes like a meat burger. Usually when someone tries to make a veggie burger taste like meat it tastes like wet cardboard. Which isn’t to say there aren’t amazing meatless burger patties out there. There’s plenty of them. They’re spiced and have complex flavours of whatever concoction of veggies and grains are in them. They’re excellent precisely because they aren’t trying to replicate the taste of a dead cow.

It’s with that in mind that I am hesitant to call this recipe Pulled Pork. My intestines just don’t get along with all but the leanest cuts of pork. As much as I want it to work out, pork and I have a forbidden love. Similarly, carbs and I aren’t on the best of terms these days. Put those two failed relationships together and you can understand why fatty cuts of pork slow cooked in liquid sugar (aka BBQ sauce) might not be in my best interest. But pulled pork. Cynthia actually makes a point of eating pulled pork sandwiches when we’re out because she can’t get them at home. Also, because she likes tormenting me. Pulled pork is delicious.

So here we have my attempt at a pulled-pork-like dish (“Hungarian drowned pork”?) that is made from a lean cut of pork I can eat, and with only 1.5TBSP of added sugar for 1KG of meat. Between the tomato sauce and the molasses there’s a total of 30 grams of carbs. That’s less than a thick slice of white bread, spread across 8 servings.

Ingredients (8 servings)

Meat

  • 2.5 pounds (1KG) of lean pork
  • 2 TBSP Hungarian smoked paprika
    • There’s no liquid smoke in this recipe, so the paprika is the only thing providing a smokey flavour; go with a really smoke paprika if you can.
  • 2 TBSP Chili spice
  • 2 TBSP Ground cumin
  • 1 TBSP Ground black pepper

Sauce

  • 1.5 TBSP Date molasses
    • You can use pretty much anything here, fancy molasses or packed brown sugar would work fine
  • 2 TBSP Truvia (stevia blend)
  • 1 C Tomato sauce
  • 1/4 C Apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C Butter
    • In a world raised on low-fat-everything adding butter sounds counterintuitive, but the meat is so lean you need to add some fat or it’s just too dry.

Prepare yourself

Preparation – Meal time minus 25 hours

Start by throwing all the meat seasonings into a mixing bowl.

Slice the meat approximately 1″ thick.

Coat each slice in the spice mix and then put them into your sous-vide bag (does that actually sound better than zip-lock back? I’m not sure it does).

Vacuum seal the bag (I just use the water submersion method) turn on your sous-vide machine, and set it for 160F and 24 hours. Oh wait, I didn’t mention this recipe is totally slow as fuck? Um, sorry, yea, this recipe is a real time commitment. I really hope you didn’t skip reading this step before deciding to make this recipe for dinner an hour from now. If you want pulled pork today, you best start checking google maps for a local BBQ joint.

160F is pretty hot for a sous-vide machine, and you’ll probably need to keep an eye on it and top up the water. I found that my water level dropped about an inch every four hours. So make sure you have plenty of water in there before you go to bed tonight.

Last thing for today, take all the sauce ingredients and toss them with the spices that didn’t stick to the meat and throw them all in a container in the fridge for tomorrow.

Preparation – Meal time minus 1 hour

Did you sleep well? You didn’t wake up panicked in the night thinking that the sous-vide had boiled off all the water and was mere moments away from burning down your house, did you? Good, because that would be silly.

About an hour before meal time, take the sauce ingredients out of the fridge, put them in a pot. Remove the bag-o-pork from the sous-vide water bath, and drain the juices from the bag into the pot.

 

Put the pot on the stove at medium heat. Those juices will need to boil down a bit. You don’t need to stir too frequently, but you don’t want the sauce to stick and burn either.

Taking each piece of meat out of the bag, use two forks to shred the meat. It’s going to be pretty stringy and should separate pretty easily. Throw it all into a big mixing bowl.

Once the sauce has boiled down to a consistency you’re happy with (it doesn’t need to be too thick, there’s a lot of meat to cover), toss it in the mixing bowl and mix everything all around. Make sure everything’s good and coated.

There we go, that’s better

Admittedly, this is still drier than pulled pork from a BBQ joint. You can add more tomato sauce and/or butter if that’s what you want. I won’t judge.

Meal time

Plate with some coleslaw, beans, bread (if you’re into that sort of thing), and enjoy your low carb pulled pork.

Yum

* Now, just in case you think I’m anti-vegan, two of the sides here come from the wonderfully profane vegans over at Thug Kitchen. The coleslaw is in their first book, but it’s also online here. The beans are based on their apple baked beans, also in the first book, but a little Google-Fu finds someone else’s take online here. The last side is Cloud Bread, which I’ll be posting about later.

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