Ham Hock Pulled Pork with Sweet Roasted Tomato BBQ Sauce

   When I talked in yesterday’s post about how my homemade ketchup recipe was a simple evolution of my Roasted Tomato Sauce, I decided to take the condiment/sauce evolution to the next logical step: barbecue sauce. Many southern US barbecue sauces have ketchup as a base and spike it with any number of ingredients: molasses, mustard, soy sauce, various spices and vinegars. I decided to do a simple addition of honey and blackstrap molasses (amidst the middle of my annual Christmas baking, I have a ton of blackstrap molasses around to do gingerbread cookies).

   With the barbecue evolution, I wanted to have something to pair with it. Since maintaining a low n slow barbecue is rather difficult in wintry northern Canada, I opted to do a twist on slow cooker pulled pork, using a ham hock in the pot to add its inherent smokiness to the mix and enrich the barbecue sauce.

ROASTED TOMATO BBQ SAUCE

1 kg/2 lb Doef’s Greenhouses tomatoes on the vine, halved

1 medium August Organics, onion, peeled, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

4 Tbsp Coal Lake Honey Farms mixed flower honey

3 Tbsp vinegar (I use a pickling vinegar because it has a slightly higher acidity than other vinegars so a little goes a long way)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp, each, sweet Hungarian paprika, garlic powder, prepared mustard (I use homemade), blackstrap molasses and cocoa powder

2 tsp salt.

   Preheat oven to 185C/375F.

   In a large roasting pan, sprinkle with oil and chopped onion. Top with the tomato halves and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the tomatoes and roast for another 15 minutes until the skin starts to darken slightly. Transfer the tomatoes, onions and its juices to a blender and purée until smooth. Transfer this purée to a medium pot, add the honey, vinegar, nutmeg, paprika, mustard, molasses, cocoa powder and salt. Stir over medium heat and as it comes to a simmer, cover with the lid slightly askew and stir occasionally as it simmers for about 30 minutes until thickened. Makes about 2-3/4 cups.

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HAM HOCK PULLED PORK

2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

1 kg/2 lb Sunshine Organic pork shoulder

1 kg/2 lb Sunshine Organic nitrate-free smoked ham hock

1 cup August Organics chopped onion

1 Tbsp Peas On Earth minced garlic

2 cups chicken stock (I use homemade)

2 cups Roasted Tomato BBQ Sauce

   In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat until it starts to smoulder but not quite smoke. Sear the pork shoulder on all sides until dark brown.

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   Place the onions, garlic and chicken stock at the bottom of the pot of a slow cooker. Add the seared pork shoulder and ham hock. Top with the Roasted Tomato BBQ Sauce and rub both the pork shoulder and ham hock with the sauce.

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   Turn the slow cooker on low and simmer for 10 hours. The meat of the ham hock and the pork shoulder should be so soft that it falls apart easily.

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   Pull the pork shoulder and ham hock out of the simmering juices and allow to cool on a platter.

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   Pour the simmering juices in a 4 cup measuring cup, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. This solidifies the settling fats at the top and allows for easy removal of this excess fat if desired. This fat could be used to augment a mac n cheese sauce or in place of butter on toasted buns to serve the pulled pork later.

   Peel the skin off the ham hock and shred with your fingers, along with the pork shoulder into a large bowl.

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   Place the skimmed juices in a wide-bottomed pan and reduce over medium high heat for 7-10 minutes. Add the pulled pork and ham hock meat, taking out any large chunks of fat if desired, and simmer with the sauce for a few minutes just to heat through.

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   Serve on toasted buns with any number of favourite Southern-style sides like Csabai Maple Baked Beans, or Sausage Multigrain Hushpuppies

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