From the Acid chapter, which was the most eye-opening for me because of this statement: “Acidic liquids heighten flavor,” and: ”It is second only to salt in its potential for elevating the flavors of your cooking.” I can honestly say I never thought about acid that way and he’s absolutely right. It really made me think differently about my cooking.
And I guess I’m not alone because Ruhlman says that understanding the importance of acid was his first “ah-ha” moment in culinary school (he also throws in a Dickens reference here lest we forget he also went to “real” college. Well, Duke anyway).
Like other flavor enhancers you (and I) might not realize what acid is doing for our food because it should be added in small enough quantities so that it doesn’t read as acidic; all you should notice is that food tastes “brighter.” This is why pickles taste good on hamburgers and why many sauces and soups are finished with a teaspoon or two of lemon juice.
In the acid family are the obvious members like vinegar, citrus juices and pickled fruits and vegetables but you can also use sour fruits (green tomatoes), wine, mustard, even yogurt or goat cheese (ok, I don’t believe that about the goat cheese but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt). Of all of these, however, lemon juice is the most versatile with vinegar coming in a close second. And don’t stress out about white vs. red wine vinegar; quality is more important than color.
In this dish, cider vinegar is not just an accent but the base of barbeque sauce and provides a nice, sharp contrast to the delicious fattiness of the pork. I’m not going to open the can of worms that is Northern-barbeque vs. Southern-barbeque. It’s been debated to death and, seriously? why chose? It’s a big tent people.
This was a great recipe and so straightforward. You sear the pork shoulder over direct heat on the grill, then cook it on the cool side for 30 minutes, then into the oven it goes with half the sauce for 6-8 hours. Shred it, add more sauce and throw it on a bun.
Pulled Pork with Eastern North Caroline Barbeque Sauce is on page 97 of Ruhlman’s Twenty and right here on his site.