Remember 2 weeks ago when the sun was shining? It was hot and bright and London glowed and the whole world seemed alive with possibilities. On one of those hot and steamy evenings I met @shedlikesfood for an impromptu dinner.
My friendship with Shed is for all intensive purposes a quarterly one – which usually ends in deep personal bonding of the ‘I-LOVE-YOU-MAN’ type (usually negroni-fueled) and then we go our own ways for 3 months and then meet again, pick up where we left off, download each others lives and then meet again in 3 months and so on and so forth.
Our palate’s that evening demanded FRESH and SALAD and OUTDOORS and other green words like this and it seemed inevitable we would end up at The Modern Pantry off Clerkenwell road. Its a restaurant I love for 3 main reasons: 1) It has a female head chef 2) she cooks in an unpretentious and utterly original way you can’t find anywhere else and 3) its close to my work and has outdoor seating.
Our meal was as great as I’ve come to expect from the MP. It involved such unconventional combinations as cuttlefish ink laksa, pulled pork and quinoa salad, scallops with parsnip puree, crispy pork belly with plaintain, gooseberry eton mess all distinguished by Anna Hansen’s unique ability to take a dish, add 7 ingredients more than you think should work and create something really surprising and delicious.
Shed and I ate, dished on life, love and food and went on our merry way. But that dinner has stayed with me – and a week later when I was trying to decide what to do with a kilo of pork shoulder on a jubilee weekend afternoon, it was the spirit of Anna Hansen that led me to this dish. A warm salad of chipotle and brown sugar pulled pork, avocado, grated caroot, flash-pickled red onions, romaine lettuce, cilantro and quinoa.
Warm Chipotle Pulled Pork Salad with Quinoa, Avocado and Pickled Onions
For the pulled pork:
1kg pork shoulder
4 chipotle peppers in adobo (chopped) and 2 Tbsps sauce
3 cloves garlic
50ml white wine vinegar
brown sugar to taste
Brown the pork shoulder in oil, then add garlic, chipotle peppers, water and vinegar and simmer for 1-2 hours, checking liquid as you go. When the pork is tender and pulls easily, remove it from the liquor and shred with two forks. With the remaining sauce add a few big lumps of brown sugar, more vinegar if it needs it and reduce until its a sticky sauce. Watch it doesn’t burn! Note: this sauce will be hella hot and spicy, but it will mellow with time. If your pork was especially fatty (mine wasn’t) you might want to skim off some of the fat.
For the onions:
Thinly slice one red onion and cover with white wine vinegar, a bit of salt and sugar and chuck in the fridge for 30mins or so. They will turn the most wonderful pink colour ever.
For the quinoa:
I don’t measure quinoa, but I generally have good results if I use a ratio of 1 part quinoa to 1.5 parts water and add a wack of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is gone.
For the rest of the salad:
In a bowl layer romaine, quinoa, a grated carrot, pickled onion and chunks of avocado with springs of coriander. Spread the warm pulled pork over top and spoon over the sticky sweet dressing. Top with more coriander and serve!