Pulled pork and fried mac cheese burgers

The advent of the American street food revolution in the UK has made me very very happy. Not to mention much poorer, several pounds heavier, and in all probability with blood that resembles spicy cottage cheese. Even their salads are bad for you. No seriously, have you ever actually ordered a Cobb salad?

Pulled pork & deep fried mac cheese burger

There are days I think I could – and do – just live on hot wings, waffles and chili. There’s a lot of debate about who does the genre best, but for me it absolutely has to be Pitt Cue Co. From the day they set up their trailer on the Southbank they had me hook, line and sinker, and the pulled pork and deep fried mac cheese burger was the first dish of theirs I ever tasted. Spicy, juicy pork, tangy crunchy slaw, and crisply-crumbed but oozy-centred mac cheese all sandwiched within a sweet bun. Who could ask for more?

This is my version. The ingredients list is long, but really, it’s just some roast meat, a spot of sauce and a slice of pasta bake – really not all that difficult, when you think about it.

Pulled pork and fried mac cheese burgers
Makes 6 hefty burgers

You will need:
6 handfuls slow-roast pork  (I roast a 2kg shoulder at Gas 2 for 5 hrs 45mins, it gives you more than you need but hey, too much pork is never a problem, right?)
6 large brioche or ciabatta rolls
A portion of your favourite slaw recipe – I like to use red cabbage for both colour and its extra crunch

For the fried mac cheese:
225g macaroni
350ml whole milk
½ white onion
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
30g butter
30g flour
115g Swiss or Dutch cheese (something like Gruyère, Emmenthal or Maasdam)
15g Parmesan, finely grated
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
nutmeg, to taste
plain flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs for coating

For the pulled pork sauce:
1 x 6g Ancho Poblano*
15g Pasilla chilli*
15g Cacabel chilli*
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
1 scotch bonnet
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
2 tbsp palm sugar
250g red onion
juice of 2 oranges
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp tomato puree

Pulled pork & deep fried mac cheese burger
To make the mac cheese:

  1. Stud the onion with the cloves. Bring the milk to the boil with the clove-studded onion and bay leaves, then leave to infuse and cool.
  2. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water according to packet instructions, until al dente (about 9 mins), drain it but don’t rinse (you want the starchy water to cling to the pasta). Toss with a drop of olive oil to stop it sticking together and set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, make the white sauce. Put the butter and flour in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the flour incorporated. Continue to cook on a low heat until the flour smells cooked and a little nutty. Gradually add the infused milk (discard the onion, bay and cloves), stirring vigorously until incorporated (do this on or off the heat as you prefer, I’ve never found it makes the slightest difference). Slowly bring to the boil, stirring more or less constantly, then simmer until thickened. Stir in the cheeses and mustard, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Stir the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce, then tip into a greased baking dish, ideally one that gives you a layer about an inch thick. Leave to cool and set, preferably overnight, in the fridge.

To make the sauce:

  1. Soak the dried chillies in boiling water for 30 minutes. Toast the cumin seeds and cloves in a dry frying pan until aromatic.
  2. Blitz together the soaked chillies, toasted spices, scotch bonnet, garlic, oregano, bouillon powder, palm sugar and red onion in a food processor, liquidiser, or in a tall jug with a stick blender. Depending on the strength of your kit you may need to roughly chop some of the items before blitzing. Add as much of the soaking liquid as is needed to reach a really smooth consistency.
  3. Fry off the blitzed sauce with a little oil in a saucepan or high-sided frying pan on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the orange juice, vinegar and tomato vinegar and simmer for 10 minutes more, then season to taste.

 To finish:

  1. When you want to eat, get a plate each of plain flour, beaten egg and fine breadcrumbs or matzo meal. Cut the mac cheese into 6 equal squares and dunk each in turn in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs to coat. Shallow fry the mac cheese in just a little oil until brown on both sides and just starting to ooze in the middle.
  2. Toss 6 small handfuls of shredded pork in the warm sauce. Smear a little sauce on the bottom of a bun, then top with the fried mac. Top with pork and a generous dollop of slaw. Finish with the top bun and tuck in whilst piping hot.

I always have a selection of dried chillies in the house, as I love Deep South and Mexican cooking. Buy them online and get to know the different varieties – there’s more to dried chillies than the simple flakes you get in supermarkets!

This post is a belated part of Flavours of the USA, a blogger event with simply.food and Souperior.


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