Pulled Korean BBQ Pork Apples
¾ cup paprika
¼ cup cumin
¼ cup chili powder
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic
2 Tbsp. onion powder
¼ lb. brown sugar
4 Tbsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 lb. boneless pork shoulder
2 Tbsp. Korean soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbsp. Korean chili paste
1 pear, peeled, cored and puréed
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. brown sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. freshly minced ginger
2 Tbsp. mirin
4 Fuji apples
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. goat cheese for garnish
1 oz. roasted pistachios for garnish
• Combine the first 8 ingredients (through black pepper) in a small bowl.
• Rub the pork shoulder liberally with the spice mixture and place in the refrigerator overnight.
• The following day, prepare the pork*: Using a smoker or barbecue, cook the pork shoulder according to the manufacturer’s directions using lump charcoal and ½ cup soaked and drained wood chips. Start the fire and bring the temperature of the smoker or barbecue to 225 degrees. Place the pork on a rack inside the smoker or barbecue. Cover and cook until a thermometer inserted into the meat registers 165 degrees, turning the pork every 45 minutes, for about 8 hours total, or until the meat is falling apart. Add more charcoal as needed to maintain 225 degrees and more drained wood chips to maintain the smoke level. Let the pork cool slightly and break it apart into chunks.
• Next, make the bulgogi: Add the Korean soy sauce, minced garlic, chili paste, pear purée, honey, 1½ teaspoons of brown sugar, minced ginger and mirin to a large pot. Stir until well combined.
• Add the smoked pork chunks to the bowl and simmer until the sauce is thick and the meat is glazed.
• Meanwhile, prepare the apples: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Cut the tops off of the apples just below the stem. Use a melon baller to scoop the flesh and core out of each apple, removing as much of the flesh as possible to just allow the apple to keep its shape.
• Thoroughly combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar with the cinnamon and butter. Divide the butter mixture between the apples, filling each cavity with one-quarter of the mixture.
• Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the apples just begin to soften but retain their shape.
• To serve, divide the bulgogi-glazed pork among each apple cavity. Garnish each apple with 1 tablespoon of goat cheese and ¼ ounce of roasted pistachios.
* Alternatively, you can purchase pulled pork at finer area butchers.