Slow-roasting a whole ‘hog’ is a big deal in the South, and roadside restaurants will use that pork in all sorts of delicious ways. I’ve made a deconstructed version of a roadside restaurant meal here by roasting half a shoulder of pork, dressing it with fresh flavours and serving it with my take on their traditional coleslaw. I wasn’t really into all the added sugar so I swapped it for slices of apple, which works brilliantly and serves the same purpose, but in a much fresher way. Put these things together on a plate and throw in a few hush puppies like they do in Georgia and you’ve got yourself a proper Southern-style meal.
Preheat your oven to full whack. Score the pork skin about 1cm deep all over with a sharp knife. Drizzle a little olive oil over the pork and season generously with salt, pepper and paprika. Rub the flavours all over the skin, then place your pork in a roasting tray in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 160ºC/320ºF/gas 3. Cook for about 4 hours, basting occasionally with the juices from the tray, then turn the oven down to 150ºC/300ºF/gas 2 and continue to cook for another 2 hours, or until you can pull the meat apart really easily. Remove the crackling and put it to one side, then remove any fat from the tray. Pull all the pork apart, discarding any bones and fat as you go, and use 2 forks to break the meat into small- and medium-sized pieces. Cover with foil until needed.
To make your coleslaw, finely slice your veg and apples or use a food processor or box grater. Put them into a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add your mayonnaise, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of cayenne and the red wine vinegar. Mix everything together until you’ve got a perfect coleslaw texture. Have a taste; it should be fresh and lovely, so season and put it to one side while you dress your meat.
Pick your mint leaves and finely chop them on a large board. Deseed and finely chop your chilli on the same board as your mint. Drizzle the olive oil and red wine vinegar all over the chilli and mint and add a good pinch of salt. Add this to your tray of pulled pork and mix it all together. Serve the dressed pork in a pile on to a plate next to some crackling and a good portion of that wonderful coleslaw. Finish the whole plate off with a little salt and a hit of paprika and tuck in with a lovely cold beer.