Ode to Pulled Pork

June 2008By Comments

Though I am proud to claim Texas associations, I am from the South. So when it comes to barbecue, my first thought is not of brisket but of pork. Does a pig have brisket? It may be hard to find, on a pig.

A cow spends more time standing up and ranging around than a pig does, so the pig has more fat. You could say the same of a policewoman as opposed to a courtesan. But never mind that. A pig is regarded by scientists as being smarter. I don’t guess I want to go into that in a barbecue context, but I do think you can taste it. Eating good pulled pork, I almost feel as though the pig knew his destiny. Went along with it, in exchange for a life of putting on fat. Whereas I can’t help thinking that a cow, confronted with the concept of beef, would say, “Huh?” But never mind that. A cow is bigger.

Watch a cow eat, and then watch a pig eat. A cow is chewier. Brisket, according to some dictionaries, derives originally from a chewy Old Norse word (brjosk, with a little line over the o) meaning “gristle.” Whoa! Let me leap to assure you that I don’t regard this as fair. It is true, however, that brisket is tougher than pulled pork. I don’t know that you can pull brisket.

Nothing wrong with that! Brisket, barbecued, is juicier and more tender than a sirloin even, although it is a tougher cut, because in the process of slow-cooking, the fat marinates down into the fiber. So in honor of the consistency, the unassailable integrity of that great Texas institution, let us all rise, please . . .

Well, I’m sorry. I can’t make the pig get up.

— Novelist Roy Blount Jr. is from Georgia, where pigs are more esteemed than cows, and no one can take that away from him.

Related Content