Pulled Pork Chili and a Sporting Celebrity Encounter in time for Superbowl

Pork Shoulder Ragu with pomegranates and linguini

I probably sit next to a celebrity. This is one of those large open plan offices, holding several different companies, all hot desking over three floors. So on this particular day I find a spot, and a guy sits down next to me. He’s very tall, broad, handsome in his suit. His name is Anthony. He says hi. I say hi. We get to work.

About half an hour in, my boss comes round to our desks, but not to speak to me. “I’m a big fan. My son is a big fan. It would mean the word, I mean, Man, I know this is a big favor but …” He holds out a phone. So Antony calls my boss’s son to congratulate him on a game. My boss’s son is so awestruck that he literally cannot speak.

This was how I discovered that I probably sit next to a celebrity. The only question now was, which one?

How to ask politely and Britishly, who is this guy and what is he famous for? When it’s clear everybody knows. It’s not like I can just turn to him and say, Hello Antony, so I gather you must be famous. Why is that exactly?

As the day progressed I learned that last night Antony went to “a game” and went to the dressing rooms afterwards to see “friends”. Also, we’re not to mention Dolphins around him. Ugh! I’m guessing team name, not ocean-dwelling mammal from the context. All this seemed to confirm my initial guess of famous for playing American sport I am not interested in. (Just to clarify, it’s not an American thing, I am not interested in British sport either. The only footballer I could pick out of a line up would be David Beckham, and only then, if he was dressed in boxer shorts.)

But why would an American sports celebrity be working in my office? “Oh, that’s quite common,” said Yosi. “It’s a phenomenon. Within a few years, most sports stars are actually back to regular jobs.”

Antony pushed back his wheelie chair. “See you tomorrow, beautiful,” he said, as, with a swish of his fur coat, he left.

“I want to know who this guy is,” said Jon. So we hit Google. But there wasn’t a whole lot to go on. American Sports Player. Anthony.

“Well, we know it’s not this guy, because he’s still in jail, and it’s not this guy, because he’s dead.”

The mystery continues.

Pulled Pork Chili

This dish can be made in advance and refrigerated. Indeed, I think it tastes even better the next day. When you take it out of the fridge it’s easy to skim the fat from the top, then re-heat in a moderate oven until the sauce is bubbling and the pork is hot.

2 – 3lb pork shoulder (this is about 1/3rd of a pork shoulder – I freeze the rest in 2.5 ish pieces for another day. Also, it should be skinless, and if there’s obvious fat, trim it off.)
1 large red onion (or 2 white onions)
1 tsp crushed garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp coco powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp chili flakes (or more if you prefer hot chili)
1 tsp cumin
1 small can crushed tomatoes
1 can red beans
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups red wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 star anise
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Grated cheese, avocado slices, sour cream, tortilla chips etc to serve
  • Slice the onion and cook gently in a cast iron pan (le cruset rules here), with a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil. Stir occasionally until the onions are a sweet brown tangle. The longer you cook them for, the better the dish. Slow for 20 mins, higher heat, maybe you can do it in 10.
  • Add the garlic, coco, and all the spices. Let them cook for a minute in the hot oil.
  • Season the pork and put on top of the onion mixture. Pour in the tomatoes, balsamic and wine, then add the sugar (everything’s now in the pot apart from the beans)
  • Add water so that the liquid level just covers the pork.
  • Put the lid on and cook really really gently for 4 hours either on the stove or in a 250f ish oven. Turn the meat occasionally to keep it moist. After 3 hours, fish out the star anise.
  • Take the lid off for the last half hour to let the sauce reduce a bit, and add the beans to let them heat through
  • Pull the pork into bite-sized pieces with 2 forks, then stir into the sauce
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