Pork ribs were marinated in barbecue sauce and slow-cooked for eight hours. After cooling, the meat was shredded and combined with stiff mashed potatoes and shredded smoky cheese to make the filling for these spring rolls that defy nationality and ethnicity. Saw something similar in a segment of Unique Eats and I was so smitten. Spring rolls might be considered too ordinary in Asia but, cooked this way, spring rolls become a delectable party food that can be served to young and old alike over the holidays.
The best part about the preparation of these spring rolls is how the work can be divided so that you don’t sweat a bucket on the day of the party. Cook the pork two days ahead or even longer and keep in the fridge with whatever liquid and spices it was cooked with. The meat will be tastier this way because the meat has more time to absorb the flavors. Make the mashed potatoes a day ahead and keep in a covered container in the fridge. Assemble the spring rolls a few hours before you need to cook them (see how to store uncooked spring rolls) then relax. Frying the spring rolls take only a few minutes so the last step won’t be so stressful even if your guests have started to arrive.
A few notes before the recipe.
1. You can use whatever part of the pig you want. Pork belly is always my favorite but shoulder and butt will work too. Just remember that pulled pork stays nice and moist if the meat has substantial amount of fat.
2. The barbecue sauce can be your own concoction or straight out of a jar picked up from the grocery. I’m partial to my own formula (see the perfect barbecue sauce); click the search icon above and type “barbecue sauce” to see a list of all articles about barbecue sauce.
3. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can bake the meat in the oven, covered with foil, at 300F. Depending on the cut of the meat and the age of the animal, it will take three hours or more for the meat to get to that fork-tender stage. Once it has, peel off the foil, turn up the heat to 400F and bake for another 20 minutes.
No slow-cooker and no oven? Cook the pork on the stovetop. You’ll need a thick-bottomed pan with a tight lid to keep the juices from evaporating. Set the stove to the lowest setting and remember to flip the meat every 30 minutes or so. You may also need to add a cup or so of broth (okay, use water if you’re really that desperate) to keep the marinade from scorching.
4. The mashed potatoes mixture has to be stiff; otherwise, it will be difficult to wrap the fillings. What does “stiff” mean? It means mash the potatoes with salt, pepper and whatever seasonings you like, you add a little butter just to keep the potatoes moist but NO milk or cream.
5. The cheese can be any variety you like. Just remember that cheese may be hard or soft, salty or bland, it may melt well or not, and these variables will affect the flavor and texture of the filling after the spring rolls have been cooked.
Slow-cooker pulled pork, mashed potatoes and cheese spring rolls
- 1 kilogram pork (belly, shoulder or ribs are best) in one piece, marinated overnight in your favorite barbecue sauce
- 1 kilogram potatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup cold butter cut into small cubes
- chopped parsley (optional)
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 24 spring roll wrappers separated
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 cups cooking oil for deep frying
Cook the pork with the marinade in the slow cooker for eight hours in LOW setting. Cool.
While the pork cools, boil the potatoes in water until tender. Drain and mash with salt and pepper. Add the butter and stir until melted and incorporated. If using parsley, add at the same time as the butter. Cool.
Using two forks, shred the pork.
Assemble the spring rolls. Take a wrapper and place a heaping tablespoon of mashed potatoes at the center. Top with a heaping tablespoon of pulled pork and a generous amount of shredded cheese. Brush the sides of the wrapper with the beaten eggs and roll (see step-by-step guide on wrapping spring rolls). Note that you don't have to keep the filling to a minimum. Every component of the filling is already cooked so there's no danger here of having raw meat in your spring rolls. Repeat until you have filled all the wrappers. Note too that you may have excess pork or mashed potatoes, or both.
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan until fine wisps of smoke start to float on the surface. Fry the spring rolls, a few pieces at a time to avoid overcrowding, turning them over once the underside is lightly browned. Repeat until all the spring rolls have been fried.
To serve, cut each spring roll into thirds or quarters to expose the layers of filling. These spring rolls don't need any dipping sauce. For added depth though, I suggest serving them with pickled vegetables.