09 January 2011

Steamed pork “barbecue”

I wish I had a smoker. You know, for smoking pork, chicken, fish, and other meats. I guess that is a project to work on. Meanwhile...

I've found a method for cooking meat that I really like: steaming it. I steam it in a big pot on top of the stove, on a folding steaming rack that in French is called a marguerite. That's because it looks, if you stretch your imagination a little, like a daisy, and that's what the word marguerite means. It fits in pots of different sizes because the "petals" fold up. These steaming racks or baskets are used in other countries too.

This is a marguerite. Your probably have one in your kitchen.

Yesterday at SuperU I bought a pork roast. On the label, it said « Filet de porc sans os » — boneless pork fillet — but that's not what it was. In reality, it was what I'd call a pork loin roast — une longe de porc. That's not the tenderloin — le filet mignon — but a very lean, drier cut of pork.

Steamed pork loin, shredded with a fork...

To cook it, I decided to steam it. That way, I could cook it for a long time without the risk of drying it out or burning it. Cooked in the oven, in dry heat, pork loin can get stringy and unappetizingly dry. This is the second pork roast I've steamed this way, and I'm pretty happy with the result. Steaming is a good way to cook a lamb or pork shoulder too.

... and then chopped

All you have to do is set the roast or shoulder on the steaming rack and pour in enough water to just come up to the bottom of the rack. Salt, pepper, and otherwise season the pork as you like. I put on some crushed hot red pepper flakes and a good quantity of smoked paprika. I also put about half a cup of distilled vinegar — vinaigre blanc — into the steaming liquid.

Writing this, it just dawned on me that this would be a very good use for a pressure cooker — une cocotte minute. I have two of them, and I hardly every use either one. Next time I'll try it in the little stainless-steel pressure cooker I have sitting around doing nothing.

The chopped pork roast seasoned with the reduced
steaming liquid plus vinegar and spices

Steam the roast until its internal temperature, measured with a meat thermometer, gets up to at least 195ºF, or 90ºC. My roast actually went up to 205ºF. At high temperature, all the collagen and other connective tissue in the meat melts, adding moisture to the meat and tenderizing the muscle fibers.

When the roast is done, you can reduce the steaming liquid in the bottom of the pot and use it as a sauce. In my case, I shredded and then chopped the pork to make a kind of pulled-pork dish resembling Eastern N.C. "barbecue" but without the need for a long- and slow-burning wood fire. The smoked paprika adds smokiness, and some extra vinegar and hot pepper only improves the sauce. I'm not above putting a spritz of hickory or mesquite liquid smoke in it too.


  1. My marguerite is used almost
    daily but always for veggies.
    The pulled pork method is a
    great idea. maybe used with a
    dutch oven so the liquid doesn't
    evaporate too quickly.

    Off subject--be sure to catch
    Michael Wright's latest column
    (Jan 6th). Reminded me somewhat
    of your household.

  2. Indeed we have a marguerite, also with the centre spindle broken off like yours. We also have marguerite daisys, which must be a variety. I think they are just the white ones with yellow centres.

  3. Andrew, the center spindle of our marguerite isn't broken off. It unscrews, which is something I discovered only recently. Very practical when you are steaming a roast or shoulder.

    Sheila, thanks. I haven't looked at Mr. Wright's column in a while. I will do so now.

  4. I used to use my pressure cooker daily but have no idea where it is now, probably in the loft. It became redundant when I bought a microwave oven and a slow cooker. I remember now the hissing and clouds of steam it produced when you opened it. Happy days.

  5. how long did u steam it??? and I assume it was in a covered pot...I, too, have an identical gizmo....had no idea that it was called a marguerite.....snow is on the way here (central va) so i may have to try this....sounds great....glad to hear the center piece unscrews.....will check to see if mine does too

  6. Any time you cook pork and blog about it, I think of Wilber's, Cap'n Bob's, Jackson's Big Oak, and the Skylight Inn, and wish we could go there right away. Nothing I can cook at home beats eastern NC BBQ.

  7. Carolyn, I know what you mean. I keep trying to reproduce that succulent eastern NC barbecue, and I get close, but it's never quite the same. I'll be going to NC in March though...

    Melinda, I steamed the pork for three or four hours. That's why I think the pressure cooker might be a good idea, to speed that up. The main thing is to get the pork up to 195ºF, to make it juicier and less stringy.

    Jean, we have two pressure cookers, so I ought to start using them again. I'll report on my progress.

  8. That looks so so so tender and delicious. My mom's neighbor slow cooks hers in a crockpot/slow cooker, to the same effect.

    My French family used to make a veal roast(with tomatoes, onions, garlic) in the pressure cooker, and it was heavenly.



  9. Afriend uses the pressure cooker for pork roasts and they are delicious. He sears the meat first and then uses the pressure cooker.

  10. I have a marguerite in the kitchen, maybe even two. But never knew it was called it. To me, it's the collapsible veggie steamer.

    Clever usage of it, thanks for the good idea.

  11. Yes, I have a marguerite too, although the name is news to me, as well. My Mother used one for reheating most of her leftovers (pre-microwave era!) which worked quickly and much better than when she used to heat them up in her cast-iron skillet.

    Pork-roast is the next item I will pick up at the store; thanks for helping out with the menu-planning, Ken!

  12. Where the heck is my pressure cooker.....probably way in the back of the cabinet.....and I use to have a marguerite/veggie steamer.....I want a BBQ sandwich....RIGHT NOW. Unfornuately I'm in Bellingham, WA with 6 inches of snow and ice on the ground. I'm staying in and eating the veggie soup I made.

  13. I saw an improvised smoker on an Australian cooking show, of all places. They used a WOK. Placed the wood and herbs to burn on the bottom and used the "draining rack" of the wok to put the food to be smoked. Then, added a tall tight-fitting lit. Voila! Smoker!

    Probably can't smoke more than two or three filets at a time.

    Happy Pressure Cooking (and smoking?)!


    hip pressure cooking
    making pressure cookers hip again, one recipe at a time!

  14. Ken, my favorite way to cook pork roast, tenderloin, or beef roast is in a slow cooker (crock pot), it keeps the meats so moist and flavorful. It's easy too!!


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?