The news the other day about Wendy’s going pulled pork crazy on its menus can’t possibly be good news, can it?
Pulled pork sandwiches are one thing. Pulled pork fries and a pulled pork cheeseburger are another. But I’m not complaining because of some notion of pulled pork integrity. I’m not necessarily a purist.
But when a player this big in the business of serving food starts buying more a single product, it creates demand that can boost the prices for the rest of us, at least temporarily. Wings were quite expensive, about $2 a pound wholesale, when McDonald’s got into the wing business (and then came down when McD’s needed to unload some 10 million pounds of wings it reserved when nobody was eating them).
We use tons of pork shoulder here at camp. OK, maybe ton, singular. But we use a lot. It’s our little secret. The meat is well marbled, so it stays tender and moist, whether it’s cooked quickly or roasted overnight.
We roast it whole for carving. We slow-cook it for pulled pork (if we had a smoker, we’d do that, too). We shred it for tacos. We cube it for stew and chili. I’d even like to slice it for pork steaks. We save the drippings for soups. We reserve rendered fat for frying potatoes or onions. Precious little goes to waste.
And it’s economical. A year ago, I was buying boneless pork shoulders for 99 cents a pound, making it the least costly of our meats — even a better price than ground turkey. The price this summer, as the industry recovered from a virus that knocked out tens of thousands of pigs, swelled to more than $2 per pound at times, even for entire shoulders, bone in all. It’s $1.91 right now from my primary supplier. At the moment, that’s more than center-cut pork loin from Restaurant Depot (on sale for the next two weeks).
Will Wendy’s change that? Will pork shoulder eclipse turkey prices? Will it become more costly than beef?
Time will tell.