Yes, there is actually a recipe. Scroll down to Methods to skip the science.
Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoal parasite that is always looking for real estate in the cat intestine market. Once it snuggles into this cozy home it can complete its life cycle before being wrapped up in cat feces and dumped straight back out into your child’s sandbox. Sounds lovely right? If I haven’t already spoiled your appetite, let’s consider how this relates to your food.
This little bug can be found in the soil growing your delicious fruits and vegetables, can be tracked into your house by a pet cat (keep them off the kitchen counters!), and can wind up in meat products. And no, I’m not talking about eating cats. I mean other meat products like pork and lamb.
For years the evil T. gondii has literally been turning rodents into kitty cat fan girls, turning the natural order of predator-prey completely on its head, or should I say tails? It took 31 years after its discovery in 1908 to link it to devastating congenital infections and 62 years to realize its relationship to cats. Now, almost a century later we are starting to realize how it can affect human behaviour in a manner similar to how it affects infected rodents. Have you noticed a fondness for the smell of cat urine recently? (Not even kidding, this actually happens. Check out my posts on T. gondii and psychosis for more on how T. gondii affects us.)
So, how to outwit this protozoa? Avoiding raw and undercooked meat, freezing meat before cooking it, and thoroughly washing kitchen utensils and produce are a good start [1–4]. As for dealing with cats: clean litter boxes daily, wear gloves when working with dirt or cat litter, keep cats inside, feed cats dried or cooked food and avoid stray/new cats [1–4]. Every time a black cat crosses your path just think stranger danger and run the other way.
And now…get ready to pig out :D
This combination of materials and methods will result in delightfully tender shredded pork and will make your house smell much, much nicer than cat urine.
1 grapefruit, juiced
White wine added to grapefruit juice to equal 1 cup liquid
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 lb pork shoulder or two 2 lb pieces
Juice one grapefruit and add white wine to make up to one cup of liquid. Add in the honey.
Mix the spices together and add to the liquid mixture.
Throw the pork shoulder into a sealable bag and pour the marinade over top. Refrigerate overnight.
Place meat and marinade into slow cooker. Chop the onion into quarters and place on top. Cook for 8 hours on low.
Strain liquid if you wish, shred the pork and fry it up on the stove.
Enjoy! (Preferably with some avocado, cilantro and lime juice)
See for yourself in the picture above! Beautifully tender, golden meat, dancing taste buds, and with my usual disclaimer: no I certainly did not eat that in the lab.
Mess level of about 2/10, prep pain of about 4/10 and yum level of about I-ate-too-much.
Miscellaneous Lab Notes from Previous Experiments on this Topic:
Experiment 1: My dad and I have made this many times with varying types of citrus, all with decent results.
Experiment 2: Tried adding in honey for carmelization factor – too sweet.
Experiment 3: Tried adding in less honey – just right.
Experiment 4: Added in white wine instead of chicken broth, which really enhanced the flavour profile.
Experiment 5: Swapped out the oregano for thyme with decadent results. My dad agrees, this version is "just right".
Future Directions/Room for Improvement:
It’s best to marinade the meat in two pieces rather than one 4 lb piece.
If you want a little more spice – try upping the cayenne.
If you want a little more sweet – increase the honey to anywhere between ¼ to ½ a cup. Half a cup makes it really sweet (too sweet for me!) so I wouldn’t recommend more than that.
You can swap out the thyme for oregano if you prefer oregano or just happen to be out of thyme (if you’re out of “time” this won’t help you any, sorry).
This recipe can be made more quickly by having the spice mix made up in advance. Once I’ve used up a spice, I keep the glass spice jars to store my own spice mixes in.
Dabritz, H. A. & Conrad, P. A. Cats and Toxoplasma: implications for public health. Zoonoses Public Health 57, 34–52 (2010).
Torda, A. Are cats really the source? 30, 743–748 (2001).
Baril, L. et al. Risk factors for Toxoplasma infection in pregnancy: a case-control study in France. Scand. J. Infect. Dis. 31, 305–9 (1999).
Prevention, C.-C. for D. C. and. CDC - Toxoplasmosis - Prevention & Control.
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