I love the tangy pucker of a great North Carolina pulled pork. It really is a marriage made in hog heaven, with sweet pork and yellow mustard sauce. I tried something new, thanks to my brother Lee. To cook the pork, simply massage in a rub (the night before or minutes before), set your oven to 250 degrees, place fatty side up in a roasting pan on a pile of sliced onions and bake for about 6 hours. Even better, put it in overnight. Once the pork shreds easily, make the sauce according to the recipe link below and perfection. I find slow roasting much tastier and easier than stuffing it all into a crock pot and boiling the pork. You’d better, too. Photo: Becca Henry
These little beauties were in the “Manager’s Special” section of the meat department. Who am I to turn up my nose at a two dollar savings on lamb chops? No cold shoulder here, I like my shoulders braised. This was so simple and satisfying…lamb is a favorite of mine. I find it so much more interesting than beef, pork or chicken. It must be the grass. I opted to finely mince the ingredients for the marinade versus dirtying up my food processor. Photo: Becca Henry.
It is simply not summer without spiedies. I grew up near Binghamton, NY, home of Spiedie Fest. Spiedies trace their origins to Italy’s spiedini and were introduced long ago to this area by Italian immigrants. This technique has become so popular, a few local entrepreneurs have bottled the sauce and it’s sold online and in local stores. I do like the pre-made marinades, but homemade is always better, less salt and lots of fresh basil and mint.
Okay, enough of the history lesson, all I care about is grilling the vinegar and herb marinade on cubes of meat creating a charred masterpiece. It’s really simple. Make the marinade with the best vinegars, olive oil and fresh herbs. Cube up your favorite meat, you can’t beat chicken thighs for taste and cost. Let the meat sit in the marinade anywhere from 2 to 48 hours. Grill over charcoal (on or off skewers) until meat is cooked, hopefully with crusty edges and enticing grill marks.
Serve plain on just a roll or dress it up with your favorite toppings. Pictured here are last night’s efforts with a ciabatta roll and pickled cucumber/red pepper relish and a little hot sauce. Yummers. Photo: Danie Woodward.
I endeavored to make a red chile enchilada sauce with some dried poblano and other chiles. It was a quite an ordeal with the roasting, stemming, steaming and puree-ing. What I got was a beautiful red earthy sauce with a slight bitter taste. Drat. When I searched the net to find out why, I got all sorts of reasons: not being diligent with getting all the seeds and membranes removed, letting the water boil, and stirring the sauce counter-clockwise. Okay, that last one is not true, but jeesh.
I proceeded to try to sweeten the sauce, adding tomato paste, honey, agave syrup, and who knows what. It did help, yet that bitterness was still slightly there. Double Drat. So, here I am with this huge pot of sauce and a lost afternoon. What to do?
Well, make pulled pork sammies is the obvious answer to that question. I theorized a sweet pork butt would take my slightly bitter sauce and wear it like a mink coat. And I was right. This was the tastiest mistake ever, and I want to make it again. My no-longer-bitter baby is shown here on a multi-grain hoagie roll, with red cabbage slaw and jalapenos. Photo: Danie Woodward.
A pork tenderloin is a great little cut of swine, and I try to grab a few when they go on sale. This is a simple preparation, not too flamboyant, sure to please the kids and your more cautious eaters. For me, being an adventurous inhaler of food, I’m gonna try a bacon-wrapped one with a fruit glaze, yippee, skippy! Photo: Becca Henry.
For the Superbowl (and to test cooking large hunks of meat) I decided to braise a beef brisket. Brisket is a huge piece of beef best slow cooked to tenderness. It is touted as inexpensive, but I wonder if anyone has done a cost analysis when you factor in the 6 hours of oven time. Is it still a deal? Regardless, it was delicious. Photo: Becca Henry.
Here’s a few tips.
1. Cook the day before. I sampled the beef right out of the oven and thought it was okay. The next day, however, after shredding the beef, blending the drippings into a sauce and reheating it, it was amazing.
2. Trim any excess fat, you want some fat, but not the four cups I got. To defat the drippings, let them cool and pour them into a bowl and let chill in the fridge overnight. The next day, you can easily remove the top layer of congealed fat from the bowl. Pour the sauce into a blender and puree and add back to your shredded brisket.