Pulled Pork BBQ with Piquant Sauce and Classic Southern Slaw

Hot, lazy days and nights when you sit out with a fan and hope for a bit of a breeze.  Lightening bugs and children squealing with delight as they catch one in a jar.  Sweet tea and rockers on a porch, family picnics and pork barbecue.

It’s summer in the south.

Coming from the north I had never really had barbecue until i moved here almost 26 years ago.  Ever since that time I first held a pulled pork sandwich in my hand, I have been in love with it.  The vinegar sauce dripping down my fingers, the hot spice subtly controlled by the coolness of the rich coleslaw resting on top.  It was that first bite that made me realize I was destined to live in the south.

I have tried to make it many times over the past years.  Once I almost got it right and then somehow lost the recipe and it’s been a struggle ever since, trying to recreate it.

Until now.

Once again, I have gone back to my friend, Patrick Evans-Hylton’s cookbook “Dishing Up Virginia” and gotten the most incredible tasting recipe for dinner.  It was not what I expected when making it because of the ingredients, but definitely worth keeping it as written.  I want to tell you when you make this, open all the windows and doors because the flavorful scent of pork mixed with onions and garlic wafting throughout the home will make it almost impossible to wait the five hours it needs to cook.   I don’t recall how many times that day I almost dove head first into the oven.

The pork just fell apart, and it was so moist.  I cannot tell you in words how tasty this was.  With every bite I couldn’t wait for the next one.  To quote Patrick from his book and this recipe, ” No doubt other states do remarkable things with barbecue, but this Virginia recipe that combines tradition and time with spice and smoke is unequaled.”  So very true.

Eating dinner with my husband that night, I had the feeling there was a red checkered tablecloth on the table, grandma, grandpa and all the cousins were arriving with their pot luck and the fireflies were lighting up the evening.

Summertime in the south.  It can’t get any better than this.

Pulled Pork BBQ wit Piquant Sauce and Classic Southern Slaw

Prep Time 24 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes

Ingredients

PIQUANT SAUCE

  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

**NOTE: Sauce needs to be made at least 24 hours ahead of time.

PORK RUB

  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

PULLED PORK

  • 1 6 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup beer, preferably lager
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped

CLASSIC SOUTHERN SLAW

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Pulled Pork BBQ and Piquant Sauce

  2. Make the sauce: Pour the vinegar into a glass jar and add the sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and pepper flakes. Put on the lid and shake well. Allow to sit at least 24 hours before using; shake before use.

  3. Make the pork rub: Whisk the paprika, sugar, pepper, salt, mustard, cayenne, and cumin together in a medium bowl.

  4. Make the pulled pork: Rub the pork thoroughly with prepared spices on all sides and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

  5. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish over medium-high heat. Cook the pork until brown on all sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Remove pork from dish and set aside.

  6.  Pour the beer into the dish and stir to deglaze. Bring to a simmer and add garlic and onions. Remove from heat. Add pork, cover, and bake for about 5 hours, basting occasionally, until very tender and pulls apart easily.

  7. Shred the pork in the casserole dish using tongs; transfer the meat to a platter. Discard the bone.

  8. Serve alone or on a bun, with sauce drizzled on top and if desired, southern slaw.

Classic Southern Slaw

  1. Make the dressing: Put the mayonnaise, sour cream, cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper in a jar and seal the lid; shake well to incorporate all the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, shake again before dressing the slaw.

  2. Make the slaw: Put the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

  3. Toss again before serving; serve with a slotted spoon.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

There are those days where nothing seems to go the way you want them to.  Sometimes the world is caving in around you and all you want is a good book, a blanket, probably a glass of wine and that comfort food you always turn to in times of trouble.  For me, that comfort has always been macaroni and cheese.

It was always one of my favorite meals when i was little.  Maybe because I didn’t like a lot of what my mom would cook, but this was one thing that I really did.  When I went off to school, I didn’t cook myself, so when I wanted to feel like I was home again, I would make that mac and cheese in a box.  Economically delicious, with that touch of home that I needed.

So last weekend, I was seriously thinking macaroni and cheese when my husband suggested we buy a lobster for dinner.  Of course I always love lobster, but I wanted my comfort food.  And then the light bulb went off over my head and I realized I could have my cake and eat it too, or in this case make Lobster Mac and Cheese.   It was delightfully decadent and comfy all at the same time.

There is nothing better than a good book, a blanket and a glass of wine to make me feel better.  Oh yes…and a nice bowl of Lobster Mac and Cheese.   It’s just like a big hug from your mom, telling you that everything will be okay.

And it will.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 2 pound lobster or two 1 1/4 lb lobsters
  • 1 pound penne or pasta of your choice
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 cups Gruyere cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Hot sauce (to taste, I use Frank’s Hot Sauce)
  • Worchestershire sauce, to taste
  • 1/2-1 cup crushed potato chips

Instructions

  1. Cook lobster(s) in boiling salted water approximately 10 minutes. Remove lobster and reserve 1 cup of the water. Discard the rest of the water and allow lobster to cool to room temperature, remove shell and chop lobster meat into large chunks. Set aside.

  2. Add enough salt (I usually add about a palm full of salt) to 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside.

  3. In the same pot, add the heavy cream. the crushed garlic and the reserved water.. Bring to a simmer and add Gruyère cheese and Dijon mustard, stirring until cheese is well blended. Add cheddar and parmesan and continue stirring until all cheeses have melted and are blended with the cream. Add hot sauce and Worcestershire, adding more for personal taste. Season with salt and white pepper. (you can use black pepper but I don’t like to see the specks in this dish) Add pasta and remove from heat. Let rest for 10-15 minutes. Remove garlic and add lobster meat, stirring to mix.

  4. Place in either a casserole dish or individual au gratin dishes and top with more cheese and crushed potato chips. Heat in oven until bubbly, approximately 15-20 minutes.

  5. Serve immediately.

Father’s Day

Every year for the last few years, I have wished on Father’s Day I could go buy the proverbial tie for my dad and give him a call.  He isn’t here any more for me to do that but every day I think of how he was as a father that helped make me the person I am today.

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My dad was a man who would shake your hand instead of signing a contract.  He never really had any money but he would give you whatever he could if you needed it.  He was loyal, honest and hardworking.   He wasn’t a loud sort,  but you knew when he had something to say..  He wasn’t the disciplinarian in our home, but you knew if you crossed the line. When I would introduce him to whatever boy I was dating at the time, he would look from behind his newspaper, grunt, and go back to reading.  First and last date.

I remember Sunday mornings with country music playing on the stereo and my dad whistling in the kitchen while he made breakfast.  And if he wasn’t in the kitchen, he would be cooking meat until it was shoe leather on the grill.  He was a New Englander and a true Boston sports fan, and his heart was always with his hometown in Pittsfield, NH.

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My dad was a fantastic dancer.  He would take my mom out on the floor and they would start dancing and by the end of the song,  the entire floor would be standing in a circle, watching them twirl.

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The most important thing was his love for his family and his devotion to friends.  He would protect the ones that meant so much to him with his life if he had to.  He was always there to help family and friends in need, no matter what it was.  Grandchildren only added to the love he had to give and he could always be seen sitting in his favorite recliner with one or two or more sitting on his lap.

So Dad….even though you aren’t with us physically, you are in our hearts every moment of every day.  Your legacy of love continues on.  Happy Father’s Day to one of the best.  I love you Dad.

 

mango tapioca ambrosia

It seems I’m always thinking.  Depending on the day depends on what it’s about and sometime it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.  The one constant thing, however,  is I am always thinking about what I can make and how I will make it.   And that is exactly what happened on the day I was looking through one of my food magazines and saw a recipe for a mango and tapioca parfait.  I wanted to make it.

But I didn’t have a chance to make it as soon as I had hoped to,  which was perhaps, a blessing in disguise. I just couldn’t find small pearl tapioca anywhere!  I honestly think it is a rare commodity in my area, but if you have as much trouble finding it as I did, check your local asian market.  They will have it.  During the search, however, I was looking through my friend, Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “Dishing up Virginia”, and came across his Ambrosia recipe.  I now wanted to make that too.

Here’s where the thinking part came in.  What if I combined the mango parfait with the ambrosia recipe?  Now that was something worth thinking about and I have to say,  this one thought was with me almost every day.  How would I combine them, what would I take out and what would I keep?  For days I had both recipes open on my counter, reading and re-reading.  Thinking, thinking, thinking.

I may have blown a brain cell with all my thinking but I honestly believe I came up with a really great combination.  I have Patrick’s Ambrosia in a whole new way.  I don’t think Patrick would really mind me taking liberties with his recipe, in fact,  I’m almost positive he would love the fact that I did!

So the next time you see a recipe you like (including this one), think about popping a few brain cells, taking a few liberties and see what you come up with.  I think it could be something amazing!

See…..there I go again…. always thinking.  However, I believe this time it worked and it was a good thing.

mango tapioca ambrosia

Prep Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup small pearl tapioca
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 can unsweetened coconut milk (1/2 of a 14 oz can)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peeled and diced mango
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 banana
  • 3 ounces fresh or frozen coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • maraschino cherries (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the tapioca, whole milk, vanilla bean and seeds and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and cook, whisking occasionally, until tapioca is translucent and tender, about 20 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk.

  2. In a small bowl whisk the egg yolk with the sugar. Gradually whisk in half the warm tapioca in a steady stream. Continue whisking and pour egg mixture back into the saucepan. Cook the pudding over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Discard the vanilla bean. (i usually cover with plastic wrap directly covering the top of the pudding to avoid “skin”)

  3. Whip the cream with an electric mixer in a medium chilled metal bowl until thick; fold in the sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

  4. In a medium bowl, combine the mango, pineapple, lime zest and lime juice. Take half to a food processor and purée until smooth. Add purée to the other half of the diced mango and pineapple. Slice banana and add to the purée mixture to prevent browning.

  5. Once tapioca has cooled enough, fold whipped cream into it.

  6. To assemble begin with the fruit mixture, top with tapioca and whipped cream mixture, add toasted coconut, and then toasted pecans. Repeat until you have about two layers of everything. I use jelly canning jars and got six out of this recipe. Top with a maraschino cherry if desired.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

I was looking through a magazine the other day and there was a photograph of an appetizer that really interested me and I wanted to try.  It was a jar that was half filled with pimento cheese and topped with a bacon marmalade.  I’m sure there are variations of this everywhere, but I have never seen one.  My only problem was,  there was no recipe.  Thank you to the internet and cookbooks,  it wasn’t an issue.

Let me regress for just a moment.  I have to say that I think bacon should have its own food group.  Let’s face it, everything is better with bacon.  And I know,  even all you diet fanatics will agree with me.  Face it….what’s a few more miles to run when you have bacon on your plate?  You know it’s worth it.  Bacon has found its place in our world.  We have chocolate with bacon, bacon and eggs, bacon candy, bacon wrapped everything……. and now, we have bacon marmalade.  Yes, after making this, I will tell you that this is worth the extra five miles you will have to run. Pair it with pimento cheese and another five or six-mile run and we have a winner….. and you will thank me for it!

The Piquant Pimento Cheese was from my friend Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  For the past several weeks I’ve had an obsession with making pimento cheese and I’m not sure why because I’ve not been one that really ate pimento cheese.  Having made this however, I am now a huge fan and will use this in so many ways, because it is that good.

The bacon marmalade was adapted from a couple of online recipes, the stronger part coming from Lance Mayhew.  I looked more to his idea because he had bourbon in it and seriously….what could be better than that?    This turned out to be everything I imagined it would.  In this we have bacon smokiness, sweet, salty, and a little kick.  I could not only see this with the pimento cheese on a cracker but on a burger,  with the pimento as a grilled cheese sandwich, on a steak….you name it.

Try this recipe, buy Patrick’s book and definitely combine everything you make with bacon marmalade.  Bacon…the new food group.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Ingredients

PIQUANT PIMENTO CHEESE

  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces white cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

BACON MARMALADE

  • 1 1/2 pounds smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup bourbon ( I used Jack Daniels)
  • 6 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups freshly brewed coffee
  • 6 dashes hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper

Instructions

  1. For the Piquant Pimento Cheese
  2. Combine the sharp cheddar, white cheddar, bell pepper and onion in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, celery seed, black pepper and cayenne together in a medium bowl; then pour over the cheese mixture. Mix well and taste, adjusting mayonnaise and seasonings for texture and flavor. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  4. For the Bacon Marmalade
  5. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until the bacon begins to crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and let drain on a paper towel lined plate.
  6. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the rendered bacon fat and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pot and discard the fat. Add the bacon and onion garlic mixture back to the pot with the next five ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to low, while maintaining a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 2 hours, checking the pot every 30 minutes. If the ingredients become too dry, add 1/2 cup water when needed.
  8. After 2 hours, most of the liquid should be reduced. If it is too watery, simmer for up to an additional 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes to cool. Add hot sauce and pepper. Stir to incorporate.
  9. Transfer the contents to a food processor. Pulse the contents 5 or 6 times to incorporate all the ingredients together. Do not over blend, or you will lose the texture.
  10. To Serve
  11. Place Piquant Pimento Cheese in the bottom of a small glass cup or bowl. Top with Bacon Marmalade. Serve with crackers.

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