Pulled Pork “Sammiches”

Pulled Pork “Sammiches”

Pulled pork seems to be this Autumn’s ‘it’ recipe, covered by most every foodie magazine over the last month or two and helped no doubt by the increasing popularity of street food, of which the pulled pork van is usually the shining star. But Hubby was making this long before it became trendy, bringing his recipe from the motherland of BBQ with him when he washed up on these shores. What elevates Hubby’s version for me though is the home-made BBQ sauce that he makes from the leftover cooking liquid, which is hands down better than anything store bought that I’ve ever tasted.

Hubby serves it in the traditional way, on a bun with lashings of coleslaw and french fries and spears of dill pickle on the side, but it’s also delicious in a wrap (great leftover lunch!) or on mash or as a quesedilla filling. I think I’ve even seen it suggested as a baked potato topping, and why not!

Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off, it really is as easy as throwing everything in a pot and then leaving it to do its thing through the afternoon, at the end of which you’ll have a succulent slow cooked joint that will just fall apart. Perfect Autumn fodder, I promise you 🙂

And now, over to Hubby!

Pulled Pork "Sammiches"
Serves 4
An easy slow cook approach to Carolina BBQ, all in one happy pot.
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Stuff you’ll need, for the pork…
  1. 3 cups chicken stock (though beef works too)
  2. 2 onions, roughly chopped
  3. 3-4 carrots, roughly chopped
  4. 3-4 ribs celery, de-veined and roughly chopped
  5. 2-3 gloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  6. 2-3 bay leaves
  7. 1kg pork shoulder
Optional:
  1. 2 tsp onion granules
  2. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  3. 2-3 tsp mesquite liquid smoke (hard to find, but Lupe Pinto’s in Bruntsfield sells this. Or try Amazon!)
  4. 1/2 – 1 bottle favoured beer, add it to the stock
Stuff you’ll need, for the BBQ sauce…
  1. 2 cups reserved vegetables from the pork
  2. 6 ounces (170 mls) reserved cooking liquid from the pork
  3. 2 tsp garlic, finely chopped or minced
  4. 2 tsp very finely chopped ginger (or cheat and use powdered ginger at 1tsp, I do)
  5. 2 tsp cumin
  6. 2 cups ketchup
  7. 1/2 cup brown sugar (as a starter, more to taste, I do prefer a sweeter BBQ)
  8. 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  9. 6 tablespoons cider vinegar (seems like a lot, but mixed in through the pork it isn’t)
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
Optional:
  1. 1/2 – 1 Tbsp Red Hot or Tabasco sauce
  2. 2-3 tsp mesquite liquid smoke
Stuff you’ll need, for serving:
  1. Good sized burger buns or white baps
  2. Coleslaw
Other stuff you’ll need…
  1. Good slow-cooker, or large stewpot with lid
  2. Tray for cooling and shredding the pork
  3. Good size mixing bowl
  4. A liquidiser or food processor
Slow cook!
  1. Begin my browning the pork on all sides (even the fatty side), as this will help to seal in the juices. Keep the strings on the pork as well as it will hold it together while it’s slow cooking.
  2. If you’re using a slowcooker, just put everything in the pot, cover, set to low heat and either leave overnight to tend to in the morning, or leave it all day whilst you’re at work, and come home to dinner ready-made!
  3. If you’re doing this on the hob however, once you’ve browned the pork, simply toss everything into a large stockpot, mix it about, and then bring it up to a gentle boil.
  4. Don’t worry about trimming the pork shoulder or cutting fat, it’s much easier to do later once it’s all warm and falling apart, plus the fat adds a great flavour to the cooking liquid.
  5. Once boiling, cover, reduce temperate to lowest heat, and simmer. This should take about 4-5 hours on the hob before it’s ready to fall apart. Stir the pot and rotate the pork every hour or so, but keep covered. You’ll know when it’s done.
  6. Remove the pork to a baking tray or deep baking dish for cooling, and reserve the cooked vegetables and cooking liquid for your BBQ sauce.
  7. You won’t need to cool the pork completely, just enough to handle it without burning. At this point you can pull off or cut off the excess fat — don’t be afraid to take the pork shoulder completely apart. Any connective tissue will have nicely gelatinised by this point, but you don’t want too much fat in the pork, so remove as much as you like.
  8. Now, divide the pork into workable chunks, and shred in the baking pan with two forks, pulling the fibres apart finely. This both increases the volume of the meat as well as making it ready to soak up all of the lovely BBQ sauce. You can use your fingers for a more “rustic” shredding, instead, if you like.
  9. Once it’s shredded, drizzle over a ladle or two of the cooking liquid, mix, cover, and set aside.
  10. Now for the BBQ sauce…
  11. In your liquidiser/food processor, combine the reserved vegetables, cooking liquid, garlic and ginger, and process until smooth, and about the thickness and consistency of ketchup. Add the remaining ingredients and process until thoroughly mixed. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. The proportions are to taste, but this will, on its own, be a sweet, slightly tangy sauce. Mixing it with the pork results in a really rich, tangy sauce. Some like it sweeter, some like it with less cider, let your taste buds guide you.
  13. Toss the pulled pork with about 2 cups of the sauce, and set aside. If it looks like it needs more sauce, add away. The remainder is just used for dipping on the side anyway.
  14. You can prep all of this in advance and just reheat in a wok or stewpot, adding a -little- water to reheat it when it’s time to serve.
  15. Serve it with the coleslaw on top of a goodly pile of the pork on toasted buns. We serve this in the States with chips and spears of gherkin (The Polish kind, with Dill, not the sweeter British ones).
Hubby says...
  1. You can use a pork loin roast but the yield will be much lower. A shoulder will comfortably feed four. If you get this at the supermarket the size should be ok, so go for a weighty one. Careful asking for this at a butcher as they’ll often give you the whole shoulder + shank, which is frankly massive.
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Best. Ever. French. Toast.

Best. Ever. French. Toast.

The first time Hubby and I went to NYC we found ourselves in this fabulous diner in Chelsea for breakfast, one of those ones in a long railway car, all retro and shiney, and had quite possibly the most delicious french toast ever. It was so good that we had to ask the staff what on earth they had done to it … turns out the magic was using melted vanilla ice cream instead of milk… the crazy geniuses!

Needless to say we couldn’t go back to ‘bog standard’ french toast after that so now on celebratey type days, or ‘just because’ at the weekend, Hubby rustles us up a plate of these as a wee treat.  

Hubby’s also done these with a wee hint of orange, or made a french toast sandwich with a banana filling, but I think they are fantastic just as they are, with maple syrup and and a pat of butter melting away on top.  My absolute favourite though is to add a couple of rashers of American streaky bacon on top of the syrup and butter which, if you like salty/sweet combos, elevates this to a whole new level of delicious 🙂

Healthy this most definitely is not, but when breakfast tastes this damn good you really don’t care 😉 And I promise, a plate of these will put a big ass smile on your face all day!

Best. Ever. French. Toast.
Possibly the most indulgent breakfast of all time, french toast New York style.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 sourdough boule, sliced to 3/4 inch thick slices
  2. 1 pint good quality vanilla ice cream
  3. 1 large egg, beaten
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. Ground cinnamon, to taste
  6. Optional: 1/2 tsp orange extra, or a bit of orange zest, for a lighter flavour
For serving…
  1. Maple Syrup
  2. Butter
Cook!
  1. Start by melting the ice cream in the microwave until it’s a nice, soupy consistency – you may not need the whole pint depending on how much french toast you intend to make.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg and add the vanilla extract and cinnamon (and orange extract/zest if you’re using them) and whisk gently again to combine. Next, add the melted ice cream and whisking gently again to combine everything – do not overmix as this will toughen the egg and you’ll end up with a more custardy bread.
  3. Dip the brioche slices in the melted ice cream and egg mixture, letting the slices rest for a few seconds on each side.
  4. Melt a bit of butter in a heated frying pan and place the eggy brioche slices in the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds on each side over a medium-high heat, turning as needed to prevent burning. When the slices are lightly browned, they’re good to take off of the heat.
  5. To serve, lather the slices with butter and warm maple syrup. Or top with sliced berries and sprinkle with icing sugar, or warm some jam to make a fruit syrup to pour over.
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
“Boozy” Mac & Cheese

“Boozy” Mac & Cheese

I used to dislike mac and cheese with an unholy passion.  It was at the top of my “things you couldn’t pay me to eat” list, together with fish pie and recognisable offal *boke!*  To be fair, I’m not a cheese fan at the best of times (and yet the stinky cheese board always ends up next to me at dinner parties >.<) but I blame my almost obsessive contempt for the cheesy pasta on school dinners whose mac and cheese was utter utter utter foulness!  It must have been made from a powder mix because it was always oddly gritty and a little watery.  I don’t think I ever touched it again after leaving school, not even in a poshed up Italian restaurant “four cheese pasta” style.  But you can’t be married to an American and avoid the stuff forever… So it was with huge trepidation that I agreed to let Hubby reintroduce me to this dish last year, and thank God I did because it is, quite honestly, one of my favourite things that he cooks for me now, much to his disbelief and amusement.

He also can’t leave well enough alone so it’s gone through several iterations, from a roux based sauce to a now wine based one (Hubby says – Thanks Heston!).  Not that it tastes remotely boozy, the alcohol is well cooked off to leave just the delicious flavour of the wine behind which sets the mixture of cheeses up perfectly.  Try it this way and I promise you’ll never do this with a roux again 🙂

"Boozy" Mac & Cheese
Serves 4
A classic American dish, updated with a wine based cheese sauce.
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Ingredients
  1. Stuff you’ll need…
  2. 160g block of strong/sharp cheddar (Isle of Mull extra mature is our current fave)
  3. 60-100g block of Taleggio (or any full fat semi hard non-cheddar cheese, emmental or brie would also work)
  4. 100g Philadelphia cream cheese, full fat
  5. 250-350g fusilli or penne
  6. 500ml white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio work well)
  7. 500ml hot chicken stock
  8. 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
  9. 1 tbsp corn flour (1.5 tbsp at a push)
Instructions
  1. Cook!
  2. 1. Pour the white wine into the medium saucepan and place over a medium to high heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the wine has reduced right down to approx 50ml/quarter cup.
  3. 2. While the wine is reducing, roughly grate your blocks of cheese into a mixing bowl – if the non-cheddar is a softish cheese it might be easier to just tear it into small pieces. (Hubby says – This really can’t be too cheesey so don’t be stingy with the cheese, and if you have leftover bits of different cheddars taking up space in the fridge then mix them all in too). Sprinkle the corn flour over the grated cheeses and mix with your fingers until it’s thoroughly coated the cheese
  4. 3. Fill the large saucepan with water and place over a high heat until its boiling. Salt liberally before adding the pasta – you want to time this with When the wine looks to have reduced right down. Cook the pasta for 10 mins, or according to the packet instructions.
  5. 4. While the pasta is cooking, add the chicken stock to the wine reduction. Whisk gently and return to the boil. Once it’s bubbling away, add the grated cheese and cornflour to the wine/stock mix and stir slowly with the whisk until the cheese has melted right in. Add the Cayenne pepper too. Leave on a low heat while the pasta cooks.
  6. 5. Just before the pasta is ready, add the cream cheese to the wine/stock/cheese mixture and gently mix with the whisk until it’s all incorporated and looking like a happy cheese sauce. If the sauce doesn’t look thick enough at this point, mix a bit of cornflour with water and add to the cheese mix. A minute or two cooking should thicken the sauce nicely. Remove from heat.
  7. 6. When the pasta is ready (you’re aiming for al dente), drain, and then return the pasta to the saucepan it was cooked in. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and mix well (if a film has appeared on the cheese mix while it was off the heat just whisk it back into the sauce first). Season with black pepper and mix again, and then transfer it all to your baking dish.
  8. 7. Cover the pasta with a bit more shredded cheese and put in the oven under the grill until the cheese is melted and nicely gratinated.
Notes
  1. Also nice with a bit of shredded ham hock stirred through it if you don’t want something meatless.
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/