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Easy Peasy Pulled Pork

October 25, 2016

Credit: Link

As a modern gal with roots in both Georgia and New York, you could say, I've been spoiled with great food surrounding me at all times.  Southern and soulful foods around every corner in Atlanta... New York City's food scene was a foodie's delight - delivered at any hour, if one is hungry enough! But, having moved from the East Coast to an medieval village in Austria, my spoiled belly has become more creative in its self-preservation... Don't get me wrong, there is a ton of good, no, GREAT food here, too.  It just doesn't remind me of 'home'.  These days, I've embraced my cravings more as challenges.  I've also learned that everything can be made from scratch - and, often, it tastes even better! 

Now, I am no BBQ pit master, by any means... but, darn it, if that's going to stop me from making some pulled pork and baked beans when the craving hits!

Since I don't have a smoker or twelve hours to wait for a brine to work, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do... she's gotta improvise!  I researched a few recipes - a few long ones and a few short ones - and came up with this relatively quick and easy way to get pulled pork all the way over here in Austria.

This recipe was a cinch to make... and tasted great!  It's the closest thing to real Southern pulled pork that I've had in a long time!  I didn't serve it traditionally on a bun or with mac and cheese... I put the pulled pork on a floured tortilla and dressed it with fresh avocado and red onion... and a splash of lime juice - it was a great symphony of tastes.  Try it!  It's delicious!

Update: And, for my European friends who want to try the whole Southern experience from scratch, here are a few starting points:

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Mac & Cheese from Epicurious

Baked Beans from Pioneer Woman (I would skip the bell pepper.)

Cole Slaw from Martha Stewart

Even Quicker Pulled Pork Soft Tacos from Martha Stewart

Easy Peasy, Pulled Pork 
* adapted from here and here

Dry Rub
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp chili powder
(1 Tbsp per 2-3 lb pork shoulder)

few dashes of cayenne pepper

a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce

Optional Fixin's
baked beans
chopped red onions
flour tortillas

1.  Combine all of the seasonings.  Rub onto the pork.  Get into every crack and crevice!

2.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour minimum... 2-3 hours should do it.

3.  Pre-heat oven to 300 deg F.

4.  Place pork onto roasting pan and roast for 5-6 hours.   If you've got the luxury of more time, go slower for longer time at this low heat... it'll taste even better!  Rotate the meat every now and then while it roasts... every side needs to develop that flavorful crust.

5.  Baste with BBQ sauce around the 5 hour mark.

6.  Pork should be done at 190-200 deg F.  It's ready when the meat falls apart when shredded with a fork. (Naughty tip: I shred the pork directly in the roasting pan with all of the lingering flavor, oil, and burned bits.  Don't pour out the oil, unless it's really too much.  Shredding it directly in the pan eliminates dry pulled pork.)  Cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve.

7.  Warm a few flour tortillas.

8.  Layer on the pulled pork, avocados, red onions, and a squeeze of fresh lime.  Add a side of baked beans and an ice-cold beer.  Devour!


Paula's Granola

October 14, 2016

When we lived in the West Village a few years ago, our apartment was on the ninth floor of a great building.  We were just steps from Washington Square Park, and, quite literally, steps from the coolest neighbors ever.  There were only five apartments on that floor... and, rarely anyone locked their doors while they were home... hell, some even had their doors wide open.  It was the closest thing to a Friends living scenario that I've ever had.

One of these fabulous neighbors was Paula.  She lived in her apartment since the early days of her young adulthood when she worked in the TV biz (way before I was born!).  She had an incredible view of the Empire State Building... I kid you not, it was an entire wall of small, vintage glass panes... and at nine stories up, the view was just grand.

Credit: Link

She had a passion for interior design (her apartment was impeccable) and a passion for food (she also had a stint in catering).  Every now and again, Paula would ring our doorbell and hand over to me her latest culinary creation.  A container of Matzo Ball Soup, a tub of freshly made pesto, a plate of this or that.  What could I say? She lived alone and I loved being her extra mouth to feed.

One day, Paula handed me a box of something that totally changed my world view... of granola, that is!  She told me I would never go back to store-bought, and she was right! (Except for that one time I had a momentary relapse... forgive me, Paula, I'll never do that again!)

Now, I know that there's a gazillion recipes to make granola... or rather, a gazillion different ingredients... and, they all sound quite yummy... exotic... and, sometimes, a little expensive.  But, this granola is so simple, so lively, so open to collaboration with anything you want to throw at it... that I haven't been tempted enough to try any of the others because Paula's granola is just so, so good.

It's so good that Lil will request this granola with a bit of plain yogurt, fresh, cut fruit (or fruit jam, if we're naughty), and, a little maple syrup, for good measure.

Paula's Granola with Raisins and Walnuts

I like this recipe because I get to control the 'clumpiness' of the granola.  I don't like some of the extra-large tasteless, clumps in store-bought granola... and, the taste is simply so much better than store-bought.  I mix up the types of ingredients based on what I have left in the pantry - sometimes it's honey/agave or honey/maple as sweeteners, sometimes I add nuts or not, or sometimes  dried fruit... or not.  It's just so easy going, this recipe, that it could be all of those other granola recipes if you want to throw anything else in... or not.  It's a great base recipe.  It just goes with the flow...  just like I like it.

Paula's Granola

4 C rolled oats
1/2 C neutral oil
1/2 C sweetener (honey, agave syrup, maple syrup)
dash of spices (ground ginger, cinnamon)
chopped nuts
dried fruit

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg F.

2. Pour granola into a large baking tray.

3. Grab a 1 C measuring cup.  Pour in 1/2 C neutral oil and 1/4 C honey and 1/4 C maple syrup.  Mix well.

4.  In a nice toss-and-stir motion, gradually drizzle the mixed liquids into the granola.

5.  Once uniformly mixed, add the ground spices.

6.  Add the chopped nuts, or not.

7.  Pop into the oven for 15 min.  After 15 minutes, take the tray out and stir everything.  Pop back into the oven for the remaining 15 minutes. 

8.  In the last 5-10 minutes, add your dried fruit, or not.

9.  Take the granola out and give it a good, final stir.  Things won't feel too crunchy yet... give it time... it'll harden while it rests... Once rested, the granola will have hardened but all you need to do is to stir it 'round with a spoon.  Pour into an air-tight container, and you're good to go!

Thank you, Paula, for this tasty gem...
It will live on in our morning rituals,
 as will all of our other
memories together!