March 31, 2010

Pulled pork

Melissa Mead, 21 March 2010, PWYF forum

Our local butcher, who is awesome, found us a beautiful 3-4 lb Boston Butt on sale for $5. We took that home. I mixed up 1 cup of cider vinegar, 1 tsp each liquid smoke and garlic powder and ½ tsp Smokehouse pepper and chopped up 2 sweet onions. We put all that in the fridge overnight.

At 6 AM we set up the crock pot. We put 1 onion on the bottom, then the pork, then the other onion, shook the liquid, and poured it on top. We covered the crock pot, set it on High and went back to bed.

By 10 AM the house smelled like meaty, oniony goodness. We tried to make a sauce, but it burned. Oh well. At noon we took out the pork. It split into 2 pieces, and the shoulder blade came out clean.
You know how you should be able to pull apart the pork with 2 forks? I only needed 1. This stuff was so tender I think I could’ve pulled it with a spoon. I was eating it straight out of the pot.

Meatloaf

Black Bear, 27 March 2010, recipe thread

4 slices worth of breadcrumbs, preferably from pumpernickel bread.
1/2 c milk
3 eggs
1.5 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp salt
1/2 c grated Parmesean cheese
1 TBL dried parsley, rubbed
1.5 tsp dried basil, rubbed

Mix the breadcrumbs and milk together in a good-size bowl. Let the mixture sit for a minute, and if it seems soggy, add more breadcrumbs. If it seems dry, add a splash more milk. The crumbs should just be kind of moist and fluffy.

Add in the eggs and mix thoroughly.

Add the salt, cheese, and herbs (and a bit of black pepper if you like it, which I don’t) and mix well. Then add in the ground beef. I find this mixes best by hand, like kneading dough. If it seems too wet at this point, add in more breadcrumbs.

Now, you can do what I do, which is make it into meatballs, cover them in tomato sauce and bake it, then serve over pasta or in sandwiches the next day; or you can put it in a loaf pan and bake it like a traditional meat loaf, 350°F for an hour. I’d still put a bit of tomato sauce or ketchup over the top before baking, because it keeps it from drying out, but if you’re not a fan of tomato then you might try covering it loosely with foil.

Chocolate Orange Shortbread

Robin, 30 March 2010, Chocolate and ranunculus

Robin says:

This is originally from the second Rosie’s bakery book—the Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No Holds Barred Cookie Book—except I’ve messed it around in small and medium-sized crucial ways because I’m like that.

Chocolate Orange Shortbread

1 large egg

½ tsp orange essence (remember I’m talking about ESSENCE not FLAVOURING.  Essence is pure distilled oranges and strong)

2 c ordinary unbleached white flour

¼ c fine rice flour (you can use all ordinary flour, but a little rice flour assists that shortbread to-die-for melting texture)

Probably half a cup of sugar.  This is one of those places where you need to experiment (I know, I know, I’m already expecting you to experiment with the flour).  The original recipe calls for 6T confectioners’/icing sugar and 2T regular granulated.  This is about texture again.  A lot of granulated sugar will give it a gritty texture—which is lovely, by the way—pure icing sugar will make it wickedly smooth.  I like 6/2 but that’s not always what I use.

1 T grated orange zest (REMEMBER TO BE CAREFUL TO AVOID THE WHITE PITH.  Which will make it bitter.  And for pity’s, and your liver’s, sake, if you’re going to be eating the rind, buy an organic orange.  Your average commercial orange is sprayed forty-six ways to Sunday, and not all of it will wash off)

1 c slightly salted butter, soft enough to work but not runny

6 oz very good very dark chocolate, chopped, grated or shaved.  Chopped is easiest.  I like the texture of grated, if your chosen chocolate will put up with this.

Cut the butter up fairly small and mix it loosely into the flour, and then start rubbing it together seriously either with your hands or the back of a spoon.  When it all gets to the coarse crumbs stage, make a well in the middle of it, break your egg into the well, add the orange essence, and beat gently with a fork so the egg and essence get blended before you mix it into the flour and butter.  Then mush it into the flour and butter.  At the end of this stage you should have a fairly homogenous blob in your bowl.  Then knead in the chocolate till it’s evenly distributed.  Unless you’re planning on feeding the chocolate-free end to someone you’re mad at.

At this point you’re supposed to pat it into a cylinder, wrap it up and put it into the refrigerator for a few hours, and then slice it into discs.  If you actually want to put off making them, this is fine.  If you’re a lazy, last-minute slut like me . . . slap the dough into the middle of a cookie sheet with edges and pat it out to the rim.  There’s enough butter to make it come out again easily, but if you want to make one extra step (and even I will acknowledge this is a good one), cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your cookie sheet, put the dough in the middle of that and then you can roll it out to size, which you’re not going to be able to do easily on a sheet with edges—but you want those edges to contain the creature.  You then transfer the parchment paper—cut it long enough to provide you with handles—to the cookie sheet.  You can also not pat/roll quite to the edge of rimless sheets to allow room for squidge, but then it doesn’t bake quite evenly and the finished product doesn’t look quite so satisfactory (I think).

It’s a good idea to mark out the lines you’re going to want to cut on later, but if you forget you can just break it.  Crazy-paving shortbread is fetchingly artless.

Baking is also a slightly find-out-what-suits-you-and-your-oven situation.  I like 325°F for about half an hour.  It may take as much as 45 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie sheet and the thickness of your dough.  Your shortbread should be visibly golden (despite chocolate mottling) and you do want it crunchy.  (Probably.  Doughy shortbread is supposed to be anathema but I think it’s rather good.)  If you’ve patted it out evenly then you can stick a knife point delicately in the middle and if it goes crunch you’re set.  In fact take it out immediately or it will overcook.  It will get crunchier as it cools and you don’t want it brittle.  Let cool before you finish cutting/breaking.