now, on to business.
this week's meal is all southern, and very old school, with the exception of the fact that i used my crock pot to make BBQ instead of digging a hole in my back yard to smoke it.
on the menu
- pulled pork BBQ
- old school braised greens with indian dumplings
- honey glazed roasted carrots
- sweet josie brown ale from lonerider brewery
(there's a keg of this local brew in my garage--i thought i'd feature it along with the food.)
- fresh boston butt from fickle creek farm (efland, nc, 44 miles)*
- carrots from ben's produce (clayton, nc, 33 miles) (CSA)*
- butter from homeland creamery (julian, nc, 57 miles)
- honey from our family's bees (20 miles)
- rainbow swiss chard from ben's produce (clayton, nc, 33 miles) (CSA)*
- collard greens from ben's produce (clayton, nc, 33 miles) (CSA)*
- red pepper flakes from my friend rich's garden (durham, nc, ~15 miles)
- cornmeal from muddy dog roasting company (morrisville nc, 10 miles)*
- red pepper rib rub made by my friend karen
- apple cider vinegar
- liquid hickory smoke (real, not chemical--cause, ew)
- bone-suckin' sauce - made in north carolina, but i have zero clue from whence the ingredients come. it's as local as i can get BBQ sauce without making my own, which is a challenge in the winter.
- bacon fat - from holland brothers bacon, not local to us, but local to the grandparents who live in PA. bacon from this place is a yearly gift from our family, and it's awesome.
easy: as always, meat and produce are the no-brainers.
challenging: the semi-local ingredients here are my compromise. things like apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, and salt i KNOW i can't get locally, but the other things? well--i guess i am just trying to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible on things like that. it doesn't make sense to me to buy bacon that's local to me, when i already have bacon that was a gift from someone for whom that bacon IS local. does that make sense?
pulled pork, crock pot style (made up on the fly):
boston butt or pork shoulder roast
your favorite rib rub
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
20 or so drops of real liquid smoke
cover pork roast liberally with spice rub, and put into your crock pot. add apple cider vinegar. cook on low for 8 hours. remove pork and pull from bone with 2 forks or tongs. drain off most of liquid (reserve for soup stock or beans--trust me--keep that stuff). (note: if you are going to make the greens below, reserve a couple of ounces of meat at this stage.) return the pork to the crock pot. add a little of the cooking liquid, maybe 1/4 a cup. add the liquid smoke, and about 1/3 a cup of BBQ sauce. mix well, and cook another hour on low to mix flavors and caramelize the meat. serve with more sauce or on buns or you know--however you like to eat BBQ.
honey glazed roasted carrots (made up on the fly)
~2 tablespoons butter
~2 tablespoons honey
directions: preheat oven to 425 degrees (F). peel carrots and cut into sticks. put into a baking dish with some butter. roast for 8 minutes, then stir. roast for 8 more minutes. add honey and stir in. roast for 16 more minutes, stirring one more time half way through. carrots should be starting to caramelize when they are done. best use of fresh carrots in the world!
braised greens with indian dumplings (adapted from bill neal's southern cooking)
2.5 to 3 lbs cooking greens (collards, kale, chard, etc.)
8 cups water
~4 tablespoons bacon fat
1 teaspoon salt
2 oz pork meat or a small ham hock
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup cornmeal
1.5 tablespoons butter or bacon fat or lard
in a large stockpot or braising pot, add water, bacon fat, salt, finely chopped pork, and red pepper flakes. bring to a boil, then boil on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes. add the greens, cover tightly. return to a boil, stir down the greens, and then simmer, covered, for about 50 minutes if you are going to add indian dumplings, or an hour if you're not.
for the dumplings, place cornmeal into a small mixing bowl. steal 1/2 cup of boiling liquid from the greens, and slowly work it into the cornmeal with the back of a wooden spoon. work fat in with your fingers while the cornmeal mix is still warm. shape into small biscuit-like disks, about an inch wide and 1/2 an inch thick--it should make 16-18 of these. when the greens have been cooking for about 50 minutes, give them a final stir, then lay the dumplings on top to cook. let them cook for about 10 minutes, and voila, you have delicious little dumplings in your greens.
note: indian dumplings are like a cross between hushpuppies and gnocci. this was the first time i'd made them, but they were surprisingly easy and fast--i will most certainly make them again. i can imagine they would be delightful with soups and stews as well as in greens.
note the second: after you serve the greens, you will have quite a bit of liquid left. if you combine it with the reserved liquid from the pork, you have an EXCELLENT soup base on your hands. i generally throw this in the fridge overnight, so i can skim the fat off easily in the morning. then i put it in the freezer to use whenever. i recommend this as a base for my white bean and kale soup.
everyone at our house loves all this, and the friends we spontaneously had over for dinner last night agree. the 11-year old had 2 helpings of the greens, so--win.
southern cooking is my kitchen comfort zone, as it turns out. i feel more free with recipes and restrictions in this area than any other, and since i live in the south, it makes sense that these are the ingredients that are easiest for me to get locally. i am guessing you will see more southern food from me before this is challenge is done. meal #3 i am calling a resounding success. yay for BBQ!