Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beer Spiked Pulled Pork Tacos and a Winner

First things first, in my last post I had a giveaway for some recipe cards and the winner is the fabulous Beth of Delicious Inspiration. To be fair, the first number spat out was 3, but I know Mr. Stoutmaster and I can just give him a few recipe cards if he wants, so I pushed the button again and got 2. It's all very fair around here. Anyways, Beth, congratulations and I'll be emailing you about where to send the cards.

Beer Spiked Pulled Pork

Next order of business: dinner. This is always a question on my mind, especially since lately every day brings new surprises. For example last night a huge storm blew through the greater Chicago area and now I, and almost a hundred thousand other people, are left without power. Last update said that we may be waiting for a few more days before the power is back so when I get home tonight I'll have the sad duty of throwing out half the contents of my freezer and fridge. Luckily, before the power went out last night I ate the last of the beer pork in some yummy tacos, so at least one item was saved. As for tonight, I'll be valiantly trying to save a few things so my dinner will most definitely go undocumented. But I'm pretty sure the beer will still be good.

Beer Spiked Pulled Pork Taco

Beer Spiked Pork Shoulder
I kinda winged it, so the recipe is mine

1 (~4-5 pounds) bone-in fresh pork shoulder
2 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 or 4 large onions, sliced
2 medium apples, sliced
1 bottle of your favorite beer, I used New Belgium's Somersault Ale

Preheat oven to 325°F.

I've read somewhere that you're supposed to score fat and any skin on pork in a crosshatch pattern, but I don't keep the fat after the cooking is done, so I skip this step. Feel free to do that if you want though.

Make several stabs all over meat with a small sharp knife and insert a garlic sliver in each hole. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 4 to 5 quart dutch oven or ovenproof heavy pot over and brown the pork on all sides, turning occasionally with tongs. Try not to swear too much because the sucker is heavy. Once it's evenly browned, remove the pork to a plate.

Add onions and apples to the pot pot and sauté over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes more.

Carefully add in the beer. It will foam up, so you may want to add it slowly. Let everything simmer for a bit, scraping up the caramelized bits off the bottom and then carefully put the pork back into the pot. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid (I also put a sheet of foil between the lid and the pot for an extra sealed fit) and braise pork in middle of oven until very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning every half hour or so to keep things even.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a bit. Take out the bones and shred the meat right into the onions and juices, mixing everything up. If you want you could also add some BBQ sauce to the mix, but I liked it with all the original flavors. Simmer on the stove for a few minutes until the liquid is reduced and you have a pot full of moist meaty goodness.

Stuff into tortillas with avocado and other toppings, scoop into a bun of Hawaiian bread, or serve over steamed rice and devour.

Beer Spiked Pulled Pork 2

Friday, June 10, 2011

Homemade Energy Bars and a Giveaway

I don't know about you, but when it's 100F outside I have absolutely no desire to crank up the oven, and it's been right around that for the last few days. I much prefer to shut myself up in my little home, crank up the AC and catch up on Studio 60 on Netflix. Yes, I do realize that "catch up" may not be the right term when referring to the only season of a show that was on the air 5 years ago, but hey, I'm slow when it comes to pop culture. Dinner has consisted of popsicles for the last few days, and while we're on this subject, does anyone know if it's possible to eat a popsicle without getting it all over yourself? No matter how careful I try to be, something always drips or falls. My parents knew what they were doing when we were little. We were only allowed things like popsicles and watermelon if we were in our undies, that way they could just toss us in the tub or hose us down at the end.

The other side effect of this heat is my complete inability to retain even the shortest thread of thought. I'll have lists and lists building in my head of things I need to do and then...wait, where was I going with this? See what I'm talking about? I'm useless when it's this hot. Oh yeah, I've been meaning to tell you about a class I took this spring. It has nothing to do with food, but I found a way to connect the dots. I took an introductory letterpress class at Evanston Print and Paper, an adorable little shop that offers a variety of different paper craft type classes. It was really cool learning about the different machinery and techniques, and one of the many things I designed were recipe cards, so that's what I'm giving away:

Recipe Cards

What do you think? Cute, right? Yes, yes, I'm fishing for compliments here. I'm slightly considering selling these on Etsy, but first I thought I'd share them with someone, so leave a comment below making sure to leave some kind of contact information before Wednesday June 15th midnight and if you win, I'll send you 10 of these hot off the press recipe cards. Good luck!

Recipe Cards 2

Anyways, onto today's recipe! I was looking for a quick and portable breakfast when I stumbled onto these energy bars. They're like the granola bars I see people eating on the train, but better. They're chock full of nuts and dates and cocoa, taste fantastic, and don't require me to crank up the oven or the stove to make. I did tweak the recipe a teeny tiny bit, but otherwise left it alone and I've been eating these for breakfast almost every day this week with an ice cold glass of milk. Yum!.

Energy Bar

Energy Bars
Adapted slightly from Sea salt with Food; mine aren't entirely raw

2 Cups (300g) moist Medjool dates, pitted and chopped*
2 Cups (280g) raw cashews
1/2 Cup (60g) roasted almonds
3/4 Cup (75g) Cocoa Powder
A Pinch Of Sea Salt
1/2 Cup (40g) Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
2 to 3 Tbsp apple juice

* Don't forget to pit the dates. I did and almost broke my food processor then spent a few messy minutes picking the seeds back out, which was not fun. So do as the instructions say and don't be dumb like me.

Line an 8"x8" square pan with aluminum foil or Seran wrap, or parchment. Basically anything that will make it easier to pull the mess out of the pan later.

Combine chopped dates, cashews, almonds, cocoa powder, cinnamon and sea salt in a food processor. Pulse and process all the ingredients together until the texture is coarse. Then add the shredded coconut, a quick pulse, and add the vanilla extract, a little juice at a time until it reaches a dry but moist dough consistency. Scrape the dough mixture into the lined pan, press evenly with a rubber spatula, your fingers or the bottom of a glass (I used all three) and chill for about an hour before cutting. Cut into squares, wrap each one individually and keep on a tray by the door so that you can grab one on your way out.

Energy Bar 2