Saturday, June 18, 2011

Goodies from a pot luck dinner

The other night I hosted a gang of 12 for dinner. I made a delicious radish dip (we ate it with cubes of a sourdough baguette), and the main course--my famous pulled pork. On hearing about the pulled pork, one friend insisted that she bring an old-fashioned cole slaw, which was more delicious than I thought possible. Other contributions were a vegetable dish (green beans with edamame tossed in a lemon dressing), a cheese platter, and a rhubarb-strawberry crumble with shortbread topping.

It was a glorious meal, both because the food was excellent, and because the conversation never flagged. I hope that by sharing some of the recipes, I'll extend the pleasure of the evening.

Best Ever Shredded Pork
Sometime in the late 1990's, Cook's Illustrated highlighted a way to make the best pulled pork.  My husband and I were renting a house that summer in the Berkshires, so we had access to a grill.  We followed the recipe instructions, and were simply blown away by the flavor.  I've made it countless times since, often by beginning it on a grill, but sometimes just roasting it in the oven (like when the snow prohibits access to the grill).  It's always delicious. 

Here are the various steps in preparing the pulled pork.  Plan ahead because the pork should marinate in the rub for at least one day, and then you need to cook it.  And don't forget that like many such dishes, it tastes better the day after it cooks.

Spice rub

1 T ground black pepper
2 t cayenne
1 - 2 T chili powder
2 T ground cumin
2 T dark brown sugar
1 T ground oregano
4 T paprika
2 T salt
1 T granulated sugar
1 T ground white pepper

Mix all ingredients in small bowl.

Mid-South Carolina mustard sauce
1 c cider vinegar
6 T dijon
2 T maple syrup or honey
4 t Wor sauce
1 t hot red pepper sauce
1 c veg oil
2 t salt
ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl.

Pulled Pork
6-8 lb pork butt (bone in)
Mustard of your choice (mine is Dijon)
Spicy chili rub
Mid-South Carolina mustard sauce

Use 3-6 T Dijon mustard to coat pork butt. Then massage chili rub onto meat, wrap tightly in plastic wrap at least 3 hours and not more than 72 hours before cooking.

At 1 hour before cooking, remove pork from refrigerator and let stand at room temp. Fire up whatever type of grill you use, and cook pork butt from 1-3 hours. When you think the pork butt has had enough in the grill, preheat your oven to 325. Place the roast in a pan and dribble about half of the sauce over it. Wrap with foil to cover completely. Roast in the oven for about 2 hours, or until meat is fork-tender.

Put foil wrapped roast in pan into doubled grocery bag. Crimp top and let roast rest 1 hour.Pull pork and mix with 1 c sauce, reserving rest for passing at table.

Elizabeth Keen's Spring Radish Dip

Elizabeth Keen, the wonder farmer at Indian Line Farm, handed out this recipe a few years ago at the Great Barrington Farmers Market.  She had bread cubes available so one could easily sample the dip, which was so refreshing that I simply had to take the recipe.  Like so many things, I lost it and didn't make it until the other night, when the recipe miraculously turned up just in time for the dinner party.

One of my profoundest flaws is that I like to prepare things early so I don't have to worry about loose ends when guests arrive.  Mostly making things ahead doesn't cause any trouble, but I just learned the hard way that when dealing with radishes in any form (including horseradish), do not, I repeat DO NOT make the dishes too far ahead of serving.  I learned that from a Cook's Illustrated article in their most recent issue that horseradish dilutes itself.  And I guess radishes do, too.  At any rate, this delicious dip was delicious even though it had been made the day before serving, but it would have been supremely delicious if I'd made it closer to serving time.  Remember this when making it.  Please.

8 oz package cream cheese
1-2 T prepared horseradish, drained
1 t dill
1/2 t salt
1-2 bunches red radishes, diced

Mix ingredients together.  You might want to run them through a food processor to smooth them out.  Chill for 1/2 hour before serving.  This will make 2-3 cups.

Now for the surprise shocker.  Denise Flamino brought the most amazing cole slaw.  For years I've systematically ignored, indeed frowned upon, cole slaws that use mayo or cream.  Oil and vinegar has been my lodestar here.  So a major taste sensation awaited me.  Here's what she did.

3/4 c mayonnaise
3 T sugar
1 1/2 T white wine vinegar
1/3 c oil
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t onion powder
1/8 t dry mustard
1/8 t celery salt
1 T lemon juice
1/2 c half & half
1/4 t salt
1 head cabbage finely shredded

Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, white wine vinegar and oil.  Blend in garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, celery salt, lemon juice, half & half, and salt.  Toss with finely shredded cabbage.  This isn't just delicious.  It's seriously addictive.  Bobby Houston and I fought over the remains of the bowl, leaving nary a trace of the sauce.  Don't dismiss this til you've tried it.

So this is a good start on a casual but uber-tasty dinner.  Bon appetit!

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