Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pulled Pork with Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce and Slaw

Nothing says summer like a pulled pork sandwich, but if you've been making yours with classic tomato-based BBQ sauce, you really are missing out. In my opinion, the better version is made the way they way they like them in the Carolina's, using a mustard-based sauce instead.

Julian's Pulled Pork with Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
These are great for parties and above I'm putting them on smaller 'slider' buns.

The day before you plan to make the pulled pork, you should prepare the mustard sauce, as time in the refrigerator helps the flavors to meld. But if you don't have the time to do this in advance, you can skip the advance preparation and it will still be good.

Many cuts of pork work for a pulled pork recipe and you can use whatever you have on hand or prefer. Myself I like to use a pork shoulder or butt, as these have more flavor and fat. I know some use a full pork loin, and that certainly will work. But it is a rather lean cut of meat and is boneless, so not ideal unless you really need to make a large volume.

Browning the Pork
You can prepare the pork in the oven, in a crock-pot or on the grill.  They key is that the meat be braised (browned on the outside and then slowly cooked for a long time) until it's fork tender. As I have many other things to do today, I'm going to use the Crockpot (slow cooker). Shown above is a little trick I use to stabilize cuts of meat when I'm browning them on all sides. The fork holds the meat in place.

Mmmm Mmmmm Good!
You can also use this sauce to brush on meats you are grilling. It goes particularly well with grilled pork chops and chicken.

1 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
ground black pepper to taste
3-5 pound pork butt or shoulder roast, bone in preferred
Small Spanish onion, chopped


Mix all ingredients except the pork in an airtight container. Combine and refrigerate (preferably 24 hours, although less will work too.)

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce
Rub the meat with vegetable oil. Brown the pork on all sides using a skillet, the grill or a Dutch oven on the stove top. Saute the chopped onion in the drippings. Then cook it slowly until very tender with the onions.

Grill:  If you grill the meat initially over high heat, move it off of the direct heat once browned and reduce the grill temperature to 325F.  Move the pork roast into a pan to finish cooking. Cook with grill lid closed for about 3-4 hours.  Add wet wood chips for smoke if you desire.

Oven: If using a Dutch oven, after browning in a hot skillet, place in the vessel, add water half way up on the sides of the meat, toss in the sauteed onions, cover and place in a 325F oven for 3-4 hours. Check periodically to ensure the vessel has not gone dry.

Crockpot: If you are using a Crockpot, place the browned roast into the Crockpot with the sauteed onions. Add 1 cup water. Cook covered on the high setting for 3-4 hours or the low setting for 6-7 hours. I like a slow cooking so I prefer the latter.

When the meat is easy to pull apart with a fork, remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Drain the fat and remove the bone. On a cutting board or on a cookie sheet with sides, shred the pork by using two forks to pull it apart.

Warm the mustard BBQ sauce in a pot over very low heat then stir into the shredded pork. Serve on buns. Goes well with a side of Carolina Cole slaw, recipe below. Real southerners like the slaw right on the sandwich.

Sauced and Ready to Serve
As noted above, using a vinegar-based slaw dressing is highly desirable instead of the traditional creamy dressing we use most of the time here in the northern part of the United States. If you haven't had a Carolina slaw before, you chop the cabbages or purchase the shredded cabbage as you normally would. Then you make the dressing. My complete recipe is shown below.

Slaw Ready for Vinegar-Based Dressing

Carolina Slaw with Vinegar Dressing

1 large head of cabbage, finely shredded
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium sweet onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated

OR you can substitute the above for two (2) bags of Dole Classic Cole Slaw (14 ounce each).
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cider vinegar

Place all of the dressing ingredients into a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir to combine. Bring ingredients to a low boil stirring regularly. Remove from heat. Pour over cabbage and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3-4 hours.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Louisiana Crayfish or Langostino Casserole

Dishes like this are common throughout the south wherever a good supply of small crustaceans is available. Often at parties you'll see casseroles like this one. Having had a bag of langostino tails in the freezer that got overlooked during the winter, I'm making this recipe today with that shellfish instead of crayfish tails.

Ready for the Oven ~ Tasty Langostinos
Crayfish, also known as crawfish or crawdads, are crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related but they live only in fresh water not salt water like their much larger cousins. In the United States, a langostino is an alternate name for the squat lobster. But a squat lobster is not a true lobster but rather is more closely related to the hermit crab. In any case, the crayfish tail and the langostino tail are so very similar you can use either one in this dish and get the same results.  I get bags of langostino tails at Costco in the freezer case. I usually add them to pasta in place of shrimp. I think you could substitute shrimp in this dish as well.

Julian's Louisiana Crayfish Casserole
I'm also cleaning out my pantry and using up leftover items and this recipe is perfect for that. Use either left over white cooked rice or the pouches of pre-cooked ready-serve rice. Fresh white rice will have too much moisture for use in this recipe, so use it at least day old. I like the little crunch the celery provides, but you could omit it if you prefer. If you do, the dish will be less moist unless you compensate.  All the amounts are approximate and as I always say, use what you have. This dish is not that particular and comes out good every time.

1 (10 3/4 ounce) can French onion soup
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
Simple Ingredients
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 (4 ounce) can chilies, diced, drained
2 cups (about) white rice, cooked
1⁄2 chopped bell pepper
1⁄2 cup chopped green onion
1⁄3 cup chopped fresh parsley
          or 2 tablespoons dry
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Creole or Cajun seasoning
1 pound crayfish or langostino tails, thawed

1⁄2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Stir together all the ingredients except shellfish and cheeses. Gently stir in the shellfish and transfer into a large casserole prepared with cooking spray (Pam) or rubbed with butter.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and baked 25 minutes more. Sprinkle cheeses over casserole and return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Fresh From the Oven

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Lite Summer Chicken Salad

This is my healthy yet flavorful version of chicken salad that is served on a lettuce leaf. For summer I usually opt for this version served alongside a few slices of tomatoes.

Julian's Lite Summer Chicken Salad
It's lighter than most chicken salads because it uses Greek yogurt in place of most of the mayonnaise and sheds the typical bread/bun for some fruit additions. My classic chicken salad sandwich doesn't include the fruits, which don't work as well on a bun and instead has egg and celery.

A Simple Ingredient List
For the chicken breast, you can poach your own or you can used a good brand of canned chicken. If using canned, and I do so when I need a quick luncheon, I opt for the Costco Kirkland brand which is a 12.5 ounce can and then I go a little light on the other ingredients. For the grapes, either white or red seedless are fine. If they are very large they should be cut into pieces similar in size to the apples and dried berries.

If you use the full pound of chicken the recipe will serve 4 adults with side of crispy French bread. The 12.5 ounce can of chicken will serve 2-3 adults.

Julian's Lite Summer Chicken Salad
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced apple
1/3 cup dried cranberries or blueberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds or walnut pieces
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and black pepper, to taste

2/3 cup seedless grapes, quartered
12-16 ounces chicken breast
    cooked/cleaned/cut up

Leaf lettuce (for serving)
Tomato wedges (for serving)

In a large bowl stir together the onion, apple, dried berries, nuts, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Gently fold in the chicken and grapes. Do not over mix to ensure chunks of chicken and unmashed grapes. Serve on a lettuce leaf surrounded by tomato wedges.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Loaf

Lemon and blueberry are my favorite combination this time of the year. As you've noted in past recipes, I use these flavors in pies and other desserts regularly. Last year I even did a low-sugar breakfast bread for Mother's Day.

Julian's Zested Lemon and Blueberries
Today I'm making a lemon blueberry loaf that is fast and easy and is great at breakfast, with coffee anytime or as dessert. You could substitute Splenda Baking Blend for the sugar, just remember that to use half-cup of Splenda Sugar Blend in place of one cup of sugar. I list the glaze as optional, because the loaf is so delicious and sweet on its own, it really isn't required especially if you are using it as a breakfast bread. If you are serving it as dessert, then I would suggest including it along with a dollop of fresh blueberry sauce.

Ingredients (Makes One, 8" x 4" Standard Loaf)
Wet Ingredients Mixed and Ready
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
Zest of one lemon, about 2 tablespoons grated
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 pint or about 1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon flour

Glaze  (optional)
2 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Julian's un-glazed Lemon Blueberry Loaf
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray your loaf pan with food release (Pam).  Alternatively you may rub the pan with butter, then dust lightly with flour.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer add the softened butter, and mix for 1 minute. Add the sugar and cream together until fluffy, another minute. Add the lemon juice and eggs and mix until combined.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; and mix or hand stir into egg mixture a little at a time, alternating dry mixture and milk. Toss the blueberries in one tablespoon flour (to ensure they do not fall to the bottom of the batter.) Fold in lemon zest, optional nuts and blueberries. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a pick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Glaze: Combine lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl stirring until you reach the right consistency adding more sugar or water to your liking. Drizzle glaze over top of cooled loaf and let sit for 60 minutes until it begins to dry. Serve or store on your counter until ready to serve. Refrigerate if holding for more than 8 hours.