June 19, 2015
Joy of joys! Andrew, Henriët, and Jurgen came out from Chicago in June for a full three week visit. The weather was warm allowing us to pack a lot of fun into the days and nights: friend visits, a trip to Sunriver for a few days, and of course cooking to bring it all together.
Pulled Pork and Pasta Salad
Al, one of Andrew’s college friends, and Tristan, one of Andrew’s high school friends, came over for a visit. Of course we know Tristan pretty well since he was part of Andrew’s music friends in high school. We’ve seen Al a few times back in Tucson and he’s stayed with us here as well. These are great guys; it gives us great satisfaction to meet and talk with Andrew’s friends; I can’t think of one we have any issues with.
Andrew and Henriët are vegetarian but that doesn’t mean I was going to forgo meat for three weeks. I hadn’t made pulled pork in over a year and wanted to challenge myself with cooking it on my Weber gas grill instead of my Mak pellet smoker.
The three ingredients of barbecue are meat, smoke, and time. Just behind that is the sauce, about which there is much argument. Should it be spicy or sweet? Mustard or tomato based? What about vinegar sauces? My preference is for a tangy red sauce that isn’t too sweet. I’ve blogged about this Cook’s Illustrated sauce a LOT and for good reason. It is fantastic. The recipe can be found here; you can find blog posts with details here and here.
Quarter the onion and mix in the food processor with a bit of water until it looks like ice for a sno-cone. Press the water out of the slurry through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. Mix the liquid ingredients together in a big bowl (it will look disgusing). Sauté the aromatics in oil for less than a minute then stir in the liquid ingredients, bring to a low boil then reduce heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Let the flavors meld and BAM! you have a delicious barbecue sauce that someone said would make a brick taste good.
I have a mustard sauce recipe I plan to make sometime this summer. Maybe when I write that up I’ll include a summary of all the BBQ sauces I’ve made through the years.
I brined the butt with Alton Brown’s recipe of water, molasses and white sugar; I used Chris Lily’s rub for this cook. Here are the simple rub ingredients (except I didn’t include the required brown sugar).
After an overnight brine I rubbed the pork shoulder and put it on the Weber gas grill
That gadget on the right is an “Amazen Pellet Tube Smoker“. To generate smoke simply fill it with cooking wood pellets and light one end (I use a little blow torch) and it slowly burns from one end of the other generating some nice thin white smoke. Next time I’ll try placing it underneath the grill grates for better coverage. I also think I’ll forego the water pan as it slowed the cooking a little.
About 12 hours the pork fall-off-the-bone ready.
While that was cooking Henriët and Carla made my favorite summer pasta; perfect when the tomatoes are ripe. Simply combine diced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, garlic, olive oil, basil and crushed red pepper flakes with some cooked pasta (we use penne which is perfect). The recipe can be found here.
Make sure you use fresh mozzarella; the kind swimming in water. If you use the shrink wrapped stuff, you’ll ruin dinner.
It was perfect weather for eating outdoors on the deck. Jurgen ate with us and got into a pointing game.
Andrew loves the pointing game too!