BBQ Bonanza 2011 continues with our third guest post. Sharon Miro writes the Nickle Moon blog and I've loved her posts, loved her friendship on Twitter. She was one of our first guest posters on this theme last year; reviewing the Kansas City BBQ Cookbook last year. Her stories can make you well up with memories of her family or laugh with her through snippets of her life now. She's a great baker, a fan of good food, and a better writer than I think she gives herself credit for. I'm thrilled to have her join us again this year.
photo credit: Denise Woodward
In this post, Sharon does what I love most: sharing a family memory and calling on that to create a new food tradition. I think Helen would be so proud. And hungry. Read on.
Pulled Heritage Pork Tacos - Channeling our Inner Helen
Guest Post by Sharon Miro
Another year, another few dozen BBQs and Family Dinners. The 150 pounds of heritage, pasture raised pig we bought last year in September is almost gone. Can you believe that? We have made sausages of various persuasions, “pulled” a record number of pounds of pork, cooked pork chops and roasts and stews and fresh hams. We have cured belly, and made 4 different kinds of bacon. We have made prosciutto and guanciale. And we are not quite done yet.
While we were reveling in the sweet taste of this pig, Charcutepalooza came along. A real national movement in how to cure and use good meat, it has hundreds of bloggers who participate and thousands of people that follow along. And there is Goaterie. Jackie started a conversation about goat with Mark and it took off, and now a second group to tout the joys of cooking with goat: milk, cheese and meat.
When Jackie asked again about a guest post, I jumped at the opportunity without a second thought as to what the subject matter might be—I knew it would be fun. I did not know that it would provoke a real awareness of what I did not know about the issue of sustainability. When I started thinking about sustainability at the grill, our subject matter for this year, I realized that this was a serious subject that could get deep pretty fast. And what did I know about it? And what could I cook that would fit in with this?
Hmm. Well, as much as I think I know, the subject of sustainability is vast. It has started feuds online, and wars in the heartland. And the more you look, the more you know you don’t know enough.
As always, when stymied by a subject I cannot quite get my arms around I try to bring it down to, as Sister Francis Loretto would say, the lowest common denominator.
Sustainability, at its root, is about common sense. About all of us using what’s readily available and easily replenished from both an environmental & social impact viewpoint.
My mother, Helen, could squeeze 2 meals out of a pound of hamburger and make pasta sauce out of what was left. Nothing went to waste in our house. My mother cooked with an economy of motion and money. If the definition of sustainability is “the capacity to endure”, my Mom had it knocked before it was popular. Her ability to take what was available and make a delicious meal is unrivaled, except perhaps for her father who could take a cold boiled potato and…well that’s another story.
I can’t tackle the entire issue of sustainability here, but I could channel my inner Helen, and figure out how she would best tackle this issue. I will be trying to expand on my thoughts about sustainability on my own blog and I hope you will visit and take a look. www.nickelmoon.com
So, back to why I am here, guest post.
I am not a big fan of ham. Cured ham that is. But I have become a fan of fresh ham and have cooked it several times in the last year in a variety of ways.
My task for the Fourth of July party that my daughter, Kristina, always has, was to cook a fresh ham from our stash of pork. Slow cooked, pulled pork with a mole inspired sauce was lurking on the edges of my mind and I decided to see if I could create 3 “sauces-rubs-marinades”, each with a different use for this dish, but with a similar flavor palate with what I had in the house.
This recipe does take a few days, so requires a bit of planning but the results are well worth it. The pork turned out better than I had hoped for, and the pork tacos were a great hit among the other great dishes there. Plus it makes enough left-overs for several meals. I hope you enjoy them too.
- Dried Chilis
- 1 TBSP Salt
- 10 Peppercorns
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 TBSP oregano
- 1 TBSP cinnamon
- 2 TBSP coriander seed
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 TSP mustard seed
- 2 TBSP cumin seed
- 1 cup dried tomatillos
- 3 cups warm water
Take the dried chilis - I used 2 each ancho and guajillo. Toast them slowly in a dry cast iron pan taking care not to let them burn. Carefully stem, and remove most of the seeds. Put them in a bowl, and cover with 2 cups of water and set aside.
Take the dried tomatillos and cover with one cup of water and set aside.
Take the rest of the spices and toast gently in the same dry pan, add them to a spice grinder an grind fine. Add to minced garlic-this should be a dryish paste.
Sauce 1 - oil rub
While the chilis and tomatillos are hydrating, mix about 2-3 TBSP of the basic paste with ¼ of olive oil. Carefully cut slits in your fresh ham. This one is about 7 pounds. Rub the paste into the ham well, and refrigerate in a covered container for 12 hours, or overnight.
After the chilis have hydrated carefully pour them into a blender and puree. Divide into 2 parts about 1/3 to 2/3.
Drain the tomatillos, use for Sauce 3 - taco sauce.
Sauce 2 - for wet marinade and cooking
- 1.5 TBSP of dry paste
- ½ C brown sugar
- 2 TBSP cocoa powder
- 1 TBSP tomato paste
- ½ C apple cider vinegar
- 1 TBSP tamarind
- Juice of one lime
- ½ C strong coffee
- 2/3 the chili mixture
Mix the above ingredients in a blender and set aside. After 12 hours in the oil rub, add ½ of the wet marinade to the container and coat thoroughly. Refrigerate for 12 hours. (I put the meat in zip-lock bag at this stage) Reserve ½ the marinade.
Sauce 3 - for Taco sauce
- 1/3 chili mixture
- 2 TBSP dry tomato paste
- 1 can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
- ½ C vinegar
- 1 cup re-hydrated tomatillos
- 1 TBSP oregano
- Salt to taste
Mix all the above in a blender until smooth. This taco sauce is dark, and rich and will keep in the fridge for up to a year.
Cooking the meat
After 1 ½ days marinating, I took the meat out, wiped off the excess marinade and let it come to room temp. I then smoked it for 3 hours, adding 6 smoke packets ( I make them myself) and then slow cooked for another 9 hours, at about 175 degrees. I use a stand alone smoker by Magic Chef.
At the 6 hour mark, I put the ham into a foil container, added the reserved cooking sauce and some red tea and cooked covered for another 4 hours. At 10 hours I removed the cover and cooked another 2 hours.
After cooking cover well, and hold for 30 minutes, or more. Then pull apart with two forks.
We served this with all the fixings for tacos including the homemade sauce.
➊ Check out our first BBQ Bonanza '11 guest post: Vinegary Herbed Goat Skewers, by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein, authors of Goat: Meat, Milk Cheese.
❷ Grilled Squid with Tamarind & Orange, by Becky Selengut, author of Good Fish
BBQ BONANZA '11 is sponsored by Silk Road BBQ, click to learn more: