Monday, January 12, 2009

Indoor Picnic: Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Oven Fries, and Homemade Ketchup

In a couple of weeks the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers will be descending on my house for a "sweep away the winter blahs" event, the theme of which is "Summer in January." I decided to take the concept for a test drive, inspired by a recipe for homemade ketchup that was in my most recent issue of Saveur. From there, it was a natural branching-out to pulled pork made with one of the last two remaining pieces of our Back Forty Acres hog and oven fries done right from the fine folks of Cook's Illustrated (aka America's Test Kitchen). Put everything on a red-and-white checkered tablecloth and I had myself an indoor summer picnic.

But first, the ketchup (Saveur Magazine, Jan/Feb 2009, p. 52).

  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp chile flakes
  • 1/4 tsp whole allspice (about 6-7 pieces)
  • 2 lbs tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 anaheim chile, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
Wrap cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, celery seeds, chile flakes, and allspice in a layer of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle and put into a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat along with tomatoes, salt, vinegar, brown sugar, onion, and anaheim chiles; smash and add the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and chiles are very soft, 40 minutes. Remove spice bundle; pureƩ sauce in a blender until smooth. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer into a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 30 minutes. Add more salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like. Transfer ketcup to a glass container. Set aside to cool. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

I didn't have any anaheim chiles; if I had done my homework beforehand I probably could have found them or an adequate substitute but the day I did my shopping for this dinner (Saturday) was such a diaster, weather-wise (you MLFBs know what I'm talking about!) that the prospect of trying to drive anywhere chilled my blood and thus I just clomped through the snow to the New Chelsea Market instead. I am lucky to be able to walk to a well-stocked grocery store. I even grabbed the last bundle of Zingerman's Bakehouse hamburger buns while I was there.

I also boosted the number of tomatoes in the recipe (I think I used closer to 3 pounds) and since the recipe only said "onion" I chopped up three very small onions, assuming that was approximately equal to one large onion. Hey, it didn't seem to affect the recipe at all.

I used my stick blender to puree the mixture directly in the pot (MESSY!) and didn't strain it at all; consequently, my ketchup had chunks and seeds in it. What can I say, I was lazy. And no one seemed to care.

That's some fine-looking condiment.

Oh, half hog, we hardly knew ye.

Next, the pulled pork (Weber's Big Book of Grilling, p. 169):
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder roast (also known as Boston butt), 4 to 5 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Allow the roast to stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before grilling. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the roast, fat side up, over indirect medium heat until the internal temperature reaches between 185 and 190 degrees F, 3 to 4 hours. The meat should be so tender it pulls apart easily. Remove from grill, place on platter, and loosely cover with foil. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

For the barbeque sauce:
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once the roast has finished resting, thinly slice, chop, or "pull" the pork meat into shreds with your finger or two forks, discarding any large bits of fat. Moisten the meat with some of the sauce and mix well in a bowl. Toast hamburger buns, if desired. Serve the pulled pork warm on the buns with the remaining sauce on the side.

Of course I used my freshly-made ketchup in the sauce recipe!

And last, but not least, the oven fries (Cook's Illustrated, Jan/Feb 2004, p.21):
  • 3 russet potatoes (about 8 ounce each), peeled and cut lengthwise into 10-12 evenly sized wedges
  • 5 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat oven to 475 degrees F. Place potatoes in large bowl and cover with the hottest tap water you can get; soak for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat an 18 x 12-inch heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tbsp oil and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper; set aside.

Drain potatoes. Spread potatoes out on triple layer of paper towels and thoroughly pat dry with additional paper towels. Rinse and wipe out now-empty bowl; return potatoes to bowl and toss with remaining 1 tbsp oil. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet; cover tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until bottoms of potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15-20 minutes, rotating sheet after 10 minutes. Using spatula and tongs, loosen potatoes from pan, then flip each wedge, keeping potatoes in single layer. Continue baking until fries are golden and crisp, 5 to 15 minutes longer, rotating pan as needed if fries are browning unevenly. Transfer fries to second baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season with additional salt and pepper and serve.

Just pretend it's 81 degrees outside instead of 18, OK?