July 14, 2009

233rd Annual Dionysian Ritual of Opulence Over Open Flame

When DP announced that he would be hosting a BBQ for the 4th my mind immediately starting reeling with what food I was going to bring. I have this terrible problem of overcompensating with food when either invited to or hosting a gathering of any sort. What can I say, I like options. So I started off with about 10 ideas and ultimately narrowed it down to 3 dishes.

The first thing was pulled pork. I have always wanted to make this and being that it is mostly hands off I figured it'd be a great recipe to add to the mix. I don't have much experience with slow cookers but there's not a whole lot to it. I used a recipe from the blog Soup Belly. It was really simple but next time I'll probably make my own bbq sauce. Even though I used one I really like, Stubb's, I feel the recipe could've been a touch more homemade. I might try a dry rub beforehand as well. Also, at 10 hours my pork was falling apart and ready to shred. This may have been because I used a boneless pork shoulder. Overall the pork was well received and a cinch to make.

Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot (serves 10)
adapted from Soup Belly

4 lbs of pork shoulder (often called pork butt)
2 large yellow onions
1 cup ginger ale
18 oz. bottle of bbq sauce of choice (feel free to make your own here) plus more for dipping if so desired

Chop onions and scatter half on the bottom of crock pot. Lay pork shoulder on top. Cover with second onion and ginger ale. Cover with lid, turn crock pot on to low and let cook for 10 hours. This can take up to 12 hours but I think my crock pot cooks at a high temperature so be sure to check the pork as you near the end. When it falls apart to the touch, it's nice and ready.

Take pork out and place on a cutting board. Shred the pork using 2 forks. Discard the onions and pork juices and place shredded pork back in the pot. Cover with bbq sauce and cook on low for another 4-6 hours. Serve on buns or alone. Either way is delicious!

Alongside all that pork I couldn't resist making some baked beans. I used a recipe I found via Cooking Light. There was something that tasted off about this recipe to me but people seemed to like it at the party. I'm not sure i'll used it again, although I did like the heat that came from using the chipotle peppers.

Honey-Chipotle Baked Beans (serves 8-10)
from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
1/2 cup minced shallots (about 5 ounces)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped
2 (28-ounce) cans baked beans

Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots; sauté 4 minutes or until golden. Add cumin and garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add tomato puree and oil, and cook for 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add honey and the next 5 ingredients (through chiles). Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine beans and shallot mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 300° for 1 hour or until thick and bubbly.

And last, but certainly not least, was cherry pie! I found a recipe for "slab" cherry pie which is basically just pie in giant proportions. I figured that it'd be better for serving a crowd. I even invested in a jelly roll pan for this baby, oh and (!) a Cherry Chomper to do the dirty pitting work. I'm such a sucker for an excuse to buy new kitchen gadgets.

Cherry Slab Pie (serves 12)

taken from The Italian Dish

Slab Pie Dough (pâte brisée)

3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
½ cup ice water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds.

With machine running, slowly pour the ice water through the feed tube until the dough just comes together in a ball.

Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten a little, dust with flour and wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.

Pie Filling

2 ½ pounds (about 6 cups) fresh cherries, pitted, or 2 ¼ pounds (about 6 cups) of fresh blueberries
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stir to combine, set aside.

2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup sanding sugar or granulated sugar

To make the pie:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into a rectangle, a little bit larger than your baking sheet. The original recipe calls for a 15x10 baking sheet, but I used a 13x10 jelly roll pan. To make this easier, place a piece of plastic wrap on your working surface, dust with flour. Place pie dough on top, dust with flour and place another sheet of plastic wrap on top. When your dough is the right size, lay your rolling pin on top of the top sheet of plastic wrap. Start rolling the dough around the rolling pin, leaving the bottom sheet of plastic wrap on your working surface. Dust the dough around the rolling pin as you go, so it will not stick to itself. Lift rolling pin over your baking sheet on one end and unroll dough. Remove plastic wrap from top. Fit into your rimmed baking sheet, pressing into corners (pastry will hang over sides). Spread filling into pie shell.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough to the size of your pan. Using same method as above, drape dough over filling. Fold edge of bottom dough over top dough. Pinch edges to seal Prick the top dough all over with a fork. Brush the entire surface of the pie with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake until crust is golden brown about 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool just until the pie is still warm to the touch. Serve warm or a room temperature. Cut into 12 pieces. Slab pie can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

And because this is already just too much information in one post I'm going to 80's montage the pictures again:


And I just realized I didn't take any pictures of the baked beans. 4th of July is ruined. 10 days after the fact.