Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Quit Hogging the Crock Pot!

Sean and I miss a lot of things about living in the South.  We miss the great live music scene, and the way people would show up to almost any social engagement (including funerals) with a guitar in the trunk of their car. We miss how spring started in late February, when the woods would become stupid with redbuds and dogwoods.  We miss seeing loggerhead turtles nesting on the beach (no, I'm not making that up, that really happened.) We miss real honeysuckles and real sweet tea, but most of all, we miss the barbecue.

HA! You thought I was going to say we miss the people most, didn't you?!  Sorry guys-- we do actually miss y'all a lot too-- but, while it turns out that there are some decent people here in Ohio, the same can't be said for the barbecue. UGH. What a bunch of soggy, tomatoey, horse-meat.

So, today, I am trying to recreate a little bit of down home heart disease hospitality, by cooking a southern style feast, complete with hog. Here's what's on the menu:

  • Pulled Pork Barbecue with Eastern NC style Vinegar Sauce (crock pot edition)
  • 3 Cheese Macaroni with a crunchy, breaded top
  • Brussel Sprouts baked to crispy perfection
  • Slaaaw
  • Blueberry Cobbler

Now, I know what you're thinking. You can't cook hog in a crockpot!! It's not real barbecue unless it's been slow cooked for hours over a fire that you were up at 5 am chopping wood for! Don't you think I know that?  But, I have a lot of things working against me when it comes to making real, authentic southern BBQ right now.

1. First of all, my name is not Keith. That's a real drawback.  I don't have hands the size of hubcaps, and I don't have any commemorative nascar arm tattoos. I do have a few t-shirts with the arms cut out- but they're all packed away with my non-maternity clothes.

2. I'm not cooking over a fire. I KNOW it's almost blashepmy. But, while I was up at 5 am this morning, I was busy feeding, rocking, and de-pooping a tiny screaming person, and didn't have time to start any fires in our outdoor smoker.

3. I don't know how they cook it anyways.  Just because you grow up in the south doesn't mean you are automatically pre-programmed with the secrets to making the perfect pulled pork.  No. In fact, if you DO know how to make pork taste that good, you are automatically seen as some sort of cultural freaking gem.  I think that southern barbecue masters are the modern day equivalent of tribal medicine men, except that they probably get more blow jobs than tribal medicine men did, and they DEFINITELY get more free hushpuppies.

So, while I acknowledge that in NO WAY am I capable of producing authentic southern style barbecue, while caring for a 10 week-old baby, on a weekday, in Ohio, while wearing a cardigan-- this crockpot recipe will at least satisfy our cravings until we can get down there for the real thing. Here's what I did.

Step one: I went to the LOCAL MARKET to buy a sustainably raised, hormone-free, cruelty-free, ethically superior piece of eco-friendly rainbow meat. It's important not to skip this step, because the smugness you get from shopping locally will make your food taste better. So, get down to your local coop and pick out the largest boston butt that will still fit in your crock pot.

Step two: When we woke up this morning, I heated some olive oil with the skillet on high, and pan-fried the meat until it was a golden, crispy brown. The kitchen smelled glorious.  *Note: This is also a great technique to increase your husband's love for you! I often call Sean at work and say to him, "if you stop at the store and get me (insert random grocery item), then I promise the whole house will smell like bacon when you come home."It works everytime.

Step three:  I chopped up a small onion, and layered the bottom of the crock pot with the pieces. I then carefully transferred the meat from my skillet to the crockpot, avoiding dropping it on the floor where our fool-of-a-labrador was drooling with reckless abandon. Then I chopped up another onion and threw this on top of the meat.

Step four: In a measuring cup, I mixed 3/4 a cup of Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tsp brown sugar, one tablespoon red pepper, a dash of salt, and dash of black pepper.  I poured this on top of the meat.

Step Five: I put the lid on my crock pot and cooked it all freaking day.

Step six: I pulled the meat out of the crock pot and placed it on a cutting board. After discarding the onion and all but a small amount of the cooking juices, I shredded the meat with two forks. Then I added it to the remaining cooking juices.  This batch was just a tiny bit soggy, so I pan fried 1/3 of the meat in a little veggie oil to crisp it up, a give it that "just off the barbecue" feel. Then I added the sauce.

Unless you have terrible taste in food, you'll probably want some sauce to go with your barbecue.  Now I'm not stupid enough to start a ciber-war over the best approach to bbq sauces, but here is an easy and quick recipe for a great tasting sauce. If your grandmother's recipe is better-- why don't you go to your grandmother's blog to rant about it, because I don't want to frigging hear it. If you prefer a tomato or mustard based sauce, you can kiss my ass.  Just kidding!  Everyone's entitled to their own opinions about sauce, (no matter how wrong or misguided they are.) Chose the one that's best for you, here's what we like:

1 part apple cider vinegar
1 part white vinegar,
season to taste with brown sugar, red pepper, tabasco, salt, and black pepper.
Make a few days in advance and let in sit in the fridge.

Here is a picture of the crock-pot hog. It turned out pretty well, but the hand's down winner of the evening was the blueberry cobbler.

Pulled pork barbecue, crock pot

1 comment:

  1. Katie, if you put it in the crock pot at night before you go to bed, you and Sean will wake up with the house smelling like delicious bbq and I'm sure Sean will pitch an appropriately sized tent... Score! Hee hee hee.