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Meat, Meat, Beautiful Meat

July 9, 2007

Meat Valentine

Whew–this has been a week of serious grilling. Between the Fourth of July and my birthday a few days later, I have ingested more red meat than a person should be allowed, and the food coma has prevented me from sitting down and writing about any of it. Pulled pork, steak, hamburgers, sausages…it’s exhausting just thinking about it. But it was all sooo delicious. Mmm. Meeeat.

This past Saturday we had a little gathering to celebrate the fact that I managed to age another year. Of course I had to make all the food myself. All of my food-loving friends wanted to bring something, but I refused to allow it. Control freak? Perhaps. For some reason, I got really excited about planning a menu, and I enjoy cooking so it’s not as though it was a pain in the ass to cater my own birthday party.

Birthdays for me have always been about grilling meat and drinking beer outside. Since it’s only two days after the Fourth of July, mostly people are still in cook out mode, and as far as I can remember, I’ve always been blessed with good weather. I decided to go one step further this year than just grilling up some burgers, and do something I’ve never done before: pulled pork.

We don’t have a smoker, so I cooked it in a crock pot. I know there are some who believe this is blasphemous, that I was a traitor to the barbecue and that this pulled pork doesn’t even deserve to be called that name. Then there are those who ate it. It turned out really, really well. It was like liquid meat. It was freaking delicious, and disappeared in about 10 minutes. I will definitely be doing that again. Perhaps someday I’ll take the next step and actually smoke a pork shoulder, but this was so easy and turned out so well that I’m ok with the naysayers. More meat for me.

Pulled Pork

I’m the first to admit that that’s not a pretty picture. But it belies the fact that that was a delicious pile o’ meat, and it was very easy to make. Do not be intimidated by the pulled pork; it actually requires almost no effort. I made the barbecue sauce the night before, and rubbed the pork shoulder down with a mix of spicy spices, then at eight in the morning (way too early, unfortunately) I just got up and turned on the crock pot. Eight hours later I had a dish of silky, tangy, delicious meat that made a whole bunch of people very happy.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

  • an approximately 3 – 4 pound pork shoulder (the smallest size the butcher had was seven pounds, and we just cut it about in half. And we had to go to an actual butcher, because they didn’t have pork shoulder at the grocery store, so be prepared for that.)
  • 2 T. each chili powder and cumin
  • about 2 tsp. each sea salt and black pepper
  • about 1 tsp. cayenne

Vinegary Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1 c. cider vinegar
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 1 1/2 c. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 T. tomato paste (I use the concentrated kind)
  • 1 1/2 T. molasses
  • 2 T. dijon mustard
  • a bit of salt and pepper

The sauce is very easy: Just put everything into a saucepan and cook it over medium heat until the ingredients are blended and the sauce is slowly bubbing and it’s warm and tasty. I think I cooked it all for about 15 minutes. If you’re making it ahead of time, wait for it to cool off before putting it in a container in the refrigerator.

Mix all the spices together and rub them all over the raw pork shoulder. Really make sure it coats the meat all over and is rubbed in well. This part is kind of gross.

Cover it up closely with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigator until you’re ready to cook it, or just pop it in the crock pot right away.

When you’re ready for crock pot action, cover the meat with about a cup of the barbecue sauce and some water, and set it the low setting. Keep it covered and let it cook away for about eight hours. Then, when it’s tender and feels like it will easily pull apart, carefully pour the liquid out. Shred it with two forks until it’s as shredded as you want it to be, and add the rest of the barbecue sauce. Stir it all up so all the meat is well covered, and put the lid back on. Let it cook just a bit longer on the low or warm setting until you’re ready to serve it. I left it for another half hour or so, and it was perfect.

Plate o’ food

We just served it on hamburger and hot dog buns, and I’m not even kidding, it was gone in about 10 minutes. Everyone loved it, and I let them believe that it required a lot of effort when really it was the easiest part of the whole meal.

Because I knew no one would be satisfied with just one kind of meat, I decided to make chicken skewers, as well. I wanted to make the same marinade my brother made for his graduation party, but he never emailed me the recipe, because he’s a punk, so I found a lamb souvlaki recipe online and adapted it. I decided to cook chicken thighs, which Mr. X kindly skinned and de-boned for me, because I’ve heard the meat stays juicier on a skewer, and it was really tender, delicious chicken.

Souvlaki-style Chicken Skewers

  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 T. finely minced fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 T. finely minced garlic
  • 2-3 T. olive oil
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 red onion, quartered and separated

Throw everything except the onion into a big plastic bag and smoosh it all around so the chicken is coated. Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, or at least for a few hours.

Soak the skewers for about 30 minutes in water, so they don’t ignite on the grill. Skewer a few chicken pieces on each skewer, with some pieces of onion. Grill them for about 10 minutes, turning part way through.

Chicken Skewers

We had some delicious leftover Tri-tip from the Fourth that we threw on the grill as well. Tri-tip is one of those things I miss about California. It’s not easy to find here, because out in New England they cut up that part of the cow for steak tips. Which are delicious, but just not the same as Tri-tip steak: a great, big hunk of marinated awesomeness. So when my housemate found Tri-tip at Trader Joe’s, she bought two of them.

This one was a carne asada marinade, and was wonderfully spicy, juicy, and tender. Man, it was some good stuff. This is steak that you want to just eat with your hands, that you want to bury your face in and breathe in its glory, that you want to dive into and swim around in for the rest of your days.


And just for good measure, Mr. X marinated some split bone-in chicken breasts overnight in D. L. Jardin’s Killer Barbecue sauce and threw it on the grill. That sadly proved too much meat for everyone, but bonus for me–I have a bunch of it in my refrigerator for barbecue chicken sandwiches and barbecue chicken pizza and barbecue chicken breakfast.

I made a citrusy pasta salad, and a very interesting potato salad that got crazy raves, and skillet cornbread, but in the interest of not overwhelming anyone, I’ll save those for tomorrow. I’ve also got some tales of a dinner out at Sel de la Terre, and a few things to say about what to do with all the meat that is leftover after crazy days of grilling out. I’m going to slip back into my meat coma right now, though, and dream about the deliciousness of pulled pork and Tri-tip.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    July 10, 2007 9:19 pm

    It all sounds delicious and I wish I could have been there. The pulled pork sounds like something I could handle if Patrick would just let me in the kitchen!


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