Friday, 26 June 2009

Pressure Cooking in Jamaica (Curried Goat)

I'm currently on vacation in Jamaica mon and had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be doing any posts as I wouldn't be doing any cooking. But as fate would have it, a pressure cooker appeared on the scene and I reckoned a post was order.

We're on this amazing holiday in Jamaica in June. Not your usual time for a "hot holiday" if you're from the northern hemisphere, but our travel companions are from the southern hemisphere (Australia) and it indeed is winter there.

We're staying at a gorgeous estate called
Hammerstein's Highland House (HHH). It's a private estate so it's just us eight friends (old and new) here. We have incredible amenities, including all of the meals prepared for us at the times we specify. In fact, they ring a bell when a meal is ready - which we all love. It actually makes you conditioned to start salivating when you hear it and wander zombie-like to the dining area. I can now relate to my cat and why she gets so excited at the sound of her food jar coming out.

The food has been exceptional - and we haven't had any desire to seek out other eating establishments. In fact, we tend to plan everything around our meals, and often spend a good chunk of our time talking about what we've eaten or what's coming next!

Back to the pressure cooker.

We were all sitting on the Terrace enjoying cocktail hour and the gorgeous view of Montego Bay.

Steve slipped into the kitchen and came back to announce that a pressure cooker was going. As any normal person would do given such news, I grabbed my camera and ran to the kitchen. Sure enough, a pressure cooker was toiling away. Even more exciting it was a Fagor brand 6 qt. - almost like what I have at home.

We enquired what treasure trove simmered away in this vessel. Just as I suspected, it was the curry goat that was one of the dishes on this evening's menu. The chef, Sherry-Anne, said it helps to keep it tender .

When we sat to dinner, the curry goat not only looked fantastic, but also smelled and tasted fantastic.

It was served alongside broccoli, cho cho (a local squash-type vegetable which is very good) and rice. I must confess though, I pretty much focused on eating the yummy curried goat and didn't dabble to much into the side dishes! Dessert was a delicious and perfect lemon soufflé!

I will definitely be trying to recreate this curried goat recipe in the future using my pressure cooker at home!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

OMG - Pulled Pork Tinga

UPDATE: See the end of this post for another instalment of using up the leftovers - smoked pulled pork pizza. This is a teaser photo right below - it's not pork tinga!

This would be an instalment in my using up the leftovers of the
"Cheap Ass Monday" Smoked Pork Picnic Roast. Although I've been using up the pork, I'm pacing myself on the postings. (Pacing=lazy)

Oh my god.

That was my first reaction to my first bite of this recipe.

After mulling over my leftover options, I decided to text one of my girlfriends from Mexico to get an idea. A simple text saying "I've got a bunch of left over pulled pork - any Mexican recipes for using it up" led to a flurry of texts for Tinga. And baby, it was so worth piecing together the multiple texts.

In fact, making this dish was thrilling on so many levels - and I can honestly say that doesn't happen every day in general cookery.

My first thrill was using a brand new
All-Clad 3 quart cassoulet that I added to my collection. What the hell a cassoulet is for, I don't know (surely not just cassoulet), but it was a thrill to use. So I started by sautéing some diced onions until just starting to brown then added some of the pulled pork leftovers.

Meanwhile, thrill number two arose, when I used a food processor to puree 2 large tomatoes, a large clove of garlic and 2 chipotles in adobo sauce. This was a thing of beauty. The resulting sauce was such a deep luscious colour, I knew I was onto something good.

I added the puree to the pork mixture, along with 1/2 cup of orange juice and salt and pepper and let it simmer. Again, it just looked completely fantastic. Thrilling, in fact.

I had zipped to the grocery after work to buy tostadas (actually Wal-Mart - a store which is a negative thrill, but they actually carry proper tostadas) so after the Tinga had simmered for 1/2 hour I was ready for assembly.

My girlfriend is travelling right now, so I can't confirm the proper, traditional way to serve Tinga. So I simply put some pork on a tostada, added lettuce, cheese and sour cream. I would have added avocado but the one I had on hand wasn't quite ripe.

Then I had a bite. Oh my god. It was amazing. I couldn't believe the flavours. To coin a phrase from
Moe the Bartender on The Simpsons "It's like a party in my mouth and everyone's invited". That Moe, he knows how to call it.

Pulled Pork Tinga Recipe
1 tbsp oil
1/2 large onion diced
2 cups pulled pork (leftovers)
2 large ripe tomatoes, cored
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (with sauce)
1 large clove garlic
1/2 cup orange juice

To serve: Tostadas, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped avocado, sour cream

Heat the oil in a large saucepan (or cassoulet pan if you have) until just starting to brown. Add the pulled pork and mix. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, peppers and garlic in a food processor. Add to the pork along the orange juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer a 1/2 hour until somewhat reduced.

Smoked Pulled Pork and Pineapple Pizza
I won't go into the prep details for this (I'll save that for another blog - but I used more of the smoked pork picnic roast to do a smoked pizza. The result was pretty good. I really liked that it didn't have the processed flavour of bought pork product, but it wasn't exactly like ham and pineapple pizza either. It was pretty much unto its own.

Monday, 1 June 2009

"Cheap Ass Monday" - Smoked Pork Picnic Roast

You may be wondering why the "Cheap Ass Monday" bit in the title. Well it's to flag that this post is intended to be a submission to Michelle over at
Thursday Night Smackdown for her "Cheap Ass Monday" (formerly "hobo Mondays") monthly event - where a dinner for six can cost no more than $13.

It is pure coincidence that I'm making a smoked pulled pork dish on the heels of Michelle's recent smoke-a-thon. You see, I was at the grocery yesterday and they had these pork picnic roasts (hock removed) on sale. How could I resist. It was screaming "smoke me" I'm cheap!

Usually when I make pulled pork, I use a pork blade shoulder roast . But when I saw these big pork shoulder picnic roasts, I figured I should throw all caution to the wind and give it a whirl.

I began by trimming the excess fat from the roast. EXCESS fat, not ALL. This is critical to the end product. Not only does it keep the meat tender during its long cooking process, but it also creates the most amazing crispy crust on the outside that is worth the whole dinner in itself.

I slathered one of my favourite spicy dry rub recipes. This is a concoction I created by picking and choosing things I liked from different recipes. I make it in bulk and use it on various meats/cuts including chicken and pork ribs. I've even contemplated packaging it as a gift for friends and family at Christmas, but the lazy side of me always interferes.

I wrapped the rubbed roast in plastic wrap and let it sit for an hour to "marinate." I should note that it was 9:00 a.m. as this is one of those low and slow recipes. Then it was smoking time. I preheated the smoker, filled with maple pellets for 15 minutes. I then put the rubbed roast on (plastic wrapped removed- in case you are silly enough to think it stay) and turned the heat to 225F. A bit of basting and 8 hours later you're ready to eat!

For sides dishes I made a smoked potato casserole (yes I just made this last week, but it was so delicious I was craving it and had to make it again), and a simple tomato salad (yayyyy - I finally have productive basil in the yard to do this).

When the pork roast was ready it looked amazing, and tasted even more amazing. I had originally planned to drench it with a bbq sauce, but it was so good on its own I didn't - turns out this was an opportunity. . . .

As for the pork picnic roast - I will choose it over the pork blade roast from now on for pulled pork. It was much better for "pulling" and had tonnes of meat.

This was originally a dinner for 6 (that's what the math is based on), but the pork roast turned out to be so big that I've got enough leftovers to get me through numerous meals. A Challenge! I plan to use the leftovers in various meals for the next few days (i.e. Before I get sick of eating pork or before it starts to grow some crazy bacteria that will make me sick).

Stay tuned. . . .

The Math:
for Cheap Ass Monday, Smoked Pork Picnic Roast for Dinner for 6 per instructions
Pork Roast $6.00Potato Casserole Ingredients ($1.59+$.59+$1.5+$1.89+$.25)
Tomato Salad ($1.15 + $1.5)
Total: 14.47 CDN - converted to USD $13.29*

*yes its slightly over the limit, but if the CDN dollar hadn't strengthened this last week it would have been well over

Spicy Dry Rub for a Plenitude of Purposes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Mix all ingredients together. If making the bulk mix using a strainer to remove any lumps. Store in airtight container.

Smoked Pork Picnic Shoulder Roast
1 6-8 lb pork shoulder picnic roast
1 recipe dry rub mix (above)

Trim the roast of excess fat - but not all. Be sure to leave a thin layer to keep the roast moist during cooking and create a delicious crackling whilst cooking. Rinse with water.

Rub the roast all over with the dry rub and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let sit for one hour to "marinate." 15 minutes before it's ready prepare the smoker by heating it on high with maple wood. Turn the heat to low or 225F and put the roast on. Baste with Raspberry baste every hour for 8 hours until the roast is cooked.

Once cooked, remove from smoker. Let rest for 5-10 minutes. Pull the pork into strip using a fork and a knife. Be sure to remove excess fat, but keep the crispy crackling (you may even want to snack on it as you go).

Raspberry Vinegar Baste
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
Mix all ingredients together.