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kalua pork sliders

I was having one of those days where I wanted to buy a whole pig, dig a pit in my backyard, and just roast the crap out of the damn thing Luau-style. But a couple of things stood in my way: 1) I don’t actually know where to get an entire pig at the drop of a hat. Head? Sure. Feet? No problem. But the whole beast? I think I’d have to order it. Or drive outside the city. Which I don’t like to do on the weekends (Seattle traffic is a bitch).

2) If I came home with a pig carcass my animal-loving 3 year-old would name it, put a leash on it, and try to walk it around the yard. Mommy, why are you burying Puffaluff? Over a bed of hot coals? Oh, Mommy whyyyyyy????!!!!!! I can’t afford the therapy. 3) I live adjacent to the fire department. Quite literally. And with my luck, the boys (and girl–there is one) would be lured over the fence by the smell of roasting swine and write me some sort of citation for, I don’t know, an illegal animal roast.

So I nixed the whole pig idea and settled for a 4-pound roast and this lovely recipe from La Fuji Mama. It has all the flavor of that slow-roasted Hawaiian pork, but you don’t have to locate a whole swine, scar your daughter for life, or burn your house down to get it.

Hawaiian red and black sea salts (available at better grocers or spice markets; I bought mine in bulk for about $1.25 total) lend an earthy flavor, while liquid smoke (usually on the aisle near the BBQ sauce) substitues for the pit and charcoal. I downsized to a 4-pound roast (the recipe calls for 5-6), and it fed six of us with lots of leftovers.

Prick the roast all over with the tip of a sharp knife…

…and rub with the red and black sea salts. It will look super attractive.

Cook on low for 10 hours with a dash of liquid smoke, and that’s it!

Shred.

Take a picture of Charlie, because she spies the camera and is saying “cheeeeeeeese!”

Take a better picture of Charlie.

For a casual dinner party we piled the pork on soft slider buns with good coleslaw. Everyone went back for seconds. And thirds. And the best part? The pork took no time at all to make, so I could sit back, relax, and plot where to dig my pig-roasting hole.

-RDG

 

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Kalua Pork Sliders quantities and times adjusted from La Fuji Mama’s fabulous recipe 

Serves 8

  •  4 lb pork shoulder (butt) roast
  • 1 tbsp red hawaiian sea salt
  • 1 tbsp black hawaiian sea salt
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • slider buns (I like King’s Hawaiian)
  • good slaw, for topping
1. Rinse pork roast and pat dry. Prick all over with the tip of a sharp knife. Rub with salts.
2. Place roast in slow cooker , pour liquid smoke over the meat, cover and cook on low for 10 hours (you may be able to cook it longer, depending on how “low” your lowest setting is on your slow cooker).
3. Discard 1/3 to 1/2 the juices and shred the meat with two forks, tossing with the rest of the juices (if you later chill the shredded meat without discarding some of the fat, you’ll find the solidified fat hard to pick around).
4. Pile slider buns high with pork and top with slaw. Enjoy!

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orzo with red cherries & basil

Summer produce is in full swing. We’re in that magical sweet spot where raspberries are bountiful, blackberries are just beginning to make an appearance, peaches are getting sweeter, nectarines are juicy, and there are even a few straggling strawberries left to be picked.

And then there are cherries. Sweet, juicy cherries with that gorgeous blood-red color that screams summer. But what to do with them that’s new and inventive? I recently had a mind-blowing orzo salad at my Aunt’s house that I couldn’t stop thinking about. I thought it would be fabulous with a few red cherries and tons of sweet basil. A savory use for cherries? It’s just what August ordered.

To make it, you’ll also need balsamic vinegar, olive oil, good quality grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (throw that green can of Kraft out the window. Please.), and some pine nuts. Most better grocers carry orzo (a rice-shaped pasta) on the pasta aisle.

Bright red cherries are truly summer in a bowl.

And sweet basil? My favorite herb, hands down.

To begin, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and place in a heat-proof bowl.

Stir in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Let cool, then place in the refrigerator to chill.

Right before you’re ready to eat, pit the cherries and chop into sixths.

Chop the basil. Your kitchen will smell heavenly.

Toss the cherries, basil, pine nuts and cheese into the pasta. Stir, and adjust the seasonings to taste (I added a few pinches of salt and a little extra vinegar).

Serve. It’s such a pretty summer salad, and would be fantastic next to grilled pork, chicken or salmon.

So easy to make, so flavorful, so summery. Happy August!

Orzo with Red Cherries & Basil adapted from Bon Appetit      printable recipe

This summery pasta salad can be made in advance and pairs well with grilled pork, chicken or salmon. Prep time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes plus time to refrigerate.

  • 1 lb orzo
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
  •  1/2 lb red cherries
  • 2 oz basil to yield roughly 1/2 c chopped
  • 1/3 c grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 c pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain well and place in a heat-proof bowl. Stir in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, stir well and allow to cool. Cover and place in the refrigerator until chilled.
2. Pit the cherries and cut into sixths. Remove basil leaves from stems and chop.
3. Right before serving, toss the chilled orzo with the cherries, basil, cheese and pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper and additional vinegar if desired.