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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summer grilled cheese

This post was going to be about the glory of summer produce; beautiful corn, fresh basil, tart limes. I was going to tell you how I created this sandwich on soft brioche with melted sharp cheddar, tangy lime mayo, crisp basil and crunchy corn and how it brings the classic comfort food to a whole new (summery) level.

But I haven’t had time to write that dreamy, descriptive post. I haven’t had a serene moment with a cup of coffee and the quiet click of the laptop keys. And I haven’t had it because of all the screaming. Hours of screaming. From two little girls. Two little girls with four big lungs.

The baby is getting teeth. Two teeth, to be exact, and the poor thing just wants to chew through the table. If you’re a parent you know that there’s nothing more feared than the word teething (other than maybe blow-out) and that the little babes just go through hell to pop those little pearly whites out of their gums. You also know that no matter how long your baby sleeps at night, during teething those rules don’t apply. Needless to say, I’m tired.

The non-baby has decided that waking up halfway through every nap and every night is totally fun, especially when it means she gets to scream for mom and dad. She seems scared but can’t tell us what of. We ask her if she had a bad dream and she nods and cries, although I don’t think she has the foggiest idea what a dream is (her standard answer when I ask what she dreamed about has always been “monkeys cutting pizza!” which actually sounds like a delightful dream to have). She wants to sleep in our bed and then she doesn’t. She wants to sleep on the couch and then she doesn’t. She wants to sleep in the guest room and then she doesn’t. She does want to yell like there’s no tomorrow, and not go back to sleep for hours, and not nap, and be a tired cranky-pants all the time. So I’m a tired cranky-pants all the time who only has time to cook grilled cheese and not to blog about it.

But I digress. I have this moment now, where both children are sleeping, and I have a can of Diet Crack and the sun coming through the windows. So now I have time to tell you that to make this heavenly sandwich you’ll need bread (I used brioche, which is pretty much as good as it gets), mayonnaise (I like the olive oil-based stuff), a wedge of lime, cheese (I used sharp cheddar, but any cheese that melts nicely will do), one clove of garlic, and a ton of fresh basil.

Begin by squeezing the lime into the mayo. You would think that all that citrus would curdle the dairy, but if you stir quickly, there’s nothing to worry about. Cover & refrigerate until ready to use.

Mince the garlic…

…and slice the corn from the cob.

Saute the corn and garlic in a tablespoon of butter for just a few moments—sweet summer corn hardly needs any cooking at all.

Butter one side of 4 slices of bread…

…and spread the lime mayo on the other halves.

Layer on the basil…

…sauteed corn…

…and cheese.

Place sandwiches butter side down in a cold skillet with a tight fitting lid. Place skilled over medium heat. When first side is crisp, remove lid, flip sandwiches, and cook uncovered until crisp. This lid trick is great for allowing the cheese to melt (especially with thicker bread) while not burning the bread. Perfect grilled cheese, every time.

The melted cheddar wraps around those tender corn kernels creating tiny bites of sweet crunch. The basil adds brightness and the lime mayo creates a creamy tang.

Classic winter comfort food redesigned for summer. Whip up a batch of these crispy grilled cheese sandwiches, pour a glass of sauvingon blanc and sit out on the patio with your sweetie.

Ahhhhh. Summer.

And there goes the screaming again. At least I can dream of quiet moments.

Summer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches     printable recipe

This sunny version of the classic comfort food wouldn’t be complete without a cold beer or a glass of crisp white wine. Makes 2 sandwiches. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 wedge lime
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 ear sweet corn, shucked
  • 1 tbsp butter, plus more for bread
  • 4 slices bread (I like brioche)
  • 4 slices sharp cheddar (or whatever cheese you prefer)
  • several leaves fresh basil
1. Juice the lime wedge into the mayonaise. Stir and refrigerate.
2. Mince the garlic. Slice the corn kernels from the cob. Melt the butter in a skilled over medium heat. Add the garlic and corn and saute for 1-3 minutes, just until corn brightens in color. Remove from heat.
3. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Turn and spread lime mayonnaise on opposite side of bread. Layer on the basil, corn and cheese. Place sandwiches butter side down in a large, cold skillet covered with a tight fitting lid. Set over medium heat and cook until bread is crisp and lightly browned. Remove lid, flip sandwiches and cook uncovered until cheese is melted and bread is crisp. Slice and serve.

grilled pork chops with apple compote

Tonight, dear Seattlites, needs to be a meal not cooked in your hot, sweltering kitchen. So break out the grill, a beer and a wading pool and join me outside.

For those of you not familiar with these lovely Seattle heat waves, 90 degrees is just about when we start complaining. For a city that’s never heard of air conditioning, it’s tricky business walking around trying to pretend that those sweat marks on your shirt are just spills of lemonade. We’re all on to each other. So tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day, go easy on yourselves and take the family outside for a meal from the grill.

I adore chops on the grill—they get a nice smoky flavor and are harder to overcook if you do them quickly at high temperatures. However, I still feel that a marinade is in order to impart some moisture and flavor. For a quick, easy marinade, grab some lemon juice, salt and pepper, fresh rosemary, red wine vinegar (any kind of vinegar would do), and olive oil. For the chops, I’m using the bone-in variety that are about 1″ thick.

Whisk the marinade ingredients together rapidly until the mixture emulsifies. I just threw the rosemary sprigs right in—no chopping required.

Pour the marinade over rinsed and dried chops…

…and give ‘em a few flips to make sure they’re coated evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

For the apple compote, you’ll need some apples (I used Braeburn, but pretty much any variety would do, except for those pesky red delicious kind, which are not delicious nor should be considered apples), brown sugar, and a pinch each of salt and cinnamon.

Pour some water into a saucepan…

…and add the sugar, salt and cinnamon. If you had one of those handy burners on the side of your grill, this would be the perfect time to use it!

Peel the apples…

…and give them a quick dice. I like big chunks of apple, but whatever size you prefer works for me.

Add the apples to the water/sugar mixture, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Cook until the apples begin to become tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools.

Ready to grill? Let’s go. Pre-heat to medium high and lay those chops on, baby. After about 2 minutes, give a quarter turn to create…

…some purdy grill marks. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your chops. Boneless chops will cook more quickly.

(A note about undercooked pork: don’t be scared of it. My personal opinion is that medium is fine and tastes way better, as long as you’re using all natural, high-quality meat. And if you’re still curious, here’s a handy article from Chow.)

Pull off the chops, top with the apples and serve to hungry people.

This is such an easy meal for the grill, yet pretty enough to serve to company.

Whip up a side salad and you’ve got dinner. Outside. Preferably with a nice mister spraying over you.

Stay cool, Seattle! If you need me, I’ll be in the backyard with a cold Stella in my hand and my feet in Lucy’s wading pool.

-RDG

Grilled Pork Chops with Warm Apple Compote

The chops need to marinate for at least 1 hour. During that time, you can make the apple compote, or the compote can be made in advance. Makes 6 bone-in, 1″ chops. For thinner or boneless chops, reduce cooking time.

For the chops:

  • 6 bone-in pork chops, 1″ thick
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (any savory vinegar would do)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4-5 turns freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, needles removed from stems

Rinse pork chops and pat dry. Stir together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place chops in a large dish or plastic bag and pour in marinade. Turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Cook chops for 2-4 minutes per side depending on desired doneness (see link above if you’re afraid of undercooked pork). Remove from grill and place on a platter.

For the apple compote:

  • 4 apples
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cinnamon

Peel apples and chop into a 1″ dice (or smaller if desired). In a large saucepan stir together water, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add apples and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples become tender. Remove from heat. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving, or refrigerate until ready to use. Pour over grilled pork chops when ready to serve.