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Hotbox Hipster

a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related

Hearty and Healthy ~ Chicken Farro Stew

powerhouse dinner
powerhouse dinner

So i met Farro last year… i was thumbing through a magazine and saw a lovely rustic one pot meal involving some browned sweet sausages, bright and beautiful spinach and carrots and something called ‘farro‘… what in the hell, i asked, is FARRO??  (linked wiki there for ya)  so i got to googling it and hopping around on food sites, and long story short, i was in Whole Foods later that afternoon buying some in bulk!  -and i’ve been cooking with it ever since. it is the most amazing and easy addition to various soups, stews, salads, etc.  you literally toss it into a pot, add water until level is about two inches above that of the farro, and bring it up to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 mins. drain and set aside.  that’s it!!  then you can take and add it to whatever you have in mind!  OR, keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, adding it on top of salads, mix it into your morning yogurt, stir it in with some oatmeal, add it to wonton soup when you get Chinese…. you feelin’ me?!?  Farro makes an already healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner choice all the more healthy… and it’s great post workout too, to help the body recover. WHY? it contains lots of B3’s (niacin) which helps your body break down fats & carbs like a motha.  it has tons of magnesium for muscle support too! it’s protein and fiber rich- and it has a fantastic nutty and chewy texture!  get on board yo!

so the other day i was thinking… “spags, you have some leftover tortellini in there, you have some farro in the pantry, you have plenty of canned tomatoes, a fridge full of veggies, fresh thyme in the garden begging to be used and some tomato paste in a little baggie in the freezer you’ve been meaning to use up.”  visions of a stew started to dance in my mind…. totally could have gone ‘meatless’ here PS. -and please do if you desire!  i happened to also have two bone in chicken breasts begging me to rub them down and roast them. so they got invited to this soiree.

HOPPING ON SOAP BOX….  if you have never been educated by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa on how easy and mouth watering it is to roast bone in chicken breasts for use in almost any capacity…  then you need to listen to this.

basically you are lining a baking sheet with either foil, parchment, or silpat –  rubbing the chicken with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper,  and place it into a 350* oven for 45 mins. walk away! that’s IT! no fussing, no mussing.  take it out, let it cool on the pan or a plate- and slice it up later to use in your recipe- or serve as is… with some garlic mashed potatoes and freshly steamed green beans!  the possibilities are endless here folks.  i added some fresh thyme to mine, just under the skin.

ready for the oven.
ready for the oven.
Finito! yummy.
Finito! yummy.

next up- get your Farro going.  just like i told you up in the first paragraph. giddy up.

i used one heaping cup of dry.
i used one heaping cup of dry.

While the farro is cooking, chop up some vegetables.  IDLE HANDS YO…. i used :

  • one large carrot, diced
  • one large onion, diced
  • half of bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups or so of fresh spinach leaves (roughly chopped) 1 small bag is fine! use it all.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

Then you need:

a bag of tortellini- (cook according to package instructions and set aside to cool), olive oil, red pepper flakes (1/4 tsp), a small can of tomato paste, 28oz can diced tomatoes, 1 can chicken broth,  1/2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp nutmeg

HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: 

in your favorite cooking vessel… heat up a glug of olive oil… add to it your red pepper flakes. once they dance around, begin adding your chopped vegetables. (NOT the spinach)  saute them over medium heat until they start to look tender and delicious.  see below:

i used a big sprig of fresh thyme here and just fished it out at end. you do you...
i used a big sprig of fresh thyme here and just fished it out at end. you do you…

then take and add your can of chicken broth, your can of tomatoes, your tomato paste and all of the spices. bring up to boil, and then immediately reduce heat to simmer and cover.  cook like this for 15 mins.

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Then give it a stir, and add in your chopped chicken, if you are using chicken.  see below.

even one breast would be adequate here... make some chicken salad with the other one!
even one breast would be adequate here… make some chicken salad with the other one!

Then go ahead and add the spinach and the farro and stir well to combine! Lastly, add in the tortellini, and stir gently to combine.  Replace the lid and simmer for ten more minutes and then it is ready to serve!!

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don't even need to use the whole bag... just enough to cover the stew, as shown. save the rest for a salad the next day!
don’t even need to use the whole bag… just enough to cover the stew, as shown. save the rest for a salad the next day!
FANTASTIC!!
FANTASTIC!!

Egg noodle stir fry with crispy Turkey Kielbasa! (a modified version of my ‘pittsburgh pasta’)

Aside from being wickedly colorful, this dish is wonderful for you, because it is loaded with antioxidant rich veggies and healthy fat from the olive oil.  yes, it could be lightened up a bit by using ‘yolk free’ egg noodles… but i usually just roll with plain old.  ‘And yes, there ARE healthier alternatives than the Turkey Kielbasa…. but honestly, it MAKES the dish here.  you will see what i mean when you cannot stop sneaking pieces of the crisped up discs off of the plate while you finish the dish! 🙂  when i wrote that last line, it occurred to me that i had blogged something with Kielbasa in the past where i warned you about the yum factor of these crispy pieces of meat.  i looked back, and it (linked the article) was quite similar to this dish i am about to blog, but a bit more fussy, as it used some red wine and tomato paste to give depth of flavor.  this one is a bit easier, and the perfect week night meal, with enough for a work lunch the next day.  anyway, here’s what’s up dude:

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WHAT YOU NEED: 

two bell peppers of varying colors (not green tho)  – i used red and orange for this one.

one large onion

package of wide egg noodles

package of turkey kielbasa

15 oz can of diced tomatoes (i had the seasoned ones)

1/2 cup of water (can use some of the hot water from cooking pasta if you remember to reserve some)

your favorite spices (i used a few shakes of: chili powder, cumin, coriander, dried parsley, dried oregano and dried basil, and a big pinch of nutmeg)

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of pepper

i added about a cup of spinach leaves that i roughly chopped- i stirred these in at the end- totally optional- but i feel like it gave this one more bright fresh color, as well as adding wickedly good nutrients.  your call. (i always have a bag of spinach in my fridge because i put it on all of my sandwiches and burgers in place of lettuce)

HERE IS WHAT YOU DO: 

get your egg noodles cooking according to package directions. drain, rinse and set aside. (scoop out a half cup of the water and set aside prior to draining)

slice or dice your two colorful bell peppers into whatever size you like.  peel your onion, cut it in half, and then thinly slice those halves. set aside with the peppers on a plate.  slice up the turkey kielbasa. thin but not too thin.  open your can of tomatoes.  get out the largest non stick skillet you have (i use a wok sometimes for this)  and hit it with some olive oil. start it up on high, and once it is hot, add in the kielbasa.  stir fry it until done to your liking (crispy edges) and remove to a plate.  add one more whirl of oil, and toss in the peppers and onions.  stir fry over medium-high heat until soft and looking yummy. while you are doing this, add in your spices right on top. cooking them intensifies their flavor. add salt and pepper last.  then go ahead and add in the tomatoes and the half cup of water. bring to light boil and reduce heat to low. stir the kielbasa back in, and add the spinach if you’re rolling with it.  stir around for a min and cut the heat. place the egg noodles in a LARGE bowl where you’ll combine everything. hit the noodles with a swirl of olive oil.  dump the mix right on top of the noodles.  Stir to combine all.  taste it. needs more salt or pepper? Add some.  At this point if the fam is ready to eat, serve it up.  If not, go ahead and add this back over into your big hot pan and toss a lid on that bitch.  You’re gonna love this dish. honest.

before the mix
before the mix

enjoy!! 

Cherry/Feta couscous salad! Wowza!

bright and bold flavors
bright and bold flavors

this salad.  this is the one.  i am already thinking ahead to upcoming potlucks where i can share its awesomeness with friends.  the original came from a blog i follow and dig, called Not without Salt.  the recipe is here.  she suggested it be used as a loose guide… so that is what i did.  (like i wouldn’t have anyway… come ‘on)  but the end result is pure bliss.  AND looks pretty too, which doesn’t always happen with great tasting food.  Bonus for me, hubby LOVED it.  he kept sneaking spoonfuls of it every time he’d walk through the kitchen.  once i warned him there would be none left to ride alongside his Delmonico, he stopped.  so with this salad- i didn’t have fresh cherries, but i did have dried cherries… which are SUPER sweet. we’re not talking about cherry flavored craisins here people… i mean REAL legit dried cherries in a package.  so i took a big handful (about a half a cup)  -but if you can get a hold of some fresh cherries and have the patience to slice and pit them, giddy up. i’d use a cupful.  You HAVE to use Israeli couscous.  (couscous’s chubby cousin)  otherwise it won’t look or taste the same and it will be a bowl of mess.  trust me. i found some at Aldi surprisingly, so i bought five boxes! lol.  any grocer will have it though. (if it has a flavor packet just pitch it) you only need the couscous.  anyway- let’s get down to it.

WHAT YOU NEED:

around  two boxes (or two cups or so if bulk) of Israeli couscous

four or five green onions, washed and sliced -all but top two inches.

a cup of freshly pitted and sliced cherries- or about a half cup of dried cherries

a small container of crumbled feta

1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds (i love the delicacy of these in this salad- super thin, but still crunch)

a large shallot (or two small ones) sliced thinly

juice from a lemon

2 T of red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar, or rice wine vinegar- whatever you have

a small glug of molasses (maybe a tsp?)  if you don’t have this, use honey- but to be honest, i feel like it gave it such depth of flavor.

a large rip of fresh parsley (maybe a half a cup chopped)

1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin if you have it)

1/2 tsp of salt (few shakes more on top once combined)

pepper to taste

HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: 

cook your couscous in some boiling water per package directions (maybe a min less) and drain.  Rinse super well with very cold water to stop the cooking process, and then hit it with a round of olive oil and shake it in to prevent sticking.  set aside.

prep your onions, add to a large bowl where you’ll be doing all of your mixing.

prep the shallot, add to bowl.

toss in the almonds.

toss in the cherries

Add in the cooked couscous- and toss it all a bit with clean hands.

up close and personal
up close and personal

Then in a separate smaller bowl,  add your vinegar, olive oil, the molasses, the salt/pepper and lemon juice.  whisk together and dump on top of the couscous.  Add in the chopped parsley and the feta. stir gently, but well- to combine all.  Transfer to a pretty bowl for serving, and hit the top with some salt and pepper.  Enjoy!!  Awesome at room temp, but even better the next day truly- as a part of a bigger heartier salad of mixed greens and fresh cucumbers, etc!  no need for dressing when you’re adding a spoonful of this bad boy to the top!

pre toss
pre toss

One of my (many… many) FAVORITE dips…. Warm Bacon and Onion

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i have a thing for dips. salsas, quesos…. pretty much anything you can nosh on at will while waiting for more food to arrive.  let’s be honest… there’s no better place to have a dip than in your own home with your own family. no fretting over double dipping, no scooping a measly tablespoon size of the dip out on to a flimsy little paper plate and having reservations about going back for seconds or ((gasp)) thirds while chatting at a party…  no way Jose.  at home, it’s just you and the dip, in the vessel you prepared it in… eat as much or as little as you like, for as long as you like. you are the boss here.  when I saw this dip on the internet… I knew I had to make it.  except now I cannot remember where I originally saw it to give street cred.  I know I tweaked it heavily (as I habitually do) so it is a twisted version of the original anyhow.  I made it for super bowl sunday. we stayed home to watch, so it was perfect.  I hope you like this as much as I did.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

2 large Vidalia onions

five pieces of cooked bacon (cool and crumble a bit)

a heaping cup of shredded cheese (I think I used part provolone and part swiss) but you could really go any direction you want to here.  I think the original called for Gruyere- but honest to pete I think a nice hunk of Monterey jack would suit here just as nicely! it’s your rodeo.

a small container of light sour cream (I don’t know what they are, maybe 8 oz??)

a half a cup or so of mayo (I prefer Helmann’s light)

salt and pepper to taste

bread of choice for dipping.  rip it all apart (see pic) and lightly toast it in the oven for eight mins or so to give it a bit of crunch.  pitas or tortilla chips would work fine here as well, I just like the rustic look of the torn bread.  again… you do you.

HERE IS WHAT YOU DO:

HALF AND PEEL YOUR ONIONS: SLICE UP YOUR ONIONS NICELY AND SAUTE THEM IN TWO TABLESPOONS OF BUTTER on medium to low heat until they get going and then reduce heat to low. ten more mins or so until they look beautiful and brownish.  (I used a cast iron skillet here, it is not necessary to do this, but keep after them and low heat if you do- as it retains wicked heat)  Keep in mind: when caramelizing onions…. low and slow. I added my salt and pepper here too.

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WHILE THESE ARE GOING YOU CAN SHRED YOUR CHEESE.  IF YOU PURCHASED PRE-SHREDDED CHEESE, WELL THEN POUR YOURSELF A BEER OR SOME SHIT, I DUNNO.

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COMBINE ALL OF THE LISTED INGREDIENTS INTO A BOWL BIG ENOUGH FOR MIXING. MIX IT UP YO. THEN ADD IT TO A CUTE LITTLE OVEN SAFE DIP VESSEL OF YOUR CHOOSING.  TOP WITH FRESH BACON CRUMBLES, AND PUSH SOME OF THEM DOWN INTO THE DIP A BIT SO THERE IS BACON IN THE MIDDLE AS WELL. BAKE THIS UP UNCOVERED AT 400* FOR ABOUT 25 MINS OR SO.  (if taking to a party, take it right up until the bake it part, and then bake when you get there) SERVE ASAP!  ENJOY!!

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7 ingredient Watermelon Cucumber Feta Salad

an unlikely combination... sure to wow.
an unlikely combination… sure to wow.

the first time I tasted this salad, a doctor friend of mine brought it to work to share with all of us.  I was smitten. somehow, the saltiness of the feta was the perfect, albeit unlikely compliment to the sweetness of the juicy watermelon.  Add in crunchy seedless cucumber chunks and fresh basil… and you’re about to board the happy train. I wanted to keep this very simple, but still chocked full of flavor- so I added as few things as possible to the mix.  technically, you could leave out the cucumber if you didn’t have it, and it would be just as yummy.  I do enjoy the crunch of the cukes though – and they bulk it up a bit more as well.  I added shallot, one small one, as I thought the red onion would be a bit overpowering.  the recipes I viewed on the internet called for mint.  I prefer basil in mine, so I went with it.  I like the taste of fresh squeezed lime, so I used some of that as well.  ok enough talk… HERE IS WHAT YOU DO.  

purchase: need

a bit of watermelon

a block of feta cheese (costs more than crumbled, but looks OH SO much prettier here)

a small shallot

a juicy lime

a small handful of basil (maybe 7 leaves) chopped

a seedless cucumber (or a few of those cute baby cucumbers Aldi carries)

two tablespoons of either red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar

TO PREPARE THIS:

decide what bowl you want to serve this in, and then make only that much.

carefully dice up some of your watermelon  **(I write this assuming everyone knows how to cut a watermelon… but if not here goes. Cut watermelon in half, lay one half cut side down on your cutting board and begin to carefully slice this into slices going from right to left or left to right. if you want to chunk it- carefully cut rind off and cube it nicely into a container. otherwise cut slices in half and place in airtight container if you are that person who likes to eat it off of the rind. I am NOT that person. I like my watermelon chunked and in a pretty container ready for me to scoop out a bowlful at any given moment.  my husband and my daughter are the rind types. I just don’t get it.)

cut your feta into pretty chunks.

slice/chunk your cucumbers.

wash and cut your basil

cut your shallot into thin slices.

in a small bowl, squeeze all of the juice from one lime.  to this, add a bit of vinegar. mix them and set aside.

in a large bowl (big enough to toss this with clean hands…) add all ingredients. pour the lime and vinegar juices on top.  toss together with clean hands.  transfer to your serving bowl.  if extra, store in airtight container for up to four days.  it won’t last that long, trust me.  Enjoy!!

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grilled chicken bacon poppers ~ whoa good!

everyone is entitled to an opinion... except those who don't like BACON.
everyone is entitled to an opinion… except those who don’t like BACON.

ok people… I have said it before, and i’ll say it again… I DON’T trust people who don’t like bacon!  I like it in the morning, I like it at lunch on a BLT or on a big fat beefy burger when out indulging with friends.  I like it wrapped around fat juicy scallops… there isn’t an end here people, so I will just stop.  I recently discovered this FUN new trick with bacon so I thought I’d share it with ya’ll.  Chicken tenderloin bites wrapped in a half a piece of bacon, and secured on skewers for ease of grilling.  Pop them off the skewers once cool enough, and serve them as the main squeeze, as an appetizer with friends (we dipped in BBQ sauce… but think ranch, think a Sriracha/Maple syrup dip, anything goes here) or a couple of them alongside a juicy burger as an over the top addition!  however you serve them… you’re gonna like them.

WHAT YOU NEED:

CHICKEN TENDERLOINS (CUT INTO BITE SIZED CHUNKS)

BACON (CUT IN HALF)

SKEWERS

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wrap them as shown and skewer them to secure.

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ADD FRESH BLACK PEPPER  IF DESIRED

GRILL THESE OVER MEDIUM HEAT AND CHECK OFTEN. they will be dripping a lot so the flames will be dancing upward. Careful not to burn the bacon.  if needed, place over indirect heat. You will work it out.  Once chicken is cooked, you are golden.  allow to cool for a few mins and then remove to a platter.  Enjoy!!

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these are great with freshly sautéed asparagus as well.
these are great with freshly sautéed asparagus as well.
or as I mentioned... alongside this big fat son of a gun.  YUMMO.
or as I mentioned… alongside this big fat son of a gun. YUMMO.

basic muffin recipe ~ make it your own!

“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.
“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.”
“Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.”
~Oscar Wilde… the trouble with being earnest.

This is a very basic muffin recipe that I have spun to my liking by using unrefined coconut oil.  I have made this recipe as is, bare bones with mini chocolate chips only.  I have added two mashed nanners and dark chips, which I show here with pics.  I have added fresh raspberries and white chips.  I have added lots of cinnamon and dried cherries.  take this wherever you like, as it is a solid, sturdy muffin mix that is wickedly adaptable. (which is a very admirable quality in my humble opinion)

Don’t ask me about nutritional value, because I can’t get wrapped up in that shit.  I know I can pronounce and see all of my ingredients, and they are fresh.  That is what I deem important. Feel good about knowing what you are feeding your wee ones and yourself.  I usually let the tots have two… and then we eat a healthy lunch.  you do you.

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup coconut oil (warm it for 25 secs in microwave to liquefy)

Add ins:  (3/4 c choc chips;  two mashed nanners;  3/4 cup blueberries; 1/2 c shredded coconut;  almonds; whatever you think would be yummy.  if berries, gently stir in at last min, or better yet poke them into the muffins once poured into cups)

I usually add a dash of nutmeg over my flour as well, just for a little flavor punch.

WHAT YOU DO:

mix it all together in a bowl in order listed…. easy peasy.  lightly grease muffin cups and evenly distribute.

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ready for the oven!
ready for the oven!

400* for 18 mins.  remove from tins carefully loosening sides with butter knife- place into a lovely towel lined basket and let cool a few minutes.  Enjoy!!

MAKES 12 LARGE MUFFINS.

quite fresh and good and comforting!
quite fresh and good and comforting!

FOODIE FANTASIES

many a night i spent dreaming up ways i could make a food delivery service come to fruition.  i’d turn over scenarios in my head… catchy names, food truck artwork,  meals that would be eaten easily while standing or sitting in the grass, visions of hipsters noshing on a paper lined boat of my fabulous ‘something or other’ and posting about it on twitter or the FB.   i imagined rolling through Larryville in my converted mail truck throwing peace signs out the open door/window here and there.  rocking out to death cab for cutie… wearing an apron with the words ‘SHARE GOOD VIBES’  on it.  i could finally get that cute little spoon tattoo on my hand at the base of my thumb!   and then maybe later a santoku knife on my other wrist (cause you know you’re always thinking about your NEXT tat the minute you leave the parlor)…   this is literally how i would fall asleep more nights than i can remember.  i still do sometimes… even though i have done the homework and know how hard it is to turn even a meager profit while manning a food truck biz.  it is a labor of love, as a brick and mortar restaurant would be as well.  be prepared to be married to it they say.  fourteen hour days are the minimum, with sixteen hour days being more realistic, after preparation, clean up, book keeping, and maintenance woes on a daily.  not to mention finding a co-owner, helping hand or hired staff you can trust and rely on always.  not a good look for a wife and mother of two.  life is hard sometimes.  you know what you enjoy doing… you know you are good at it… you know people would LIKE what you sling… but you meet roadblock after roadblock when thinking of how you can get there.  more often than not, it’s money.  things cost money. A LOT of money.  to get a food truck up and running and stocked with equipment, etc etc- you’re looking at at least 30G’s start up cost… rockstar trucks decked out with bells and whistles… 70 G.  but hot damn are they beautiful.   if i was rich/ aka a trust funder or one of those lucky SOB’s who hit a powerball ticket with a group for 4 mill a piece… Hell to the Yezzesss i’d be all over this.  i’d service private picnics or corporate events…  do festivals and fairs… have FUN with it.   but for now, i am a nurse.  i make a fine and comfortable living doing it.  make no mistake in thinking me ungrateful for said career.  i worked hard to become a nurse, and it was not easy.  i feel proud of this accomplishment in my life- especially deciding to do it late, as i was about to turn 30 and already working as a social worker after college.   nursing has been good to me.  to us.  but this post is about passion.  about the Foodie world that exists in my mind.  so i do what anyone in this situation would do.  i think small.  what can i do that would simulate being a part of the food service industry while allowing me to harness some of my entrepreneurial spirit???  i seek out small groups of people that would like me to cook for them.  ie: a pediatrics office full of busy, hungry medical professionals who get an hour lunch break each day;  a group of hungry policemen who are notorious for working up appetites  while out fighting crime.  the latter had me cooking for them a week before Christmas this year… and they were pleased as punch with the whole foodie event!   prior to this i cooked for my co-workers, who also found the whole delivery yummy and satisfying!   so i am having fun with it… but on a small scale.  my food truck is my silver Subaru… and i am finally using up some of the hundreds of containers i bought online late one night when i was feeling extra ‘ready’ to make this REAL.   after all, a girl’s gotta dream.  if you never CHASE you dreams you will never CATCH them.

micro side salads
micro side salads
chicken parmesan over penne with red sauce
chicken parmesan over penne with red sauce
small batch homemade vinaigrette
small batch homemade vinaigrette
slow cooked sausages sliced over cavatappi with red sauce
slow cooked sausages sliced over cavatappi with red sauce

 

garlic bread - lined up like little soldiers
garlic bread – lined up like little soldiers
hot soup, ready for 16 oz containers.
hot soup, ready for 16 oz containers.

Here piggy piggy….. melt in your mouth pork roast…

soooo… i just have to be honest here. i have never met a pig i didn’t like.  i mean let’s be honest. they are adorable to look at when they are little, they are fun to watch when they are MASSIVE… and when my hubby worked part time on a local farm to help pay the bills last winter, the stories of the big pigs were always my faves!  at one point he had to fight one of them off with a broom handle to avoid getting knocked over and trampled in the mud! they can be brutal and mean! but they are so funny and somehow still cute even at 600 pounds!  it was hard to keep a straight face when he told me that story.  when there are farm animals around, the first thing my kiddos run to are the pigs. they love feeding them with baby bottles, and listening to their oinky cute sounds.

piggy pic

however…….  (and i know i’m gonna get flack for this next statement)  i have never met a more tasty animal.  i mean come ON…. bacon?? enough said.   a big succulent slice of ham at Christmas time??? shut the front door.  crispy sausage links dripping in maple syrup alongside your cinnamon french toast??  hold the phone Ma.   sweet italian sausages slow cooked in red sauce all day long and sliced over a bowl of pasta??  That’s Amore.  shall i go on??  crispy yet melt in your mouth pork belly tacos with mole sauce and cilantro??   just yes.   carnivores… you’re feelin’ me?    but the one piggy dish i love preparing most is a slow roasted pork butt with a nice spice rub… dotted with garlic cloves… and served atop a nice sturdy bun with a drizzle of BBQ sauce, a heap of coleslaw and some spicy bread and butter pickle chips.  smack my ass and call me Sally.  this meal is sure to please, and with ease.

so here’s what it looks like before going into the oven.  (get about a 3.5-4 lb pork butt roast- boneless or bone in- either way) whatever looks good to you. try to pick one that has a nice layer of thick fat on the top.

rub it down yo
rub it down yo

this rub, i just make it up in a small bowl with all flavors i envision imparting good flavor.  it goes something like this.   take your 1/4 tsp spoon, and pull out some garlic powder, some chili powder, some cumin, some dried parsley, some dried mustard, paprika, onion powder (if you have it, i never do), dried thyme and black pepper- you’re lookin to add even amounts of all of these.   a pinch of cayenne, add a whole tsp of salt, and add a whole Tablespoon of brown sugar.  mix it all up in the bowl, and rub that sucker down good on all sides.  i always do this inside my foil- so that it catches all the ‘crumbs’ in the vessel i’m gonna bake it in.  stab it a few times to create little slots for the garlic and jab some peeled cloves in those slots.  hit it with a drizzle of olive oil all over the top.  flip it to FAT layer side up.   so yeah, the Foil… lay out a big sheet, then put another sheet going the other way, etc- unless you have that lovely Heavy duty, extra large foil… in which case you’re golden.  the goal here is to wrap this up so well and tight, so that the juices are trapped in the foil.  ya’ll are crafty.  fold and pinch this foil like it is your job.   place this foil in a pyrex dish, just to catch any juices that will inevitably escape.  see visual below:

ready for oven
ready for oven

i always start this out at 425* for like 25 minutes, and then i turn heat to 270* and let her go for five hours at least. i’ve done six before when i had to leave and didn’t get to do the pre-game 425* part.   still perfect.  never, under any circumstances unwrap this during the cooking.  when it is done, remove from oven and let it sit for ten mins or so.  unwrap, drool, and then let it sit for ten mins more.  perfect time to pluck off the corners and stand around taking pictures and sipping a cold beer if you’re anything like me.   See below for the big reveal:

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drooling on my camera
drooling on my camera

SHRED THE PORK now in the baking dish you cooked it in… allowing all the juices created to run into the pan as you gingerly remove the foil from around the meat.  use two forks, or however you like to do this. i like some big chunks coupled with small shreds- i feel that makes a good sandwich.  Add BBQ sauce if you have a favorite, honestly it is tasty enough to stand alone on the bun or plate.  i like mine as i described above- with a healthy serving of tater tots or crispy crowns-  and an ice cold craft beer.  Life doesn’t get much better than that folks.   Enjoy!!

Stellar.
Stellar.

 

 

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