Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pulled Pork and Black Bean and Tomato Salad, Homemade BBQ Sauce and Caprese Pasta Salad

I love Independence Day.  We always have family here from out of town, and Lander is quite possibly the best place in America to celebrate.  We have a parade, a buffalo barbecue, the oldest paid rodeo in the world, and a local dentist puts on a patriotic fireworks display that is amazing. 
They broadcast the fireworks program over the radio, and the fireworks are choreographed to the music and the story.  We always drive up on the hill by the rodeo grounds, and sit in lawn chairs with the radio cranked and enjoy the show. Dr. Bills pasture where he shoots off the display is directly across the valley from it.. 
The computer equipment that he uses for the show is so complex only Disney and another company in Japan have it.  It is a world class fireworks display.  I always get so choked up over the story that goes with it.  It definitely makes you think how lucky we are that people sacrificed and stuck to their ideals to create our nation.
My son Ryan was born on the second of July, so I am planning a family party.  I have been busy the last couple days making Cowboy Beans to serve at the party.  It is a recipe that uses dried pinto beans, so it takes two days to make:  one to soak the beans, and one whole day to cook it in the crockpot.
Today, I am making pickled vegetables, and some jelly to go along with the meal.  I had some plums that got a little soft, so I cooked them down and strained the juice through a cheesecloth.  This beautiful pink juice will get enough apple cider added to it to make 5 cups of juice necessary for the recipe for jelly.  I'll be making some giardinera, or pickled mixed vegetables, and some pickled beans for the party.  They only need twenty four hours to be ready.
I'll be partially putting together my Crunchy Asian Coleslaw today, too. I'll not put in the ramen noodles until right before the party so they will still have a little crunch to them.  
On Saturday, I'll be roasting a whole pork loin to serve along with the beans, and we'll have some southwest corn bread to round out the meal.  It will be delicious with butter and a little of the plum jelly I'm making today. 
Ryan is partial to German chocolate cake, so I'll be baking that as well. If I can find my recipe for Aunt Grace's chocolate cake, I'll use that.  Otherwise, it will be a box mix.  I use applesauce in the box mix to replace the oil, and make homemade frosting. 
I always make up big batches of deli style salads to have during the holiday weekend, and that will happen tomorrow.  I have a spare fridge in our garage we use for soda and overflow, so I can pack it full, and then when family is here, I can actually enjoy the company instead of living in the kitchen the whole time.
I have a meat slicer, and I'll cook some beef and slice it thin, along with some cheese to have for sandwiches.  I can thinly slice tomato and onion to keep in a tupperware for salads, too.  I love my meat slicer!
Yesterday, while the beans were cooking, I put a whole pork shoulder roast in my second crockpot.  I don't season my pulled pork until I add the barbecue sauce, as I think the salt draws out too much moisture from the meat, and is a much moister meat if it slow cooks without any seasoning.  Once it gets to the stage where it will fall apart, I pull it out onto a baking sheet and with two forks, I shred the meat.  I then add the hot homemade barbecue sauce.  We will be able to heat this up for sandwiches, or will serve it over hot rice.
Even though I don't add liquid to the roast as it slow cooks, there is always almost a quart of pork juice left after cooking.  I don't throw this away, but keep it and freeze it if neccesary to add to beans or collard greens, or to use to make pork gravy.  After it cools, I'll skim all the congealed pork fat off and throw it away. 

Homemade Barbecue Sauce
1/3 C tomato sauce, or ketchup
2 T yellow mustard
1 T minced garlic
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/3 C cider vinegar
1 T splenda brown sugar
1 T dark agave nectar
1/2 tsp tajin seasoning
In a small saucepan, heat the above ingredients until they are bubbly hot.  Combine with pulled pork, and serve on a bun or over rice. Extra sauce keeps well in the refrigerator. 

Cowboy Beans
2 lbs dry pinto beans
enough water to cover
In a large bowl, soak the beans in cold water the day before cooking them.  I like to change the water once, usually at bed time.  The next morning, I rinse the beans again until the water runs clear, and they go into the crockpot with enough water to just cover them again.  To that I add:
1 quart/box chicken stock
1 cup tomato based salsa, or tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 T minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 heaping T ham soup base
2 chipotle peppers ( I put them in whole and then remove them before serving)
2 C chopped celery
4 large carrots peeled and sliced
2 onions chopped
Because of the salty ham soup base, I don't add extra salt
Pepper to taste
Cook on high for twelve to fourteen hours.  You want the beans to be tender but not mushy.  Once it was cooled, I put it in the fridge for the party.  On Saturday, I'll pull it out an hour before the party, and put it back in the crockpot on high.

I had a big bowl of tomatoes, and a large cucumber that needed used up, so I made a big batch of this black bean salad.  We will enjoy it with burgers and sandwiches over the holiday weekend.

Southwest Black Bean Salad

5 vine ripe tomatoes chopped
2 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped fine
1/2 red onion chopped
1 can black beans that have been drained and rinsed
1 can corn drained
1 cucumber peeled and sliced in half moons
Combine all ingredients and dress with Lime Cumin Dressing.  Refrigerate overnight in a covered container.  Serve cold or at room temperature. 

Lime Cumin Dressing

juice and zest from one lime
1/3 C red wine vinegar
2 heaping T cilantro (either fresh, or from a tube)
1 C salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
1 tsp ground cumin 
2 T olive oil
2 T splenda
1 t minced garlic

Another of my favorite salads is a cold pasta salad with tomatoes, fresh basil and boccaccini (small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese.  I love Caprese Salad, which is an arranged salad of alternating slices of ripe tomato with rounds of fresh mozzarella.  It is served with fresh torn basil, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  It's not complete without a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  I have adapted it to add whole wheat pasta. 

Caprese Pasta Salad
3 ripe tomatoes diced
1 C fresh basil torn into little pieces
1 pkg short cut whole grain pasta cooked and drained
1 shallot diced
1 carton fresh boccaccini balls drained and cut into halves
drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar and coarse salt and pepper to taste.  Better after it sits covered in the fridge for a while. 
It is great served with grilled chickena or fish, or as a lunch on it's own, with a crusty piece of bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment