Monthly Archives: January 2010

Pulled Pork – my way

I went back thru my archives and realized I had not posted about my pulled pork.  Drat. I thought I had done that.  What I did do is post a Youtube video – actually a very basic, somewhat boring one – that was a Powerpoint/Photos of my pulled pork process.

Several years ago, I went out to Google, my “now” favorite recipe place looking for pulled pork recipes.  I stumbled on one that was more of an epic discussion rather than a recipe.  I’m searching everywhere to see if I can find the original link so I can give credit to it in one of my blogs.

The basics of the recipe are this – cooking the pork, with no seasonings on it whatsover, slowly over charcoals.  It’s what you put in the coals that makes this dish.  The recipe called for 8 heads of garlic – that’s heads, not cloves.  You place them directly on the coals during the course of cooking the pork.  The pork is cooked to the side, ie not directly over the coals so it’s more of a smoking process than a grilling one.   I always use Pork butts for my recipes.  Two nice sized butts can and has fed 25 people two sandwiches each.  Even the people who said they only wanted one sandwich ate two – this recipe is that good.

What I did to kick it up a notch was two things.  I use wood from my apple tree and during certain times of the year, when I can get green leaves from the tree, I add them as well.  The greener the better as they make lots of fragrent smoke.  Then, I take hickory chips and soak them in Jack Daniels.  Again, this makes fragrent smoke.

Finally, after the pork has reached 160 degrees internally, I take it off the fire, put it in a dutch oven, cover the  bottom of the pan with 1/4 inch of apple cider vinegar, put on the top, and bake it one more hour at 350 degrees.  After I remove the butts from the pots, I make my sauce using the cider in the bottom.  I add tomato sauce, brown sugar and worchestershire sauce for the nice sweet/sour taste.  I put the sauce in a bottle in case people want to add it themselves.  The pork itself is so flavorful, you really don’t need the sauce so that’s why I always serve it on the side.

All that’s left is the pulling and making the coleslaw. Oh, yes, to be official, there has to be coleslaw.

A group of us were sitting around the table a while ago talking about barbeque and all the variations and differences.  It’s amazing how broad it is.  For sure, if it’s Pig, it’s East coast and southern.  If it’s beef, it’s Texas and parts west.  If you are in the UK, it’s a verb not a noun.  And not everyone puts coleslaw on their pulled pork.  That appears to be focused in the North Carolina area but other states have gratiously adopted the recipe as well.

As usual, I did some digging in Google to try to find out origins of recipes and to find out why Pig versus Beef was the way it was.  I stumbled on several articles that said long ago, settlers brought hogs to the south and released them into the wild.  They multipled where cattle didn’t survive.  As a result, pig  became a southern staple.  Interesting.  I haven’t stumbled on when coleslaw started getting added but it’s out there for sure when you research pulled pork recipes.

Well, that’s it for now.

Ciao, y’all


New Years Traditions

One of my New Years resolutions was to update my blogs more often.  What more fitting topic for keeping that resolution than talking about New Years traditions in food.

My mom was over for the holidays and we were working on preparations for our New Year’s dinner.  She said we absolutely had to have black-eyed peas.  And, there had to be a dime put in the beans when they were served.  We’ve always done this and I wondered how the tradition was started.

First off I asked her if she had ever eaten greens as well when growing up in the deep south.  We seldom had the greens but I heard the tradition was greens and the peas, the peas representing coins and the greens representing green money.  She said she had but since when we were young she didn’t care for greens she didn’t make them.

My husband’s family, being Pennsylvania Dutch, eat pork chops and sauerkraut as their tradition.  With mashed potatoes. Yuk.  I love my hubbie dearly so I eat this once (and I mean only once) a year for the luck.  Since I had never heard of this before marrying him, I am assuming this is a Northern tradition.  Oh, and it has to be pork because pigs root FORWARD when eating (which is good luck) as opposed to rooting BACKWARD like chickens.  Ok, now that’s just plain strange.

All this talk about traditions launched me on another Google quest – when did the black eyed peas and greens tradition start and was the pork dish only Northern.  The first thing I found said the eating of black-eyed peas for luck was  generally believed to date back to the Civil War.  Originally planted as  food for livestock, it became a food staple for slaves in the South.  Because of this, the fields of peas were ignored by Northern troops who destroyed or ate other crops.  This meant the peas became a reliable and LUCKY food source for Confederates soldiers.

However, as I dug deeper, I found the pea tradition is far older than the Civil War.  The tradition of eating black eyed peas for luck at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is recorded in ancient Babylonian texts.  The first Sephardi Jews arrived in the state of Georgia in the 1730s and have lived there ever since. The practice was apparently adopted by non-Jews around the time of the Civil War.  Now that’s interesting.

As I delved even deeper, I found out the idea of pigs and foraging for food isn’t only a Pennsylvania Dutch idea.   Remember, a typical Southern dinner for luck was greens and peas.  The peas, since they swell when cooked, are supposed to symbolize prosperity (or as noted above the,  “coins” of money), the greens symbolize green paper money and the pork, like bacon or ham hocks, which are a key ingredient in really good black eyed peas, are there because pigs root forward when foraging, meaning moving ahead.  Well gosh durn.  Who knew.

I found an article that talked about a possible shortage of sauerkraut because it turns out it’s very healthy.  The article noted that eating Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day is an old time Pennsylvania Dutch tradition believed to bring good luck throughout the upcoming year.  The traditional meal also  includes pork to represent rooting into the New Year.  So, that solved the “north vs south” question.  It is indeed a Northern tradition.

As we marry and our families and their traditions merge, it’s interesting to see the kinds of dinners we end up preparing to insure we survive the coming year loaded with luck.  My oldest son married a lovely girl who’s parents are Mexican and their traditional food is tamales.  And my ex-husband, who was from Panama, made sure we ate 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight – all of which had to be consumed by the end of the 12th strike of the clock.

Therefore, if we follow that thinking, in my house, if my kids and their families were all here (which would be wonderful all by itself), we’d have pork, black eyed peas, sauerkraut, greens, tamales, and grapes – and an antacid afterwards. Ah, but we’d be loaded for bear with luck and abundance.

On that note, Happy New Years everyone, and may all your dinners be filled with luck.

Ciao, y’all.