Sometimes Less is More

on Saturday, April 10, 2010

I've tried to love it.

I worked, I slaved, I spent days preparing sponges/poolish, dousing my sourdough starter with pineapple juice, taking dough temperatures, checking my gluten to see if it made a windowpane; I rested dough on couches of dusted kitchen towels, I weighed ingredients precisely by grams and ounces, and after a few exercises in painful precision, I have come to a sad conclusion:

Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice" may be beautiful bread porn, and may be worth the effort for others, but it is not for me.

I've gone back to an old standby... "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day", and the results are good enough that I don't feel the need to do three plus stage doughs, or mess about with sourdough starters from scratch.

I talked to friend with two kids, who said that while he loved the idea of getting complicated, he was too busy to find it worth doing more than the five minute method of mixing dough, and then just taking it ready to rock from the fridge to a peel and into the oven.

You can just have anything you want anytime you want it, with little to no effort.

The results are great. You can buy it here. You won't be sorry.

Layout Repairs

on Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I finally got back to this, and picked a layout that didn't have quite so much of a problem with running out of bandwidth for hosting pictures that were included.

It's not as lush/luscious/verdant, but I hope you will bear with me.

You've done so through me not posting, and you (reader) not existing, so I think we'll make it through.

Semi-Lina bbq

This is quick, this is also dirty.

I might clean this post up later.

I might not.

I will most DEFINITELY come back to give you my means/method/"wisdom"/tricks for making spicy red cabbage coleslaw. It goes so nicely with this. This was the email I sent directly to a good friend, former co-worker, and generally good person whose son was facing cancer surgery and needed pork, apparently. I'm a HUGE fan of bbq'ed pulled pork shoulder, but don't have the smoker or the patience to do it right. With some guidance from the lovely Tyler Florence, here is my heavily adapted method for slaking your pork-ey thirst using just a plain old conventional oven.

BTW, kids, pork shoulder is nearly cheaper than chicken parts, just so you know. For the cost of one or two sandwiches in a local bbq joint (if you live in the city, at least) you can make 10 pounds of meat for sandwiches. Better, cheaper, and if you feel free to disregard all the flavor directives I might have you can make it the way you happen to like the best... which really does make this the best pork sandwich ever.

(N.B.: I have made some changes since I wrote this email... I will edit this post potentially, and soon, to address that... nothing major, nothing life-or-death, but some additional refinements are always good, and always part of my thought process.)

But for now...

Semi-Lina Oven Pork Bbq:

1 whole pork picnic shoulder, about 6-7 pounds, or Boston Butt if you prefer

Dry Rub:

2 tbsps Hot Smoked Paprika (regular paprika works as well)

1 tbsp Garlic Powder

2 tbsp Coarse Salt

1 tbsp Onion Powder

1 tbsp Mustard Seed, ground finely (or 2 tbsp mustard powder)

Black pepper to taste (don’t be shy, & use fresh ground at all costs, tellicherry is preferred)

3 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar (this is a ballpark figure, more sugar will give a darker crust)

Red Pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp depending on your heat preference

Start with one pork butt or pork shoulder, mine was a “whole picnic shoulder” from the supermarket & was almost 7 pounds. While the cut I used was a bone-in cut, boneless cuts are even easier to work with & it’s your call to go in whatever direction you’d like.

I took the skin off the pork shoulder, I’ve tried it both ways & prefer it skinless for roasting as you wind up with more of the desirable “bark” analog, the crust from roasting for a long time at low temperatures. Also, having made this with a short dry rub marinating time, the bark was far inferior. Rush the dry ru at your own peril.

Take your pork shoulder, skin removed, & prepare the dry rub. Rub the pork shoulder as much as possible, & leave (preferably overnight) to marinate. Even a few hours will be of use, but an overnight in plastic will give it more flavor, & also make a nicer crust on the roast. Removing the skin from a pork shoulder is, to say the least, awfully disgusting. Feels a bit like appearing in "Alive: The Musical!" Tough it out, campesinos. It's worth it.

Put it in a roasting pan, in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven, & let it go for about six hours. When it comes out, let it rest, remove as much fat as you’d like from the roasting pan, & begin “pulling” the pork. It will come apart remarkably easily. Remove the bones as you go along, & then tear or chop the pork as much as you like. I like some texture left over, but still with a reasonably small average size piece of pork.

As to the saucing, I prefer my pork with a moister, more heavily sauced quality to it. In certain schools of Carolina barbecue, the sauce should be as simple as possible, vinegar with red pepper & a touch of sugar to cut the intensity. I like my pork wholly sacrilegious & am giving you that version here. This begins with a Piedmont style vinegar sauce, which has some tomato, & I’ve added some mustard to it as I happen to like it that way. Omit if you don’t like it, keep it in if you do. Most sauce recipes will call for water in addition to the vinegar, but later steps here make that unnecessary (I’m adding a TOMATO BASED barbecue sauce later. Traditionalists are advised to look away, or possibly lie down until the vapors pass.)

In light of the sweet, inappropriate, tomato-ey addition, I’m using partly white vinegar in this initial sauce. Traditional recipes call for exclusively cider vinegar, but I find with the added sweetness of the preparation that cider vinegar is not strong enough to balance the flavors out in line with what I happen to like. Again, your mileage may vary.

Vinegar Sauce:

3/4 cup White Vinegar

3/4 cup Cider Vinegar

1/3 cup ketchup to start, add more if you like

2 tbsp dark brown sugar

2 tbsp coarse brown mustard, add more if you prefer

1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

When adding the red pepper, & the black pepper, bear in mind that these will intensify as they steep, so I’d advise making this a day or three in advance, & then checking it before you serve the pork, to see if you need to balance the flavors with more vinegar (for tang), more sugar (for obvious reasons), or more ketchup (for a buffer of any of these elements.)

I like to serve this in a crockpot on low, add equal amounts of the vinegar sauce & your preferred traditional bbq sauce. This is just my preference, & a guideline. Add enough to give some moisture to the overall preparation.

In a crockpot, you can keep this at serving temperature on low for the duration with no trouble.

I kind of like it served with some very normal coleslaw, and on the cheapest, most guilty pleasure hamburger buns, but your mileage may vary.