Summer Pulled Pork – 2 Ways

Blueberry Cornbread

There is something about the heat of summer that gets me craving barbecue, especially pulled pork.  It also gets me craving fresh corn with my pulled pork. With these cravings stirring around in my mind, I decided to try a twist on the traditional summer barbecue.

Several months ago, I brewed my first batch of homebrew. It was a straightforward, uncomplicated ale. Still having a couple of bottles laying around, I wanted to incorporate it somehow.

Bottles of Homebrewed Ale
Bottles of Homebrew

I picked up a pork tenderloin from Earth Fare, put it in a slow cooker, and dusted it with a little garlic salt, paprika, chili powder, and cumin, roughly a 1/4 teaspoon of each.

Pulled Pork Seasonings
Seasonings for the Pork

I put then poured a bottle of homebrew in with the tenderloin. I let the tenderloin cook on low heat in the slow cooker for about 6 hours. I have only tried this with my homebrew, but I bet you could impart a variety of different flavors into the pork by using different styles of beer.

Pork in the Slow Cooker
Seasoned Pork in the Slow Cooker with the Homebrew

While the pork cooked, I threw together some blueberry cornbread in my cast iron skillet. To make blueberry cornbread, heat 1/3 cup of vegetable oil in the cast iron skillet as you preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups of self-rising cornmeal, 1 1/3 cup milk, 2 eggs, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Remove the skillet from the oven and carefully pour the hot oil into the cornbread mixture, stirring well to incorporate the oil. Pour the mixture into the hot skillet. Lightly dust 1/2 cup of blueberries with all purpose flour and drop them into the cornbread mixture. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cornbread is a golden brown color. I always love cornbread, but I especially love the combination of blueberries and cornbread. I’ve tried this recipe with blackberries too, but the blueberries work better.

Blueberry Cornbread
Blueberry Cornbread

I also made some blueberry-corn salad by cutting the kernels off of two fresh ears of corn and mixing them with fresh blueberries and halved grape tomatoes. I did not measure the ingredients, but just added blueberries and tomatoes to the corn until the proportions looked good to me. I also lightly seasoned the salad with salt and pepper to taste.

Blueberry Corn Salad
Blueberry Corn Salad

For my barbecue dinner, I sliced a wedge of cornbread in half and topped it with pulled pork and blueberry-corn salad. I gave the food a light drizzle of Amy’s Organic Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce. Heavenly.

Pulled Pork Dinner
Pulled Pork Dinner

I ate more blueberry cornbread for breakfast the next morning, but for lunch the following day, I was thrilled to have some pulled pork left over. I piled some pork between sandwich thins, added some leftover salad, and topped with more of the BBQ sauce and some dill pickle slices for an incredible barbecue sandwich.

Pulled Pork Sandwich
Pulled Pork Sandwich

These two pulled pork dishes helped satisfy my cravings, at least temporarily. If you get adventurous and try experimenting with different beers to make pulled pork, please let me know how it turns out. Happy barbecuing.

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A Prosperous Plate (Hoppin’ John, Greens, and Cornbread)

In traditional Southern cuisine, dinner on New Years Day is filled with foods that symbolically set the table for prosperity in the coming year. Dinner on New Years Day includes black eyed peas (representing coins), greens (representing cash), and cornbread (which represents gold). Not wanting to miss out on some good luck, I made Hoppin’ John, sautéed kale, and cornbread for dinner. I don’t know if it will bring riches for the coming year, but it was definitely a great dinner to share with friends.

To bring us gold, I made cornbread. I actually cheated to save time and made Jiffy cornbread from a box, but cooked it in a cast iron cornbread pan.

Jiffy cornbread
Jiffy cornbread

I felt a little bad about not making cornbread from scratch until my friend Kyle said that the cornbread was delicious and “much better than cornbread from that little blue box.” I almost held my tongue, but finally admitted that it was in fact “cornbread from that little blue box.”

Cornbread from that little blue box
Cornbread from that little blue box

To bring us cash, I made kale sautéed with garlic. This quick and simple recipe results in delicious greens that are neither bitter nor mushy.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and add sliced garlic. Let the garlic flavor infuse the oil. As the garlic starts to turn a light golden brown, toss in a bunch of kale (stems removed and leaves sliced into approximately two-inch squares). With a pair of tongs, turn the kale several times until it starts to wilt. Add a light drizzle of red wine to the skillet and let the kale steam for a minute. Season with salt and pepper and remove while the kale still has a little bit of crunch left.

Sautéed kale
Sautéed kale

To bring us coins in the coming year, I made my version of Hoppin’ John.

For my take on Hoppin’ John,  add two cups of uncooked white rice to four cups of boiling chicken stock. Simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until all of the stock is absorbed. Using stock instead of water makes the rice taste a lot richer (and we are certainly going for richer with this meal) and helps develop the flavors of the dish better.

Rice and chicken stock
Rice and chicken stock

Slice four chicken sausages into 1/4 in wide coins and sauté in a skillet with olive oil over medium heat until the edges of the sausages start to get crispy. To the skillet, add a small diced onion, a diced red bell pepper, and a minced clove of garlic. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent. Add about 12 ounces of black eyed peas (I used fresh black eyed peas, but using dried peas that have been soaking overnight should work fine too).  Stir the ingredients together and spoon in the rice, mixing well between each spoonful. Season the Hoppin’ John to taste with salt, cracked black pepper, and ground red pepper.

Hoppin' John
Hoppin’ John

Kyle and Shannon joined us, bringing a bean salad with black eyed peas for added fortune. With gold, cash, and coins represented on the plate, we enjoyed something much more valuable than money — the opportunity to share dinner and fellowship with great friends.

Hoppin' John, kale, cornbread, and bean salad
A Prosperous Plate

Although they have no obvious symbolic meaning, we rounded dinner off with some cake ball pops that Jill and Shannon made.

Cake ball pops
Cake ball pops

Happy New Year!