flip over cherry cake

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Unless I did something very wrong, calling this a cake is a bit of a stretch. In fact, it’s very similar to a cobbler recipe I’ve made, which used the same technique of pouring batter over melted butter, topping that with the fruit, and baking. It seems an odd method to me; why not mix the butter with the rest of the batter?

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Maybe leaving the butter separate contributes to the “flip-over” aspect of this “cake”, which can also turn it into a cobbler with the dough on top of the fruit. It’s perfectly edible – sugary, fruity, and buttery – but I have to admit that I like my bready parts to be more substantial. On the other hand, a scoop of Greek yogurt made this a good excuse to eat dessert for breakfast.

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Becky chose this fruity cake/cobbler/pudding for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. I substituted cherries for the plums and increased the salt.

One year ago: Tarte Fine
Two years ago: Cottage Cheese Pufflets
Three years ago: Creme Brulee (comparison of 2 recipes, in which Dorie’s won)

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blueberry barbecue salmon

blueberry salmon 7

Dave and I sometimes go to lunch at a little coffeehouse that used to have only one sandwich option each day. There was no pattern to which sandwich would be available when, so we would just cross our fingers for reubens or the turkey pesto panini. It’s fortunate that neither of us is picky, but there was one sandwich I got there that I disliked – tuna salad with chunks of apples.

blueberry salmon 1

I’m working my way around to sweet and savory combinations, and thinly sliced apple on a sandwich with cheddar and turkey sounds appealingly crisp and sweet. I like applesauce with pork. But I could not wrap my mind around chunks of apple in tuna salad, so, like a picky little brat, I picked them all out.

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And yet blueberries in barbecue sauce sounds like a perfect match. Barbecue sauce is a mix of tangy, spicy, and sweet flavors, so why not throw some fruit into the mix to add to the sweet balance. I had never eaten salmon with barbecue sauce, but salmon is so rich and meaty that it’s a perfect match.

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In the end, I could hardly taste the blueberry anyway, although the barbecue sauce was a particularly vibrant shade of purple. Maybe that means this wasn’t a true test of my sweet plus savory acceptance, but I still think it’s one step closer. Just don’t give me one of those chicken salads with grapes in it.

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Housekeeping: If you’re reading this through a feed reader like Google Reader, you’re missing out on my brand new design! Click on over to check it out. I’ve also added a couple of new pages – a long overdue list of my favorite food blogs and a few notes on how I approach recipe writing and categorizing. Finally, I’ve created a Facebook page for The Way the Cookie Crumbles, because apparently between this blog, Twitter, and at least half of my personal conversations, I wasn’t getting enough avenues to talk about food.

One year ago: Penne alla Vodka
Two years ago: Amaretto Cheesecake
Three years ago: Mashed Potatoes with Kale

Printer Friendly Recipe
Blueberry Barbecue Salmon (adapted from How Sweet It Is via Pink Parsley)

Serves 4

4 (6-oz) salmon fillets, skin on
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic
pinch red pepper flakes
½ cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
⅓ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Prepare the grill to its highest setting. Pat the salmon dry and season it liberally with salt and pepper.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown around the edges, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the blueberries, and cook until they begin to soften and burst, about 10 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to mash them, then add the ketchup, vinegars, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk well to combine and break up the blueberries, then increase the heat to medium. Stirring often, cook until the mixture begins to bubble, then lower the heat to medium low. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, another 10-20 minutes. The sauce will be thicker and clumpier than traditional barbecue sauce.

3. Use a paper towel and tongs to oil the grates of the grill well, then lay the salmon, flesh-side-down, on the grill. Cook 5 minutes, then carefully flip. Brush the salmon with half the barbecue sauce, then cook an additional 3-5 minutes, or until it is mostly cooked through but still pink in the center. Remove from grill, brush with the remaining sauce, and serve.

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sweet corn hash

sweet corn hash 5

I went to the local farmer’s market for the first time in over a year this morning and was sadly reminded why I hadn’t gone to the local farmer’s market for over a year. Apparently a farmer to the locals is someone who makes little crafts, not someone who grows stuff. The only vegetable for sale was zucchini, and we already have plenty of that.

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So I’ve been buying my summer corn at the grocery store, which just seems wrong, doesn’t it? Ears of corn should be bought out of the back of a truck on the side of the road. That doesn’t seem to be an option here, but it would be a shame to go the whole summer without eating corn just because I can’t find a local vendor selling it.

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It doesn’t take much more than the word “hash” to get me excited about a recipe. It’s hard to go wrong with a dish based on browned potatoes topped with eggs. Buying corn at the grocery store instead of the farmers market might not feel as satisfying, but it works just fine, especially once the corn is mixed with lightly caramelized onions, browned potatoes, and crisp bacon.

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One year ago: Whole Wheat Challah
Two years ago: Potato Tomato Tart
Three years ago: Fruit Bruschetta

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Sweet Corn Hash (adapted from Joy the Baker)

Serves 4

Joy roasted her potatoes, but I thought it would be easier to brown them in the skillet with the rest of the ingredients. She also adds butter at the end to increase the richness of the dish, but I figured a couple slices of bacon would have the same affect, while contributing great flavor of its own.

We also stirred in some chopped roasted green chile, because ‘tis the season.

4 slices bacon, chopped
4 medium red potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
4 ears corn, kernels removed
¼ cup parsley, minced
salt and ground black pepper
4 eggs

1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until almost crisp. While the bacon cooks, put the potatoes in a medium microwave-safe bowl; spoon a couple teaspoons of rendered bacon fat from the skillet into the bowl; stir. Cover the potatoes loosely and microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring twice.

2. Add the onions and potatoes to the skillet with the bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the corn and most of the parsley. Lower the heat to medium-low. Using the back of a spoon, create 4 wells in the hash. Break one egg into each well; season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook, without stirring, until the white is set, about 8 minutes. Garnish with the remaining parsley; serve immediately.

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spice-rubbed picnic chicken

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Family vacations require a careful balance of time together and time apart. Originally, my family found that cruises worked well – everyone does their own thing during the day and we meet up for dinner. The last few years, we’ve started renting a house on the beach for a week. We still make sure to have dinner together every evening, but now we have to cook it ourselves.

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Despite my love for spending time in the kitchen, I have a greater love of sitting on the beach drinking margaritas. No one in my family is willing to cook dinner for the group every night. Instead, we take turns. On one trip, I made pasta with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, salad, and crostini topped with white beans and with tuna. Last year, everyone built and then grilled their own pizza. Fajitas and chicken gyros are also crowd-pleasers.

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Between shredding cheese, preparing toppings, and stretching out ten rounds of dough, last year’s pizza extravaganza was ambitious. This year, I wanted something easier. This baked chicken is perfect because it’s actually meant to be cooked in advance, which means I can do it whenever I need a quick break from the sun.

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I mixed up the spices at home, so all I need to do on vacation is rub them on the raw chicken the day before it’s my turn to cook and store the meat in the refrigerator overnight. The chicken soaks up spice and salt, which also helps it retain moisture as it bakes. It ends up tasting like barbecued chicken that’s been smoking all day on the grill, but it’s completely undemanding. Undemanding is what vacation is all about.

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One year ago: Green Goddess Salad
Two years ago: Lemon Meringue Cake
Three years ago: Tuscan-Style Couscous Salad

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Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken (from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves 8

If you have space to store 5 pounds of chicken pieces in your refrigerator all lined up on a baking sheet, you are lucky to be so rich in fridge space. I just pile the spiced chicken in a bowl with a cover.

As you can see from the pictures, I did not cut the breasts into smaller pieces. Obviously it took longer to cook, but it worked fine.

5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or a mix with breasts cut into 3 pieces or halved if small), trimmed of excess fat and skin
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
¼-½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Use a sharp knife to make 2 or 3 short slashes in the skin of each piece of chicken, taking care not to cut into meat. Combine the salt, sugar, and spices in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Coat the chicken pieces with the spices, gently lifting the skin to distribute the spice rub underneath but leaving it attached to chicken. Transfer the chicken skin side up to wire rack set over rimmed foil-lined baking sheet, lightly tent with foil, and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.

2. Secure the skin of each breast piece with 2 or 3 toothpicks placed near the edges of the skin.

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 425 degrees. Roast the chicken until the thickest part of smallest piece registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees and continue roasting until the chicken is browned and crisp and the thickest parts of the breast pieces register 160 degrees, 5 to 8 minutes longer, removing pieces from the oven and transferring to a clean wire rack as they finish cooking. Continue to roast the thighs and/or drumsticks, if using, until the thickest part of the meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from the oven; transfer the chicken to a rack and let it cool completely before refrigerating or serving.

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pesto

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Pesto is super simple, right? Just dump some ingredients into the food processor, and thirty seconds later, you have pesto. And while that’s true, with a few extra simple steps, you can ensure that your pesto will live up to its maximum potential every single time.

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Traditionally, pesto was made in a mortar and pestle, which smashes the ingredients into each other instead of cutting them like the food processor does. It sounds horribly tedious. You don’t want to do that.

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However, it is important to do more than slice basil with the food processor blade. Consider that when you want to smell an herb, what do you do? You rub it between your fingers, not tear it in half, because bruising the leaves is what produces flavor. So to maximize the flavor of your basil, you need to bruise the leaves before cutting them.

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You can do this with almost no extra effort using a trick I picked up from Jamie Oliver – just put the basil in the food processor, but with the plastic dough blade instead of the knife blade. It takes only a few seconds longer and produces just one more small utensil to clean, but it makes a big difference in flavor. Before I started using this trick, sometimes my pesto would taste grassy, but now it always tastes basil-y.

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You probably also know that toasting nuts brings out their flavor, and it isn’t hard to do on the stovetop. I also like to toast the garlic, because I am not a fan of the tongue-stinging sharpness of raw garlic. Toasting the unpeeled cloves in a dry skillet tames garlic’s bite with very little effort. And that’s it – you’ve maximized the potential of every ingredient in pesto, ensuring dependably outstanding pesto, and it only took an extra minute or two.

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One year ago: Yogurt-Marinated Lamb Kebabs
Two years ago: Tortellini Soup with Carrots, Peas, and Leeks
Three years ago: Summer Rolls

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Pesto

2 ounces pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
Salt
1 large bunch (6 ounces) basil leaves, washed and dried
1-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ ounce (¼ cup) freshly grated parmesan

1. Heat a small empty not-nonstick skillet over medium heat for several minutes. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute, until they’re golden brown and fragrant. Pour the nuts into a food processor bowl fitted with the knife attachment. Add the garlic to the skillet and toast, without stirring, for about 1 minute. When the first side is dark brown, turn the garlic cloves onto another flat side and continue toasting for another minute. Peel the garlic and transfer it to the food processor with the pine nuts.

2. Add ¼ teaspoon salt to the garlic and pine nuts. Process until the nuts and garlic are finely ground, 10-15 seconds. Replace the knife attachment with the plastic dough blade. Add the basil to the food processor and pulse until the basil is bruised and fragrant, about ten 1-second pulses. Remove the dough blade from the bowl and return the knife attachment. Process until basil is finely chopped, a few seconds.

3. With the machine running, slowly pour the oil into the feed tube. Scrape the sides of the bowl; process until evenly mixed. Stir in the parmesan. Serve, refrigerate for a few days, or freeze for months.

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peaches and cream scones

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Scones are just an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast. It’s a better disguised excuse then chocolate muffins, I will grant you, but in the end, equally bad for you. I think I might sound like I’m complaining. I’m not complaining.

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Cream scones are one of my favorite weekend morning accompaniments to coffee. The cream makes them so tender, and when they’re only lightly sweetened, like these, they’re perfect either topped with jam or baked with fresh fruit. A sweet biscuit, peaches, and cream – you can’t tell me that doesn’t sound like one heck of a dessert.

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Lynne chose the cream scones for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. I left out the currants and added one peach, peeled, chopped, and frozen, to the dough after the liquids were partially mixed in.

One year ago: Brrrownies
Two years ago: Brioche Plum Tart
Three years ago: Chocolate Pudding (comparison of 2 recipes)

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baked eggs in mushrooms with zucchini ragout

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When Cara asked me to guest post and offered the suggestion of focusing on a vacation that I’m excited about, I jumped at the chance to chatter to a new audience about my upcoming trip to Italy. Italy! Venice! The Cinque Terre! Tuscany! Rome! And then there’s the stuff that I’m really excited about – wine and espresso and cheese and pesto and bread and seafood. Also wine. Check out Cara’s blog to read about the Baked Eggs in Mushrooms with Zucchini Ragout I made, which involves no wine or espresso or pesto or bread or seafood. At least there’s cheese.

summer berry pie

summer berry pie 5

Dave enjoys and then forgets the vast majority of what I give him to eat. And how not to? I make so many different things that even I’m surprised sometimes when I scan through old unused pictures (two types of cucumber salad? orange-glazed tofu? raspberry muffins? The pictures prove I made these things, but I don’t remember any of it).

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But once in a while, I make something that stands out to Dave enough to not only remember it, but request it again and again, even years later. I hadn’t made this pie in two years, but once berries start to come into season, Dave starts asking about it.

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Often, fresh fruit pies are associated with the gel-shellacked versions you get in buffet lines. This pie replaces that gel with the barest coating of fruit jelly, which gives the fruit a beautiful shine without adding any flavorless goo. Instead, a layer of fruit puree holds the filling together while intensifying the bright berry flavor. With ripe sweet berries and a dollop of freshly whipped cream, it’s no wonder this dessert is so memorable.

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One year ago: Triple Chocolate Espresso Brownies
Two years ago: Strawberries and Cream Pie
Three years ago: Croque Madame

Printer Friendly Recipe
Summer Berry Pie (from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves 8 to 10

Currant jelly is smooth and bright red, so very attractive in this pie. However, I didn’t want to buy it because I don’t use it for anything else. I used raspberry jam, which I probably should have strained but didn’t.

Crust:
5 ounces graham crackers, broken into rough pieces (9-11 full crackers)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm

Filling:
2 cups (about 9 ounces) fresh raspberries
2 cups (about 11 ounces) fresh blackberries
2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
⅛ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons red currant jelly

Whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream (cold)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, process the graham crackers until evenly fine, about 30 seconds. You should have one cup of crumbs. Add the sugar; pulse to combine. Continue to pulse while adding the warm melted butter in a steady stream; pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate; use the bottom of a ramekin or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Bake the crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 15 to 18 minutes; transfer to wire rack and cool completely while making the filling.

2. FOR THE FILLING: Combine the berries in a large colander and gently rinse; spread the berries on towel-lined rimmed baking sheet and gently pat dry with additional towels.

3. In a food processor, puree 2½ cups of the mixed berries until smooth and fully pureed, about 1 minute. Strain the puree through a mesh strainer into small nonreactive saucepan, scraping and pressing on seeds to extract as much puree as possible (you should have 1¼ to 1½ cups). Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl to combine, then whisk the mixture into the puree. Bring the puree to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon; when the mixture reaches a boil and is thickened to consistency of pudding, remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and set aside to cool slightly.

4. While the puree is cooling, place the remaining berries in a medium bowl. Heat the jelly in a second small saucepan over low heat until fully melted; drizzle the melted jelly over the berries and gently toss them together until the berries are glazed. Pour the slightly cooled puree into the cooled pie shell and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Distribute the glazed berries evenly over the puree and gently press into the surface. Loosely cover pie with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled and the puree has set, about 3 hours (or up to 1 day).

5. FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM: Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and continue beating until the cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 seconds for soft peaks or about 30 seconds for stiff peaks. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust the consistency.

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brown sugar blueberry plain cake

Dave and I have fun during the winter teasing his family in Ohio about how while they’re bundling up and shoveling snow, we’re sitting outside drinking margaritas. They curse us, and then I try to temper this obnoxiousness by claiming that we’ll pay the price in the summer.

But I’m not sure we will. We have a good system for dealing with the heat. It involves a kiddie pool full of water to dip our feet in, frequent breaks to come inside and cool off (the perfect time to prep dinner), and, of course, margaritas.

I suspect that summer in the desert will be particularly awesome, and not just because of the heat that we love. There are also tomatoes, corn on the cob, and blueberries so cheap the stores are almost giving them away. Mostly I’ve been eating them straight, as the best snack you could ever ask for, but I’m never against adding my favorite fruits into dessert either. But as soon as the cake is baked, I’m heading back outside with my margarita.

Cindy chose this cake for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. I doubled the salt and used a 9×9-inch pan instead of 7×11-inch. I originally had some ideas of things I might tweak for next time, but to be honest, as good as this cake was, I’ve had other blueberry cakes that I like more.

One year ago: Raisin Swirl Bread
Two years ago: Parisian Strawberry Tartlets
Three years ago: La Palette’s Strawberry Tart

barbecued pulled pork

The best part of barbecuing a whole pork shoulder on the grill is that you are forced to spend all day outside tending the grill. I can’t think of many better ways to spend a Saturday. We started the grill before breakfast, then spent the rest of the day in the backyard.  First we drank coffee, then some water because you have to to survive, even on weekends, and then it was time for afternoon margaritas, and then we capped it off with beer, because what else are you going to drink with pulled pork?

The truth is that while you do need to keep a constant-ish eye on the grill, you don’t need to spend much time actually doing anything with it. Once the pork is cooking, it takes just a couple of seconds every hour or so to add a handful of fresh coals. A thermometer is key to monitor the temperature, although a cheap oven thermometer – which is what I used – will work just fine.  And if you do find the temperature varying widely, it won’t ruin your pork; just let it slowly come down to the right temperature range or add more coals to bring it up and continue cooking. Cooking a whole pork shoulder on the grill is a simple and forgiving process, even if it does take a long time.

I know the question everyone is asking: Is it really better than crockpot pulled pork? Well, of course it is. Crockpot pulled pork, especially using the same spice rub, is incredible – flavorful, tender, and easy easy easy. Barbecued pulled pork isn’t as moist and as a result, its flavor seems more concentrated. It’s still easy to pull, but it has more chew than crockpot pulled pork, which can get mushy if you’re not careful. The biggest difference were the outside bits of the roast, which were deeply browned and crisp. (This is not the same thing as the blackened top in the photo below, which is a thick layer of fat that I discarded.) Dave and I filled up on those while I was still shredding the roast. But the best part of making pulled pork on the grill as opposed to in the crockpot is that while one method frees you up to do chores and run errands all day, the other keeps you in the backyard with a book and a beer.

One year ago: Home Corned Beef and Corned Beef Hash
Two years ago: Orange Oatmeal Currant Cookies
Three years ago: Hash Browns with Sauteed Vegetables and Poached Eggs

Printer Friendly Recipe
Barbecued Pulled Pork (spice rub from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves a lot

The least messy way I’ve found to add the spices to the meat is to line a rimmed baking sheet with a large piece of plastic wrap. Set the pork on the plastic wrap; add the spice rub, rotating the meat to rub all sides. Wrap the plastic wrap around the meat, then wrap another layer of plastic around in the opposite direction.

I use all of the spice rub on one roast, but if you think it’ll be too much, save half for another use. It’ll keep in the pantry for months.

Spice Rub:
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground white pepper

1 (6-8 pound) bone-in pork shoulder

1. Combine all of the ingredients in the spice rub. At least one day, and up to three days, before cooking the pork, rub the spice rub onto all sides of the pork (see note). Wrap the pork in a double layer of plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or up to three days.

2. About 10 hours before you plan to serve the pork, remove it from the refrigerator; let it set at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile, soak 4 wood chunks (or 4 cups of wood chips) in water for an hour.

3. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to grill, light about 30 charcoal briquettes (half a chimney starter). Once the coals are covered with a layer of ash, dump them into a pile on one side of the grill, then top with ¼ of the wood chunks or chips. Open the bottom vents completely. Place the meat, fat side up, on a double layer of aluminum foil with the edges folded up or in a 9×13-inch disposable aluminum baking pan. Place the meat on the side of the grill opposite the coals. Put the lid on the grill with the vents opposite the coals; adjust vents to be ¾ open.

4. Use a grill or oven thermometer to monitor the temperature of the grill, which should remain between 200 and 250 degrees. Add fresh coals, about 8 every hour, when the temperature drops. Add more wood chips an hour after you start cooking, then again at the 2- and 3-hour mark. (Don’t worry if the top of the meat blackens; you’ll discard that layer of fat anyway.)

5. After about 5 hours, when the internal temperature of the pork reaches 165 degrees, wrap it completely in foil. Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the pork is 195 degrees, another 2-3 hours.

6. Remove the pork from the grill and let it set at room temperature, covered, for one hour.

7. Place the pork on a large rimmed baking sheet. Remove and discard the thick layer of fat. Use your fingers or forks to shred the remaining meat. Serve.