Southern Pulled Pork

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Southern Pulled Pork

Happy Hump Day to ya! Has the summer sun been chased away by the rain in your area? It’s been raining off and on for days now and while I am glad to have a break from the heat, this rain is trying to put a damper on the summer fun. If you’re like me you probably swear by your grill all year long including the sweltering hot days of Summer! That makes you a serious Griller because not everyone can manage the heat that comes from cooking on a grill out in the hot scorching sun. We are the true survivors! ūüôā Me, I’ve braved all kinds of weather outdoors in pursuit of outdoor grilled delicacies. It was during Hurricane Isabel over 10 years ago that I manned the grill that provided the only cooked food we had access to for weeks with no electricity. Then I can’t forget about the tropical storm two years ago that flatlined my daughters’ outdoor birthday bonanza; we didn’t have electricity for a week and a half and had resorted to living off of our grill and generator. Then there are those times that during the winter the indoor grill pan won’t cut it. I’m going outside coat, apron and all in pursuit of that flame killed perfection. You get it? I likes’ to get my grill on. I’m the Grill Master of our family and I hold that title proudly yet this rain makes it tough to do. I like traditional charcoal grills. I don’t like fooling with propane tanks or whatnot. Plus, nothing beats that flavor you can evoke from the charcoal and some wood chips if you like to go the extra mile.

With rain in our forecast for the past few days I decide to rely on my trusty oven to do my next to favorite cooking process – low and slow. You can’t go wrong with cooking anything low and slow. So that’s what I did for the pork shoulder I bought from my favorite store, Kroger. I live in Kroger y’all. I’m seriously considering applying for a part time job there because I spend so much time and money there. There are lots of ways to ensure you get a dynamite pulled pork. Some folk like to brine their pork shoulder first. Some may brine and then sear it before slow cooking. This time around I opted to season it with my store bought dry rub and wrap it in plastic wrap. The seasoned and wrapped pork shoulder went into my fridge overnight.

 

The next day I woke up, thanked God for another day and got back to this beautiful pork shoulder. My oven was pre-heated to 225 degrees. I removed the plastic wrap and placed the pork shoulder with the skinside up into a roasting pan. I covered with tightly with aluminum foil and set my timer for 7 hours. Then I went about my day. Even though there is a little prep and time involved – it’s actually a no frills, no fuss type of meal. These are the meals I love.

Seven hours breezed by so fast, before I knew it my timer was beeping and the house was smelling absolutely divine. This is when I pulled together a quick smoking sauce to pour over the almost one Pork Shoulder. I used Hickory flavored liquid smoke, apple cider vinegar, Louisiana Hot Sauce and Worcestershire sauce in my smoking sauce. A quick blend of all the liquids with a fork or whisk, and then I poured it all over my pork shoulder and wrapped it back up with foil and put it back in the oven for 2 more hours. The remaining seasonings minus the dry rub were used to season the pulled pork once cooled and shredded.

After the two hour mark my pulled pork was to my liking. It was fork tender, so I removed the skin and fat cap from the top first.

With the skin and fat removed I used to fork to pull my pork shoulder apart.

The pulled pork was seasoned additionally with the likes of Ground Cumin, Chilli Powder, Ancho Chile Pepper, Garlic Salt, Onion Powder, Smoked Paprika and Crushed Red Pepper flakes. We like ours to have that tinge of vinegar flavor, so I also added more apple cider vinegar. I also used a little salt to season with overall but not much because I have two folk in my house with High Blood Pressure.

 

All in all this pulled pork was so flavorful, moist and tender! It was definitely a home run and I always know I did it again when I see the look on my husband’s face when he tries it. His face said it all, it was a hit! Since his diabetes scare I had reverted back to brown rice, so I boiled him a bag of brown rice to go with it. Personally I’m not a pork over rice type of girl, I like a pulled pork sandwhich and I was lacking the cole slaw so I wasn’t even any of it until I could have it the way I wanted it. A portion of it was put aside for my husband’s dinner and the rest went in a plastic bowl and lid for the next day…his birthday!

At the store the next day I retrieved hamburger buns, cole slaw mix and my dressing of choice, Marie’s. I spice my cole slaw up with a little smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. To add to his birthday fiesta I used leftover chicken breasts to make fried chicken tenders (from the Chicken, Sausage and Mozarella Pasta I made the other day), grilled lobsters and steamed white shrimp. I always include veggie and fruit trays because my family loves fresh vegetable and fruits. I can’t forget his cake – a yellow cake with whipped icing from you know where…Kroger. He loves the cake with whipped icing, so I was glad I was able to find one since I hadn’t had the time to order his cake beforehand.

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Dad’s Birthday Table

I’m thankful that my husband was able to celebrate another year of life knowing that the people who love him most, appreciate him and celebrate his life and presence, not just on his birthday but every day. We had a great evening of food, family fun and lots of love.

So the Southern Pulled Pork was a hit and my husband’s birthdy fiesta was a hit! I’m so grateful that God’s grace has made it all possible. ¬†This Southern Pulled Pork recipe is another one of my tried and true favorites that will be included in my soon to be released, “A Very Pleasant Home”.

How do you like your pulled pork? Over rice, or on a bun like me? My thoughts when it comes to buns are keep it simple. Every time I’ve tried some fancy bun or roll, it has thrown off the texture and bite of a Southern Pulled Pork. A simple hamburger bun will do the trick.

Hope your Hump Day is off and running, the weekend isn’t far behind. What am I going to cook up next? I have no idea but right now I still have lots of pulled pork and buns so I’ve got time to figure it out. Check back for more great meal ideas and more!

Peace and Blessings,

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

Kroger

 

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Peri Peri Chicken

I know what you’re thinking. How did I end up cooking Portuguese Peri Peri Chicken? Well I saw a chef make it on one of the many cooking shows, it might have been Beat Bobby Flay. It looked delicious. Peri Peri ¬†or Piri Piri chicken is grilled whole chicken that has been butterflied, or split or cut into leg quarters that has been marinated and basted in the peri peri sauce. The peri peri (or piri piri) sauce is made up of a blend up Peri Peri or african bird’s-eye pepper, garlic, sun ripened lemons and spices. Originally I thought this dish was Portuguese as there are spanish variations. However I prepared the African version as I used a shortcut this time, the already bottled and packaged Nando’s Medium Peri-Peri sauce. I did want to fix it but I didn’t want to buy a long list of ingredients to make the sauce, sometimes I’m here for it – the homemade taste and flavor of cooking from scratch. Then there are those days when I am absolutely not here for it. I want to cook, I want it to be good but most importantly I want it to be convenient. So I grabbed two bottles of this 4.7 oz bottle because I was skeptical if I could make such a small amount go far. But at $3.49 a bottle in Kroger, two had to do.

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Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce (Medium)

It probably would have been cheaper to buy the ingredients and make the sauce, but again, I was buying time and convenience in a bottle. I would also benefit from getting the authentic Peri Peri flavor versus what I hoped it should be if I made it myself. So it was still a win win situation. I found mine at my Kroger on the condiment aisle. Once back home in my kitchen I prepped my chicken leg quarters for the marinade. I opted to get quarters because they are affordable, you get a gang of them, and I would have a bunch left over to cook another day. Still winning right? Right. So with my chicken rinsed and dried I covered 4 leg quarters in a gallon zip loc bag with a whole bottle of the sauce. I massaged the sauce into the meat and let the bag rest while I lit my grill. Normally I would recommend marinating your chicken overnight. If you don’t have time, 30 minutes is better than nothing. While my chicken marinated and the grill heated up, I googled side dishes that went with the Peri Peri chicken. I found a rice dish and grilled corn. Of course I included a side salad because that’s a staple at my table.

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The leg quarters marinating in a Ziploc bag covered in Peri-Peri sauce.

 

Once my coals were nice and hot I placed 4 leg quarters on the grill rack that I had already sprayed with Canola oil to keep the meat from sticking. Sometimes I cover the grill rack with aluminum foil when I want to slow down the cooking process or prevent the food from cooking too quickly. When I’m cooking bulky meats like leg quarters I try to get a direct heat source to help them cook evenly and completely. The best advice I have received to date is to cook to temperature and not time…when it comes to meats anyway. The quick marinated leg quarters went directly on the grill rack and were basted with the remaining sauce from the bag before it was discarded.

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The leg quarters grilling and basted with Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce.

 

While the leg quarters cooked on the grill I went back inside to prepare the rice dish, Portuguese Rice. Yes I know, I thought I was on a whole Portuguese thing with the chicken but I was already invested – no turning back. Again the ingredients were pretty straightforward: long grain white rice, olive oil, chopped onion, minced garlic, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, bay leaf, chopped tomatoes, water, parsley, and cilantro. The recipe calls for fresh herbs but fresh herbs go bad quickly. I keep dried herbs on hand because it’s more convenient and affordable. First you want to get your oil hot in a sauce pan.

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The chopped onions cooking in the olive oil for the Portuguese rice.

Once your onions have softened a little bit, you add in the garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. This cooks for about a minute or so and then the chopped tomatoes are added. Your tomatoes need a couple of minutes to soften and then the water, parsley and cilantro are added and brought to a boil. Once boiling the rice is stirred in and then the pot should be covered and the heat reduced to low. The recipe suggests cooking the rice undisturbed for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. An additional  5 minutes of rest time is given before the rice is fluffed for serving.

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The finished Portuguese Rice. Looks pretty good eh?

With the rice done, the chicken was coming along beautifully. It had a slight char around the edges but it was cooking to a golden brown with splashes of red peri peri sauce. During the grilling I had used the half of the second bottle to baste and brush the leg quarters as  flipped them over. I pulled the leg quarters about five minutes after they read 165 degrees on my meat thermometer and covered them in foil.

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Peri-Peri Chicken

Along my research I also stumbled upon Peri Peri chips and sauce. Essentially it’s potatoes that have been either cut or sliced in chip form and fried and served with a sauce that is mayonnaise and peri peri sauce mixed together. I short cut it and picked up a bag of Kroger potato wedges and whipped up the sauce (1/4 cup of mayo and 4 tablespoons of peri peri sauce) while I fried the potatoes in my cast iron pot. I tossed the fried potato wedges with smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.

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Kroger’s Potato Wedges with Skins

The final product looked pretty good once I put it all together. If you ever eaten at Chicken Fiesta, my finished plate almost resembled a meal from their menu if I have to say so myself. What do you think?

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Peri Peri Chicken, Portuguese Rice, and Peri Peri Chips with Perinase

I can’t forget I shucked a couple of pieces of corn, and cleaned and then covered with olive oil, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic powder, and old bay. I grilled the corn about 12-15 minutes while turning the corn over 5-6 minutes. The plate above is my husbands’ plate who doesn’t care for corn. The ¬†plate below is the plate I prepared for myself and my mother in law.

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Peri Peri Chicken, Portuguese Rice, Peri Chips, Portuguese Grilled Corn and Perinaise

With all of the semi hard work done it was finally time to eat. Upon first bite the chicken was juicy and flavorful. The Peri Peri sauce was spicy and tangy. It wasn’t overly spicy but mind you I got the Medium version. There are a Hot and a Lemon Garlic version as well. The Portuguese rice was different. It too boasted lots of flavor but there was one flaw. The rice was still crunchy and ¬†this was after determining at 20 minutes additional cook time was needed. So I added more water, replaced the lid and put it back on low setting to cook longer. I know I cooked it another 30 minutes or more and it still wasn’t completely tender. I didn’t care for the corn. I would have preferred it if I had boiled the corn first to get it tender and moist first before grilling. The Perinaise wasn’t my cup of tea. It was a little thick in taste and texture. In the future if I were to attempt it again, I might add more spices and fresh lemon to the mayo to lighten it up a little more. I ended up eating my peri chips with ketchup. Overall the meal was entirely delicious. The rice was still a hit, I would definitely add more water and a longer time to cook. My husband liked it. I liked it. I definitely didn’t get my kids to try this. This was way too elevated for their peculiar taste buds.

I give this meal 3.5 out of 5 stars, it delivered on the flavor and it was not very complicated to put together. With the modifications discussed I think this could definitely be a five-star meal. ¬†So what’s next on my plate? Umm, at the suggestion of one of the doctor’s at my kid’s dental practice…baked alaska. Interesting right? Yeah, and my oldest son’s birthday is Monday and even though I bought him a traditional store brought cake, I still want to do something special for him. Two cakes for a special kid. So check back to see how my Baked Alaska turns out!

Till next time РHappy Eating  and Be Blessed!

Tameka, A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

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