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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gobs of Pork

I was going to be running the UDS today, and since it makes little sense to run it for just one piece of meat, I decided to add some pork to my cook schedule. And since I was doing that, why not do a little creative cooking. So I found a really nice pork butt, took off a couple pounds for making char siu and the rest would be cooked to make Pulled 'Carnitas'-style pork. This meant the butt would be smoked with no rub at all. Here it is, ready to do, such an easy preparation. My friend Sir Porks A Lot would be proud, no rub.

Pretty much that is ready to go

Strips of marinated pork butt

The other parts received a marinade, so it could be smoked up as char siu (Chinese BBQ Pork). This was done the night before and allowed to rest over night in the fridge. Then it all went onto the smoker, at 250F for 2 hours. Then the butt went into a Dutch oven that had 2 stalks of celery, 5 stalks of green onion, 1/2 yellow onion, 2 limes and a few cloves of garlic. Covered and back into the smoker. Started at 250F, but, I had opened the intakes to ramp up heat. After an hour, things were at 275F and the char siu was colored up and ready to come off. Along with the marinade, 3 hours of smoke left these tender, juicy and beautifully colored. I did remove the cover from the DO, so the liquid would evaporate. The Char siu worked out great, so great, I decided to snack on it and ignore the smoker.

Hunks of char siu, and a turkey loaf

Did I mention the turkey loaf? No? Well, maybe because it sucked! Dry as popcorn farts! But that Chinese BBQ Pork was great. Onto the Phase Two, which I had forgotten about, the cooker had spiked wickedly hot, got it controlled to 375F, but, that was for two hours. No problems, as it turns out, BBQ is just not a 'down to the second' process. Around four hours, I removed the bone and around 5 hours the pork had rendered down into chunks of tender, caramelized pork.

Looks pretty good

Texture and flavor are right where I wanted them. These shred easily, but, hold their form rather nicely when handled. The flavor is savory and well balanced with the lime adding some nice sweetness as well. These will probably end up as dinner tomorrow.

Char-siu marinade:
2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
2tablesoons Soy Sauce (dark or regular, not light and never lite)
1.5 tablespoons whiskey
2 tablespoons Agave syrup or glucose syrup
 1 teaspoon salt (which I forgot to add)
1 teaspoon catsup
1.5 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup honey

Mix first seven ingredients and place in a sealable pan or zip sealing bag. The honey is to glaze the pork in the last 15 to 30 minutes of the cook.

Bone a pork butt, you can use up to 2 lbs of meat for this amount of marinade. Cut boned butt into 3" thick strips. Try to remove large hunks of fat.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Egg Foo Young, nuthin' fancy here

Tonight, nothing fancy, if you grew up in 1960's or 1970's America, you knew this dish. It was a staple of the Cantonese restaurants the popped up throughout the vernacular landscape of America. Like Chop Suey, these were dishes that were more typical to America than to China. Yet, this is the place I grew up, and this is one of those dishes that define comfort for me. In truth, it is an simple, hearty and delicious plate of food, something people doing manual labor would welcome.

Old-style Comfort, Chinese-American style
My version, like the original features egg as a binder and the main protein, a small amount of shrimp for taste and aroma and a load of vegetables. A normally simple brown gravy would top this dish, I kinda riffed on that, as I had a few things to use up.

Egg Foo Young Egg:
3 XL eggs, whipped
1.5 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1-2 dashes dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Hoisin

Combine all ingredients, let sit at room temperature.

Egg Foo Young Filling:
3 stalks scallions, green sliced, white chopped, separated
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1-1/2 cups bean sprouts
2 Shiitake mushrooms coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely diced celery

Toss all ingredients in a hot wok to wilt vegetables. Limp but still with a little crunch. Remove and cool. Add to egg mixture.

Egg Foo Young Gravy:
1.5 cups chicken broth, or water
1 teaspoon beef base (or demi-glace, go crazy!)
1 tablespoon Dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Hoisin, or half/half Hoisin and Doenjang (fermented bean paste)
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon agave syrup or glucose syrup
3 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons corn starch

Heat first 7 ingredients up to combine to a low simmer. Once it is at a simmer, combine cornstarch and water, add to other ingredients and simmer to thicken.

Too cook the omelets, I like to add a little bit of the egg to coat the vegetables, and keep the rest of the egg mix separate. Using a wok, add 1/2 inch of oil to the bottom, you may need more as time goes on. Add 1/5 of the vegetables to the hot oil and pour some of the egg over the vegetables. Let it fry over low heat until the omelet forms on the bottom. Add a little egg mixture to the top and flip over. With a little practice, this is easier by flipping the wok. Cook until golden brown. Store under a low broiler and repeat process until done. Serve over rice.