An Outdoor Barbecue Party Featuring Hot Slaw & Shoulder Sliders

Happy Memorial Day! Perhaps the long weekend will offer you more time to relax and fire up the grill, and the following recipe for Hot Slaw and Shoulder Sliders has been a family favorite for generations. My millennial son, Zan, is getting married to Lucy in 4 weeks, I’m hosting a party the night before the wedding, the boy wants mama’s down-home barbecue, and it better be good. Damn good.

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Frozen smoked, pulled and sauced pork.

Serving pork, fresh from the smoke, is BQ done right, but that special evening I want to be apart of the revelry–not an ember-scented mama, eyes watering from smoke, fingers sticky with sauce.

So I quadrupled the barbecue portion of the recipe below to feed sixty, and for the past two days, I’ve smoked 4 shoulders in my Big Green Egg; the large Egg accommodates 2 shoulders but it takes 6-7 hours to smoke them. Then, I froze the pulled, sauced pork, which I plan to thaw the night before the party. I’ll  serve it from a sterno-lit chafing dish next to the slaw and buns. Heresy, perhaps, but I’ve frozen freshly smoked pork before with excellent results.

Rose's last May, two months prior to opening.

Rose’s last May, two months prior to opening.

His bride-to-be brings me to my knees in the kitchen, her Detroit diner, Rose’s Fine Food having been written up in the May issues of Bon Appetit, (Lucy’s holding that pot of coffee in the linked article) Saveur, and past issues of the New York Times and the Detroit News.

And they’ve only been open 10 months. I’ve license to brag, right? Dang.

Family recipes are what will lend sentiment to the occasion; food from Zan’s side of the family honoring family present and those who’ve

Pork should smoke at a constant temperature.

Pork should smoke at a constant temperature.

“moved on”: my Alabama mother’s recipe be for smoked pulled pork shoulder (a.k.a. Boston butt); his uncle Allen’s recipe for Hot Slaw; his German grandmother’s recipe for potato salad; his stepmother’s recipe for carrot cake, which she (praise God) will be making. Strategically placed bowls of my own riff on Pimento Cheese, gussied up with bacon and creme fraiche, will be served with pumpernickel bread and celery sticks.  Peanuts in the shell at the bar–easy-peasie. Deviled Eggs may make a showing, if I’ve the time. For libation I’m making a whiskey punch, and for fun I’ve hired a fiddler to work the crowd.

IMG_0769Barbecue is, more than likely, the oldest form of cooking in our part of the world; whether its genesis be African slaves, Pilgrims or native Hawaiians; whoever had the great idea of devising that first pit of burning embers, and placing a pig within it to roast. The art of the pit is in it’s golden age with nationwide beloved pit masters and their BQ joints enjoying more local notoriety than their representatives at the White House.

IMG_0700For me, the key to making the best smoked pork is keeping my fire at a constant temperature (250-300 degrees), selecting my favorites woods for smoking pork (hickory and a fruity wood such as apple or cherry) and removing the pork when it temps at 190-200 degrees.

The following recipe is for the typical, popular kettle grill. A couple of years ago, I sprung for a Big Green Egg, which has made smoking infinitely easier, once you get the hang of it.  I’m able to skip the drip pan step in the recipe below, regulating heat and keeping a constant heat is a breeze, and one kettle filled with their organic charcoal is enough fuel for 7 hours+ of smoking time.

Recipe: Hot Slaw and Shoulder Sliders 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 # pork shoulder (aka: Boston butt)
  • 1/3 cup rub* (recipe below)
  • 1-2 disposable aluminum or metal drip pans for placing under the pork butt
  • 1 kettle (charcoal) grill, smoker or Big Green Egg
  • Charcoal, as needed
  • Several chunks of wood (preferred for long smokes) or 4-6 cups wood chips (I prefer mixing hickory with a milder wood, such as apple), soaked at least 1 hour
  • Cooking thermometer
  • 4-6 cups barbecue sauce (I prefer a medium-thick, tomato-tinged vinegar sauce)
  • 25-35 small rolls or 15-20 regular-sized hamburger buns
  • 1 recipe for Hot Slaw (below)

Instructions

  1. Massage rub into pork, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator 8-24 hours.
  2. Remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature 30-60 minutes, prior to grilling.
  3. Follow manufacturer’s advise if using a smoker or Big Green Egg. If using a kettle grill,  place 1-2 water pans in the bottom grill grate. Fill pan(s) halfway with water. You want the pan or pans to use about half the space at the bottom of the grill.
  4. Surround the pans with charcoal and, with a chimney starter or lighter fluid, heat coals to hot heat. Coals should be red hot and lightly covered with white ash. Sprinkle several handfuls of soaked wood chips over the hot coals.
  5. Place the top grill grate on the grill. Position the grill grate so if you are using a hinged grill grate, one of the hinged areas lifts up over the coals so you can easily add coals when needed.
  6. Put the meat on the grill away from the coals. Lay the meat over the water pans as far away from the coals as possible. Do not let the meat rest directly over the coals.
  7. Cover the grill, positioning the vent on the cover directly over the meat. This helps direct the smoke over the meat. Close all vents, including bottom vents, to keep the temperature low. If your vents and cover are extremely snug, open one vent.
  8. If your grill lid has a thermometer, it should read about 250-300°. Ideally you want the temperature at the meat level around 225-260; heat rises and a lid thermometer will show the temperature at the lid, and not at the meat level. If your kettle grill does not have a thermometer built-in, put a meat thermometer into the cover vent and check it occasionally.
  9. If the temperature rise higher than 325°, open the lid and let the coals burn off a bit. Then add some more soaked wood and close the lid again. If your temperature begins to drop below 225°, open the vents. If the temperature does not rise, open the lid and add more coals and soaked wood.
  10. For kettle grills, you may need to add additional soaked wood and charcoal as the meat smokes. (One full kettle of Big Green Egg charcoal and large hunks of wood keep a steady smoke for at least 8 hours without replenishing.)
  11. Your meat is ready when it temps at 190-200° and is easily pulled apart with a fork. Wrap in a cloth towel and place in a cooler at least an hour or until ready to serve.  Then,in a large bowl, shred with a fork and thoroughly mix pork with barbecue sauce to taste.
  12. To serve, place barbecue pork in a slider or bun and top with Hot Slaw.

*There are dozens of prepared barbecue rubs on most grocery shelves in town. You may have the ingredients to make your own signature rub just by using what you have on hand. The recipe below is a guideline and makes a flavorful rub.

Rub sit time: 24 hours + time to build the fire

Cooking time: 5-7 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): apx. 25-30 sliders 

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Recipe: Hot Slaw (may be made 24 hours in advance)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cabbage, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups shredded carrots
  • ½ red minced bell pepper
  • ¼ cup minced sweet or red onion
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1-3 teaspoons prepared brown mustard (I prefer Gulden’s)
  • Hot sauce*
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Layer the vegetables in a large glass bowl in the following order: Cabbage, carrots, bell pepper and onion. Do not combine.
  2. Whisk together the vinegar, sugar and 1 teaspoon of the mustard. Add additional mustard, hot sauce, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and pour over the layered vegetables. Do not combine.
  3. Heat the oil in a sauté pan until it begins to smoke. Carefully and evenly drizzle the hot oil over the slaw. Do not toss. Let sit 10 minutes for the flavors to combine. Toss well and refrigerate until serving.

*Most Hot Slaw fans prefer it extremely spicy so I take a heavy hand with the hot sauce. However, you can put it in, but you can’t take it out. My suggestion would be to add enough hot sauce so the slaw at least lives up to its name, then let your guests add more according to their palate’s endurance.

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Recipe: Rub for Pork

Ingredients:  Combine:

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic or onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Dinner Party to Welcome Spring

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Bryce Canyon, Utah

On Sunday’s journey back from Utah (an impromptu trip utilizing a free AMEX companion plane ticket), while poring over photographs taken hiking Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, I lamented that I forget to take my wide-angle lens.

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Better gear up when hiking The Narrows at Zion.

Still. I could never capture Ansel Adam‘s American West no matter how many strings of cameras I roped around my neck.

I suspect you may have similar experiences when traveling; put that camera phone to good use and lighten the load.

Aside from Thai Sapa, a restaurant in Springdale (the gateway to Zion) that served the most amazing fusion Asian, this was no culinary adventure–I doubt backpack sandwiches and cut-up veggies are your thing.

And now I’m sitting in my kitchen, in the throes of  re-entry blues, poring over recipes that I can carve into a dinner party this weekend.

Spring is loaded with celebrations; celebrations mean food. This past weekend Ann Arbor was inundated with graduation parties. Next weekend is Mother’s Day; Richard and I are spending it in Chicago with daughter Greta and her partner, Tom.

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Flank Steak Success: Cook over high heat and serve medium rare to rare.

We’re hosting a dinner party for a close friend Saturday night and I’ve been perusing the site for inspiration. We want to grill, closing the doors on winter, and we want to utilize the wild leeks Greta recently picked.

A Spring Green Risotto , to utilize the leeks, paired with Balsamic Flank Steak (recipe follows) that we’ll throw on the grill, and we’re in business.

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A pic I took of Greta on the telly.

For dessert Greta is making a Creme Brûlée, using a blow torch from her workshop to caramelize the top. On Mother’s Day we’ll all be watching her put the blow torch to its intended use on Discovery Channels, Epic Bar Builds that airs Sundays at 3:00 (EST).

   Love and Blessings To Mothers Across the Land!

 

Balsamic Flank Steak

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon crushed dry)
  • 1 1/2-2 pounds flank steak
  1. Whisk together garlic, vinegar, oil and rosemary. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
  2. Place the steak in a large resealable plastic bag or nonreactive dish. Pour 1/2 marinade over meat and marinate 2-16 hours refrigerated, turning occasionally. Refrigerate remaining half of the marinade; you will use this to later season asparagus and potatoes.
  3. Remove meat from marinade, pat dry and season both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. If time permits, allow steak to stand 1 hour at room temperature. Prepare grill to high heat.
  4. Grill the steak 4-6 minutes (depending on the thickness of steak and heat of grill) on each side for medium-rare; flank steak toughens the longer it is cooked.
  5. Allow the meat to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Slice the meat thinly across the grain at a sharp angle and serve.

Marinate Time: 2-16 hours

Active Time: 10 minutes

Grill Time: 8-12 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4-6

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Where there’s smoke, there’s challenge.

 

Think of the challenges in life you’ve faced. Some circumstantial–a restructuring, say, of your job to incorporate skills you’ve never acquired, and never had the desire of acquiring because it’s not your modus operandi. In my case (a typical situation), a superior at work once set me up for failure inserting complex spreadsheet analysis into an otherwise demanding schedule. A challenge, no doubt. Walking out that last day, tail tucked between  legs, the door bashed my spirit on the way out.

And then there are the invited challenges. Resolutions that might, if accomplished, improve your health: avoiding excess sugars, or training and then finishing your first triathlon–challenging yourself to beef your financial situation by acquiring a particular degree or skill set. Or taking on a challenge that might improve your character, your community, hell, maybe you’re that breed of person that takes on a challenge to better the planet.

There are the daily challenges and the life-long. One, for me, has been affording the time to write a novel, indeed, many novels. But that degree in English morphed into a degree in communications.  Ain’t no money tree in my back yard. My first job was as a copywriter in Manhattan for a Public Relations firm. But the itch still itched and I kept scratching.

My first attempt was a book with the working title, “On Heretics and Snails”. But after opening my store, The Back Alley Gourmet, the book never made its way out of the card file. After selling the business, and working odd jobs here and there, I landed contract work writing a weekly food by-line for the Ann Arbor News that morphed into MLive. Loved that job; great fodder for the feeder. Getting close.

I conceived the story, Simmer and Smoke: A Southern Tale of Grit and Spice, five years ago after a visit to my family in Alabama. Upon my return to Ann Arbor, I wrote that first, all-important sentence, which is, perhaps, the only sentence that hasn’t altered through years of re-writes. Yesterday I finished my final proof; I’ll be birthin’ a real book soon, Miss Scarlet.

IMG_6000In the meantime, there’s a more immediate challenge: to clear counters of tax-related BS so I can cook. Eating a lot of Tricked-out Ramen these days.

Here a recipe for Caldo Verde, a delicious Portuguese kale and potato soup that I appreciate making during tax season. It doesn’t require much counter space and uses inexpensive ingredients. Alas, it’s time to shore up your money as the tax man’s a comin’, palms outstretched, breathing down your neck.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Potato and Kale Soup)

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Potato and Kale Soup)

 

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