Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » Southern Pulled Pork
Southern Pulled Pork

After a few weeks in North Carolina and a family reunion themed on remembering our roots, I wanted to spend the month of August putting a twist on family favorites and trying some Southern BBQ recipes. My testers were Amber Robinson, Matt Hardy, Jason and Erica Gardner, Stephanie Zundel, Russ Hill and Erin Mashidas. My roommate Amber Robinson helped take pictures for me, thanks Amber!

Virgin Mint Juleps (3 Stars)

Perfectly Southern, the Julep is traditional, but the primary ingredient is brandy. Taking an alcoholic drink and making it virgin often proves difficult, especially when I don’t know what the alcholic drink tastes like. Over all a julep is a robust mint lemonade. Jason felt this drink could be a lot of fun to play with and I agree. It was a little too acidic, needed more sweetener and probably more mint. Every time I serve a drink with mint or fruit, a few testers are turned off because they can’t gulp down the drink…I’m finally adding some cocktail straws to my pantry. These are the measurements I used if you want to play with it.

9 lemons, 1.5 cups sugar, 1.5 cups water, 16 sprigs mint, dash of mint bitters, couple T. of vanilla and 3 cups apple juice in place of the bourbon.

Arugula & Peach Salad with Creamy Chive Vinaigrette (5 Stars)

This is the recipe of the evening that was just a tad short of being a 5 star and it was all because of the dressing. The play of the bitter arugula against the sweet peaches was fabulous. The dressing needed more, a little sweetness maybe and more cream. So I tried some changes the following day and found these changes to be quite favorable and I would suggest now a 5 Star.

1.5 T. lemon juice, 4 T. olive oil, 3 T heavy cream, 1.5 T. sugar, salt and pepper, 1/3 cup chives.

Pork BBQ Sandwiches (4 Stars)

Pulled pork is a difficult task…how do you really compare that it is so much better than any other pulled pork that you’ve had before? Overall this was a win, but it didn’t make enough sauce. I cooked the pork in the slow cooker to keep the apartment cooler for the dinner guests and it was moist and full of flavor. I wanted a strong Carolina style pork and guests felt that the vinegar BBQ flavor of the south was right on. I also did a dry rub (salt, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt and onion powder) on the pork and cooked it in the juices of the sauce. Next time I will double what it calls for in sauce and leave out half to serve with the sandwiches. I served the shredded pork with Amy’s Bread buns, which were rated as 2nd best in the city by New York Magazine.

Baked Mac & Cheese (4 Stars)

The blend of cheeses was great (gruyere, cheddar, monterrey Jack). I cut the breadcrumbs in half on this Alice Waters recipe since I don’t like breadcrumbs, but it was still too much and dried it out a little. Most of the guests would have preferred a bubbly cheese crust. The consistency was perfect but next time I’d like to add even a half portion more of the white cream sauce (butter, flour, milk and cheeses). I added a little bit (2 t.) of white truffle oil to the cream sauce and it didn’t come through quite enough. I think a tablespoon would give that secret flavor and really enhance the cheese and cream.

Two Beans Salad (3 Stars)

I really liked the idea of this salad (green beans and cannellini beans) but it was bland. Everything is better with bacon and adding bacon to this dish might make it a win, especially if using some bacon greases to caramelize the onions rather than having them raw. I forgot to add shaved parmesan before serving, but I tried it the next day with the parmesan and it still needed another layer.

1 pound green beans, 1 can cannellini beans, ½ cup minced red onion, 3 T. white-wine vinegar, 1 T. olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Cole Slaw (throw)

I should have found another recipe as I was doubtful of this one from the beginning but it was a Martha Stewart recipe and I thought it was worth giving a try. The recipe added ketchup to make it more of a red cole slaw and guests were pretty split on that. It also needed to be sweeter. In an effort to save time I shredded the cabbage in my food processor and it resulted in a little too finely shredded slaw. So maybe next time I can still save time by shredding half in the processor and then chopping half.

Peach Cobbler (4 Stars)

While the presentation on this was a 5 star (guests said) it did give me some challenges. It was too runny and not sweet enough. The recipe didn’t call for anything to congeal the sauce as the juices releases during baking. The crust was pretty good but needed a little more sugar. The beauty of this recipe was a crusty cobbler and the vanilla sugar (4 cups sugar and 2 whole vanilla beans – put it in a quart jar).

This needed 1-2 T. of tapicoa beads or gelatin as a thickening agent. The filling was yummy with 7 nectarines and 7 peaches with 4 T. Vanilla Sugar and 2 T. unsalted butter.

One Comment (Leave a Reply)

  1. Mary (September 26, 2011)

    I love making pulled pork but no one here really loves eating it but me. I love a more vinegary sauce. It is a bit laborious but so yummy. You could have had some chow chow and pintos too. Mmmm. I never did make that chow chow this summer.

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