Sunday, July 21, 2013

Barbecue to die for

Ann and I hosted the summer couple's party of her book club this weekend in 2013. It's a fun group of folks, all around the same age as our kids all wet to school together.  With 20 people and wonderful weather, it only seemed appropriate to BBQ.  We had some great items, and I received many requests for recipes.  Some of these came out of tried and true cookbooks with family modifications scribbled in, and some brand new recipes were found online.  If you're planning a summer celebration, give these a try. You won't be disappointed! And yes, it did take two years for this to finally be posted, in 2015. I dated it back to 2013 to prevent timewarps.

The main component of any BBQ is the meat, and we had a couple choices.  This Bourbon-Mango Pulled Pork was delicious, and best of all, easy to make.  It's the epitome of a "set it and forget it" dish.  Nothing worse than hosting a party and spending the whole time in the kitchen!

Bourbon-Mango Pulled Pork

Recipe makes 10 servings

2 mangoes
1 4 lb. pork shoulder roast
2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp chipotle chile powder
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups water
2 tsp honey
1 (1.5 fl. oz.) jigger bourbon whiskey
2 (12 oz) bottles of barbecue sauce
  1. Peel the mangoes and remove the pits.  Place the pits into a slow cooker, then roughly chop the mango and set aside.  Place the pork shoulder into the slow cooker, and season with the black pepper, kosher salt, and 1 tsp. chipotle powder.  Pour in the balsamic vinegar and water.
  2. Cover, and cook on low 5-8 hours until the meat is very tender.  While the pork is cooking, puree the chopped mango in a blender until smooth, then combine with honey, 1 tsp. chipotle powder, and whiskey in a sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently until the mango has reduced and darkened slightly, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the barbecue sauce and remove from heat.
  3. Once cooked, drain the pork, discarding the cooking liquid and mango pits.  Shred pork with two forks.  Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir in the mango barbecue sauce.  Cover, and cook on high 1-2 hours until the pork absorbs the barbecue sauce.

We also served Black Jack Chicken Breasts.  Black Jack Barbecue Sauce gets its name from the jolt of strong coffee that is added to it.

Black Jack Chicken Breasts

2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp minced shallots
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
8 chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
2 cups Black Jack Barbecue Sauce

  1. To make the marinade: Combine the apple cider, cider vinegar, shallots, garlic, 1 tsp of the the salt, and 1/2 tsp of the pepper in a zip-close bag.  Add the chicken pieces and seal the bag, pressing out the air.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 and up to 12 hours.
  2. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high; leave one burner off.  If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash.  Spread the coals in an even bed on one side of the grill.  Clean the cooking grate.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting any excess drain off.  Season with the remaining salt and pepper.
  4. Grill the chicken over direct heat until marked on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.  Finish cooking the chicken over indirect heat, covered, turning every few minutes and brushing with the barbecue sauce, until the chicken is cooked through (165˚F) and the juices run clean, 10-15 minutes more.
  5. Serve on a heated platter or plates.

Black Jack Barbecue Sauce

Makes 4 cups

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, diced small
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tbsp minced jalapeño, or to taste
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the chili powder and jalapeño, and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes.  Use immediately, or let cool to room temperature before storing in a clean, covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

It wouldn't be a BBQ without baked beans, and these are a surefire hit.

Baked Beans for a Crowd

1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans
2 (15 oz.) cans butter beans
1 (16 oz.) can green lima beans
1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans
1 ½ jars B & M baked beans
8 slices bacon
4 medium onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 ½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
½ cup vinegar

Drain and rinse all beans, except B & M baked beans.  Fry bacon until crisp, and break into pieces, reserving drippings.  Sauté onions and pepper in bacon drippings.  Combine brown sugar, dry mustard, garlic powder, salt and vinegar.  Stir well.  Mix with beans, bacon, onion and green pepper mixture in large baking dish and bake at 350˚ for one hour.  OR cook in crock pot for approximately 3 hours.  Serves 16-20.
From the Los Gatos Eastfield Ming Quong cookbook from their retail store, The Butter Paddle.

And what would a party be without dessert?  This shortbread recipe from King Arthur Flour is one of my family's favorites, and is always a great choice for its simplicity and neverending possibilities.

Shortbread cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at cool room temperature
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (the recipe called for 1 teaspoon, but I have reduced it... also, use the best quality sea salt)
2 cups (8 1/2 oz).King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter, sugar and salt together with a mixer or by hand. Add the flour and blend until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal. To shape, roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, press with a cookie stamp (or the bottom of a glass, dipped in sugar, to prevent it from sticking) and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking. Or, form the dough into a long roll, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, cover with parchment paper, and freeze until very firm. [You can keep this in the freezer for weeks].
  2. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. If you've made a roll of dough, slice the roll into cookies no thinner than 1/4 inch and prick each cookie twice with a form (or stamp with a stamp). Bake on ungreased baking sheets for about 20 minutes (or a bit more). Watch the cookies carefully - when the bottoms are a light sand color, remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

The shortbread paired surprisingly well with our homemade limoncello! (and link to my other blog)

These were all hits at our party and helped make it a great time with great friends.