Pulled Pork and Pasta, Christmas Craziness Round One

This year I simply could not get into holiday mode. In fact, I did not even trim the tree until last week. Once the tree was trimmed and lit, my vision of sugarplums arrived… along with the realization that there was less than two weeks until Christmas. Oh, wow the Christmas craziness spirit has begun! In addition, my brother was planning a visit from South Carolina. We discussed the details two days prior to his arrival and as Christmas craziness would have it, turns out he would have just one day to spend here.

In no way did I plan to have back-to-back Christmas meals. However, with my crazy brother driving 500 miles (one-way) for a one-day visit, I got busy. This would be Christmas for my siblings, nieces and nephews, and father as well as my brother and his daughter's family. Everyone in the family had other holiday obligations during the day on Saturday except for me. Christmas meal, round one.

Pulled Pork and Pasta, two one-dish entrees that feed a crowd were perfect. I called my sister and brother, they agreed perfect menu! Out came the big slow cooker and my laptop. I wanted to serve a Carolina style pulled pork, not with a vinegar base but suitable for barbeque sauce to be served on the side. Of course, I searched my foodie folder in Google reader for pulled pork recipes. After reading four or five scrumptious recipes, I came up with this one.

Pulled Pork

1 small onion sliced thin
1 granny smith apple peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

8.5lb pork shoulder butt
1 -2 teaspoons minced garlic gloves
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Prepare onions and apples and line the bottom of the slow cooker. Combine the chicken broth, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce; blend until sugar is dissolved then pour over onion/apple layer. In a small bowl, combine seasonings for the rub. Rub the minced garlic into the many crevices of the shoulder roast. Next, take the bowl of seasoning and rub all over the roast, pushing it into the cracks and crevices. Place roast in slow cooker. Slow and gentle, pour the cider vinegar over the roast. Cover and cook on low for 12 – 14 hours. At this point, carefully turn roast. Being aware of the amount of heat loss, I turned the cooker heat setting up to 3. Cook for 2 – 3 more hours. Remove the roast, take out the bone, and shred the pork. Return to slow cooker, tossing several times to combine with juices and onions. Cook on low for one hour. Serve with hard rolls and barbeque sauce.

This pulled pork was really tender and juicy. The stock combination was very flavorful. The flavors from the rub on the other hand were hardly detectable. The smoky flavor of the paprika was non-existent. I planned to include ground chipotle pepper in the rub however, the guest list included children. This was very disappointing, well at least for me. While everyone ate seconds and complimented the flavor, it was not what I expected. The rub definitely needed to be doubled, maybe even marinated before hand. The family enjoyed it, making the effort worthwhile and somewhat successful. You can bet I will be preparing this pulled pork again. Oh man, I can taste that recipe in my head, now I have to master it, right?

The pasta, Ronzoni brand Garden Delights, was your typical Bolognese sauce, or as some call it “ragu” turned out nicely. I never measure ingredients when making this sauce. It is a see, taste, and smell preparation method.

The ingredients include lean ground beef, onions, garlic, basil, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. As a rule, I cook the meat until pink, add the veggies, and cook until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper then add the paste, crushed tomatoes, and finally the sauce, stirring after each addition. To that add the basil, a bit of fennel seed, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir well, cover, and cook for about an hour on low, stirring occasionally. At one hour, check thickness and seasoning. Add chicken broth if thinning is needed, basil, salt, and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for at least 5 hours, again stirring occasionally. Serve over your favorite pasta topped with grated Romano cheese.

Dessert included Christmas sugar cookies, candy canes, and chocolate covered pretzels. Afterwards, the kids enjoyed hot coco with marshmallows while the adults sipped Lambrusco. Everyone seemed to have a delightful time. We ate, we drank, and we reminisced. I really miss my brother and sister so you know I had a blast! However, I believe that of everyone there my Dad had the best time of all.

Christmas craziness round two, Christmas Eve and the Seven Fishes Tradition!

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and  Holiday!


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