What I Cooked Last Night

Sometimes I make up these crazy meals that turn out to be wonderful. When that happens, i think it is worth sharing. Occasionally something turns out to be a total disaster, then it is the story, rather than the recipe that is worth sharing. My kitchen creativity is best used on leftovers. I can work tasty magic with leftovers. Be sure to read the first post, "About My Cooking Style" which will help in following recipes when given, or to recreate meals from my prose.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Last night, we gathered friends and their children over for supper. Although Monday night is not usually a good night for parties, being independence Eve, we thought we could fill the house. Indeed. Seventeen adults and ten children joined us for a casual night at home. The featured entree was one of my own invention, that I had never made before. In an act of bravery (stupidity?) I made a dish that had heretofore only existed in my imagination. I invented it on Wednesday morning as I read the weekly grocery store ads to determine what I could afford to serve at the party. Boston Butt (pork shoulder) was on sale for $1.00 a pound so that was the winner. I didn't want to serve barbecued pork though, it was just too ordinary. Besides, it really tastes better cooked in a smoky pit rather than in a Crock-Pot. It could only be mediocre at best, so why bother?

So I started thinking about what I could do with a couple of great big chunks of pork to make them rich and flavorful without barbecue sauce. Garlic, or course, was the solution.

I picked up two large Boston Butts and trimmed as much fat off as possible. Then I hauled out two of my larger Crock-Pots and dropped a piece of pork in each one. Then each Pot got the following: one whole, peeled, head of garlic, bay leaves, tablespoon of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and Tabasco. After filling each one with water, I was done for the night and went to bed. At 3:00 am my husband and I were awakened by the tantalizing smelled of garlic and pork cooking together. We looked at each other with bleary eyes and said as one : "Mmmm. Pork." and went back to sleep.

At the dawn's early light, I removed the roasts, reserving some of the cooking liquid. I discarded the bay leaves and removed whatever fat I could find as I pulled and chopped the pork into smallish pieces. I wanted it to burst with flavor, without a sweet and sticky or hot and spicy sauce. I thought about what would go well with the seasonings already in place and had an idea. I mixed together some balsamic vinegar, some of the cooking liquid, Tabasco, Italian seasoning and granulated garlic and then added it to the pork, stirring all the while. I also mashed in the garlic that had cooked with the meat and added salt & pepper.

The meat was tender, flavorful and juicy. The vinegar did not make it taste like barbecue-- in NC and upper SC barbecue is made with an intense, spicy vinegar sauce -- it just gave it a burst of bright flavor with only the slightest, barely perceptible tang. The garlic was prominent, but was deep and rich after cooking slowly all night. The Tabasco and Italian seasoning added a tasty kick to the whole concoction.

The Garlicue was served on toasted buns with sliced red onions and provelone cheese, which proved to be the perfect accompaniments, as they played up the Italian leanings of the final product. . Some people added a thin spread of mayonnaise, others just a touch of spicy mustard. Most just had it plain. To go with it we had crudites with fresh basil dip, deviled eggs, spinach salad, grilled summer squashes and chips & salsa. Our guests brought some amazing desserts and the evening was a memorable one. I suppose that I could change the name to something such as "Italian Roasted Pork" or "Tuscan Barbecue" but they just don't have the uniqueness of "Garlicue". It just rolls off of the tongue.

Here is my best reconstruction of the recipe:


1 5-7 lb. Boston Butt (pork shoulder), trimmed of fat
1 head garlic, separated and peeled
2 bay leaves
2 tbs. Italian seasoning, divided
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tsp. Granulated garlic
Salt, pepper, Tabasco

Sear pork roast on all sides, then place in Crock-Pot. Add garlic, bay leaves, 1 tbs. Italian seasoning, one tablespoon each of salt, pepper and Tabasco. Add water to cover. Cook on low 8-10 hours or until meat is tender and falling off of the bone. Remove from cooker and set aside to cool.( Pull the bone out and give to the dog.)* Reserve one cup cooking liquid. Chop and shred the meat into bite sized pieces, removing any fat you come across. Find and discard both bay leaves. (Feed the fat to the dog.) Mash up garlic cloves into meat. Mix together remaining Italian seasoning, reserved cooking liquid and granulated garlic. Blend into meat. Add in Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on toasted buns with thinly sliced red onions and Provelone cheese.

Play with the seasonings. Want it tangier? Add more vinegar. More of a kick? Run some raw garlic through a press and mix it in. Hotter? Add Tabasco and pepper to your heart's content, and even some diced hot peppers if you like. Make it different by serving it with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella instead.

There were plenty of leftovers. So what are we having tonight? I am chopping up the grilled squash and red onions. I am throwing them in a mixing bowl with the pork, some diced tomatoes, roasted red peppers, some cheese and brown rice. After adding seasonings to taste and a beaten egg or two, I am stuffing the whole mess into bell peppers and baking at 350 for an hour. Another play on the leftovers is to chop up the onions (squash too, what the heck!) and add to diced cooked potatoes. Throw everything into a hot skillet with a little olive oil and make a lovely hash. I bet there could be a really tasty soup too, with kidney beans, diced tomatoes, pasta, sauted peppers & onions...

For sometime in the not to distant future, I am plotting out my recipe for Mexicue. I am already imagining the leftovers... Mmmm. Pork.

*If you don't have a dog, go to your local pet shelter and get one, for goodness sake. They are very handy in the kitchen. Ours learned the command "Lucy, clean up!" in about a day and I never have to pick up or wipe up spilled food anymore.


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