13 June 2015

Pure Pork Awesomeness

Kevin Gillespie is the brother, son, guy-next-door(who owns a really big grill) that I have always envisioned.  I loved him the first time I saw him on TV and have followed his career since then.  Let's just get it out of the way: most of the really talented, on-TV, own-my-own-restaurant(s), James Beard Blah-Blah-Blah appear to be a-holes! (Hey, you know it's true and you know which one you want to slap!) Lord knows, Kevin Gillespie's momma and grandma raised him right!  And who doesn't love a guy who puts a Ray Stevens epigraph in his cookbook?

Pure Pork Awesomeness is a love letter to the pig. It is also a love letter to the world.  Lest one think for a moment that Pure Pork Awesomeness is simply a barbecue book, it is not.  It is exactly what the title conveys, a look at the pure awesomeness of pork that is not relegated simply to the South, nor to America, but to the world, where pork is a staple in many languages. 

Don't worry, Granny's Ham and Navy Bean Soup is in there along side Brunswick Stew, and Deep Fried Baby-Back Ribs.  You will also find Pork Pho, Sichuan-Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly, Lemon-Ricotta Tortellini in Ham Broth, Zigeunerschnitzel, even tacos.

Tacos al Pastor

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes, about 2 cups, or 1 (20-oz.) can unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained 
1 medium Vidalia onion, cut into rough chunks  
10 cloves garlic, peeled 
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder  
1 tablespoons cumin seeds 
1 tablespoons dried oregano  
1 tablespoons kosher salt 
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes  
1 pound lean pork shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (see Worth Knowing)
3 teaspoon grapeseed oil or canola oil  
8 fresh corn tortillas 
1/2 cup sour cream  
1 lime 
1 bunch cilantro  

Reserve 1/2 cup pineapple chunks and onion and refrigerate for later use. Combine the remaining pineapple, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes in a blender and blend to a paste. Place the meat and marinade in a gallon-size zip-top bag, squeeze out excess air, and zip closed. Refrigerate overnight.

Strain the pork and discard the marinade.

Heat a sauté pan over high heat. Add just enough of the oil to the pan for a thin coating and heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Working in batches, add the tortillas in a single layer and heat just until starting to char, about 1 minute per side, then flip and cook for another minute. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add just enough of the oil to cover the pan, swirl to coat, and heat until smoking. Add the pork and reserved pineapple and cook for 1 minute, or until browned. Shake the pan to flip the meat and cook until the pork is cooked through and the pan juices have cooked dry, about 7 minutes, shaking the pan frequently.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream with the juice of 1/2 lime and whisk until smooth. Cut the remaining 1/2 lime into 4 wedges.

 Coarsely chop 1/2 cup cilantro leaves. Reserve 4 sprigs.

Serve the tortillas topped with the meat and pineapple mixture, reserved onion, chopped cilantro, a drizzle of the lime sour cream, a lime wedge, and whole sprig of cilantro.

Worth Knowing
Look for a lean shoulder roast for this recipe. It will be a piece of a boneless Boston butt. Get the smallest and leanest roast you can find, which will probably be 2 to 3 pounds. If you get a piece with excess fat, just trim it away before cutting the meat into chunks. 

Not only do we love this cookbook, but we were huge fans of his first book, Fire In My Belly.  If Kevin Gillespie were our father, we would give him a copy of both books for Father's Day.  Of course, that would be really stupid as he wrote them, but we would give him a big, ol' pork butt and hope that he invited us over! Really, nothing says "I Love You" more than a pork butt and Father's Day is approaching.

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