Paris Cookbook Fair: Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce Saturday, Feb 23 2013 

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Paris Cookbook Fair 2013

Bonjour! Sending out a quick post from the Paris Cookbook Fair, Festival du Livre Culinaire from Le Carosel du Louvre. There are so many amazing, beautiful books from all over the world – France, the UK, South America, Israel, New Zealand — all over! I was thrilled to be asked to do a cooking demonstration. Of course, I knew I wanted to share my style of cooking, a blend of French and Southern — but with an extra special nod towards my Southern roots. So, I put it out on Twitter to ask folks what I should make…..

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Fried Chicken at the Louvre?

You will laugh at the reply from the Twitterverse!

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So, I didn’t. The last thing I want is an international incident over Fried Chicken. Although I am convinced that if the Mona Lisa could taste my fried chicken she’d have a full blown grin instead of her quirky little smile.

Southern Living saw the conversation and decided they had to write about it on their Daily South blog — “No, Virginia, You Can’t Fry in the Louvre.” Funny, right!?

Instead, I chose to make Pulled Pork Tenderloin with Georgia BBQ Sauce paired with Heirloom Stoneground Grits and Greens topped with Cole Slaw in a Mustard Vinaigrette. I actually brought My Southern Pantry® grits from home. I’m delighted to say that everyone loved it. It was a real blast.

I’m off to go see some beautiful food photography from the award-winning, international photographer Nancy Bundt. She’s absolutely phenomenal. I love her work. Later tonight, two people very important to me, Lisa Ekus and Anne Willan are receiving Gourmand Awards. More soon!

Bon Appétit Y’all!

VA

 

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Pulled Pork Tenderloin with Georgia Barbecue Sauce
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 small very finely chopped onion
2 1/2 cups ketchup
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cupDijon mustard
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and simmer until soft and melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until flavors have smoothed and mellowed, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, to prepare the pork, trim off the fat and silver skin: insert the tip of a sharp boning knife just under the silver skin about 1/2 inch from the edge of the meat where the silver skin begins. Keep the knife closer to the membrane than the meat, and pulling up slightly with the knife, slide the knife along the length of the meat to remove a strip of the membrane. Repeat until no silver skin remains. Season the pork with salt and pepper.

To sear the pork, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sear the tenderloin until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and place lengthwise on the prepared baking sheet. Top with about 1 cup of the barbecue sauce and roll to fully coat. Fold the foil over the top of the meat and pinch the ends of the foil to seal well. Bake until very tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer the pork to a large bowl. Discard the cooking juices remaining in the foil. Using 2 forks, shred the pork tenderloin into strips. Add barbecue sauce to taste, about 1 cup. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve on the split buns with the remaining 1/4 cup of sauce on the side.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

Copyright © 2013 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

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It’s Summertime and the Living is Easy…. Low and Slow Beef BBQ Friday, Jul 1 2011 

Whew. Last week’s blog post about the F-word with 11 lightened summer recipes set off a maelstrom of activity in the blogosphere and in my brain. The comments and emails I received were kind, powerful, and impressive, but a lot to think about and manage.

So, this week? We’re talking about summertime. Let’s make the living easy. E-Z. Simple. Low and slow. Borderline lazy. Let’s give the personal baring of the soul a rest for a little bit.

I’ve got some projects planned for summer, of course. I’m going to play around with the video camera, write a few articles, work on selling my TV concept, Starting from Scratch. We’re also planning to shoot another episode in the next few months. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m also looking forward to some fishing.

Let us not forget that under the red Chanel lipstick and fancy French cooking that I am borderline redneck. I like baseball, fishing, SEC Football, and trucks. I’m just not illiterate or racist.

Oh, and BBQ. I love me some BBQ. And, it is afterall, high BBQ season.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Austin for the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference. It was a great conference, lots of good information, and on a personal level it was really important, as well. (BTW: Here’s an interesting piece by Tastestopping about IACP and bloggers I thought interesting and relevant.)

It was hot as blue blazes in Austin. I’ve heard they’ve had several weeks of triple digits. Whew. My friend Erica says the heat comes up through the shoes into your body like a rotisserie.

Rotisserie or not, one thing that is abundantly clear is that in Texas, BBQ means beef.

We enjoyed some amazing food from Lou Lambert. His book, Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook is coming out this fall. I can’t wait to try some of the recipes.

But, right now? I’m all about easy. Kicking back and letting some of life’s drama of the past few weeks pass me by.

Hope you enjoy my selection of BBQ favorites for your 4th of July. Be safe.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
VA

SMITTY’S BBQ BEEF BRISKET
SERVES 8

The photo above is the wood pile at Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Texas. This was home to some of the best BBQ I ever put in my mouth. For more on Smitty’s check out the recent Saveur Magazine article, “Zen and the Art of BBQ” by Robb Walsh.

3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons chile powder (plain powdered chile, not the one with all the other spices, too)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 10 pound beef brisket
1 cup apple juice or beer

In a medium bowl combine the salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Rub brisket on both sides with the spice mixture. Let sit a room temperature for 1 hour.

Prepare your grill using apple wood chunks or chips. Place brisket, fat side up, on the grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-250° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature), cook until a thermometer inserted in meat reads 160°, about 6 hours.

Remove the brisket from grill, place on two heavy-duty sheets of aluminum foil. Pour in juice or beer; fold up edges to seal. Return to grill grate. Cook until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion reads 190°, about 2 hours.


TEXAS CAMPFIRE BEANS

Serves 6 to 8

1 pound pinto beans, washed and picked over for stones
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces OR 1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
8 cups homemade chicken stock or reduced fat low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the pinto beans in a large bowl and add water to cover. Soak overnight. Or, place the beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the beans come to a boil, remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour. Before cooking, discard any floating beans and drain.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it starts to crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Or, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to barely a simmer and cook until the flavors are well-blended, about 20 minutes.

Drain and add the beans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to low. Simmer, covered, until the beans are tender, about 3 hours. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

HEART HEALTHY COLE SLAW
Serves 6

This slaw is easy, delicious and very good. I am actually a mayonnaise person. I love a traditional slaw with carrots and green cabbage, but this one is really good, too. And, since there’s no mayonnaise it can sit out at room temperature.

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and finely chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, very finely chopped
1 tablespoons cane sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Place the cabbage, bell pepper, and onion in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the oil, vinegar, dry mustard, and celery seed. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 1 minute. Pour the hot dressing over the cabbage and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. To serve, remove from the refrigerator and taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve cold or room temperature.

AUNT JULIA’S CHOCOLATE PIE
Makes one 9-inch pie

This is hands-down my favorite dessert. Mama makes it almost every time I come home to visit. There’s nothing really low and slow about it, it’s just my FAVORITE comfort food dessert in the world. EVER. So, it made sense to include it here.

1 9-inch Pie Crust, fully baked
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
31/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

To prepare the pie filling, in a saucepan, combine the 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of the milk. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, the flour, and cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. (Mama uses a shaker and shakes the mixture until it is well combined and frothy.) Set aside.

Heat the saucepan with the milk-sugar mixture over medium-high heat until simmering. Slowly add the milk-flour mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Add the egg yolks, whisking constantly, until it returns to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, immediately add the vanilla and remove it from the heat.

Pour the mixture into the baked pie crust. Set aside.

To make the meringue topping, place the egg whites in a non-reactive bowl with a pinch of salt. Add the cream of tartar and, using a hand-held mixer, whisk on high speed until foamy. Sift over the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time and whisk until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted.

To finish the pie, spoon the meringue over the pie, making sure it touches the edges of the pie crust. Bake until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Move to a rack to cool completely and set, then serve.

Spicy (or Maybe Not So Much?) Pork Shoulder Results Sunday, Jul 11 2010 

Last weekend, just before the holiday, I gave a call out on Facebook, Twitter, and in this blog asking for folks to participate in a recipe test for Spicy Pulled Pork Shoulder.

WOW. I was overwhelmed with the response! So many people responded. Thank you so much! I was blown away.

The results were overwhelmingly positive. Lots of grade A, grade B+ were bestowed. I don’t think we had the first C.

Of course, the funny thing about asking so many people to do this at once were the difference in comments. One tester commented, “It was delicious, but not spicy at all” and suggested I rename it “Savory Pork Shoulder” and to the opposite end of the spectrum was a very apologetic, “I really thought it was really too spicy.”

Part of my job has always been recipe testing. My first “job” as apprentice involved recipe testing for Nathalie Dupree . I’ve written about learning how to recipe test from Anne Willan and as TV Test Kitchen Director for Martha Stewart I was ultimately responsible for all the food on the show, and believe you me I made sure those recipes worked before Martha made them on set.

Recipes aren’t meant to be a ball and chain, but when actually testing a recipe to write it so the whole wide world can follow it and duplicate it without difficulty, instructions must be followed to the letter, that’s my approach and how I learned to do it over the years. When I test recipes for articles and books, I test and test eliminating variables and try to be as detailed as possible so instructions are clear. If I hire people to help me and assist me, that’s the attention to detail I expect.

My name is on the cover of that book.

Sometimes people try a recipe from book and the recipe fails. The cook thinks he or she has done something wrong, when the truth of the matter is the less-than-honest writer hadn’t really tested the recipe. That’s the wildcard of using recipes off the internet. The internet is only as good as the source.

There’s always going to be some differences in recipe testing. Pots differ, BTUs for stovetop power differ, some ovens aren’t properly calibrated. My medium tomato might be a little larger than your medium tomato, but for the most part a professional recipe tester tries to eliminate those nuances.

Some folks took the time to fill out the test sheet, including Katherine, Scott, Jane, and Heather. Wow! I was so impressed by the level of detail. Really cool experiment, you know. It was pretty much out of my control, which, um, sometimes, um, I struggle with.

Well, a good many of the “tests” that came in didn’t actually follow the recipe.

Gulp.

But, you know what? I loved it! Woo-hoo! Freedom!!

I got SO many great ideas and garnered so much great information by NOT following the recipe the way it was written! By doing exactly what I DON’T do!

One tester ran out of Worcestershire sauce and used Picka Pepper, instead. Many, many people tried it on a low and slow grill or Big Green Egg, a cooking method I have still yet to try. Someone from South Georgia used a fresh ham (from the back leg) instead of a shoulder (from the front leg). We had beer used instead of bourbon, muscavado sugar instead of dark brown, and ketchup instead of whole tomatoes. I got a note from Lance who’s testing it today in the UK, I can’t wait to see what he says!

Some folks, like Otis from Columbus, clearly thought it needed more bourbon. Or maybe he needed more bourbon… that wasn’t clear in his notes… well, maybe there’s my answer.

At the end of the day, I learned a lot. This was my first foray into rampant, unbridled, lawless recipe testing. It was enough to make me blush.

I can be a bit hemmed up with things sometimes, so it was good for me to stretch my boundaries and try something new, too.

Of course, I’m taking all those comments, suggestions, observations and writing out another recipe and testing it again.

I just can’t help myself.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
VA

PS Here is the original Spicy Pulled Pork Shoulder that was posted last weekend, just in case anyone wants to give it a try!

Scratch that Summer Itch: BBQ for Memorial Day Friday, May 28 2010 

I am absolutely itching for summer to start.

Ready for it.
Want it.

It’s buzzing in my brain like a hungry mosquito zeroing in for a feast on a naked expanse of skin.

Warm weather, sunshine, and swimming.
Porches, fishing, and laying on the grass by the river.

In celebration, I’ve made some changes to my website and added a few new pieces to virginiawillis.com. I’ve added a new homepage for the summer. While you are there check out my events and and I hope you enjoy my little homage to blackberries and a little something I wrote for Taste of the South about growing up picking them with my grandfather, Dede.

Picking Swiss chard - you didn't think I was going to share naked expanse of skin, did you?

And, like always, it’s the food. I love summer food. Okra. I’ve had a hankering for okra for a few weeks already! Lady peas and butterbeans. Tomatoes. Summer Squash. Corn. Ah, fresh sweet corn.

Garrison Keillor is rumored to have said, “Sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn.”

Ok, well, consider the source. I mean, I think he’s genius and dearly love Prairie Home Companion, but, um… Well, then you know, fresh sweet corn is really good. Simple. Uncomplicated. Satisfying.

I’ll let you ponder that for a bit…..

Ok, getting back on track, summer does mean grilling.

I love to grill throughout the year, but in the summer it’s just practical to keep the heat out of the kitchen. Burgers and brats are brilliant, steaks and seafood are stupendous, but perhaps my absolute fave? The cheap and cheerful pedestrian chicken.

Chicken can be absolutely sublime on the grill. Smoky and charred, yet tender and juicy.

It can also be drier than chalk and just about as tasty, too. The trick is if you pierce the meat with the tip of a knife and the juices run clear, it’s done. If the juices run pink? It’s underdone. If there are no juices? …… Ahem.

One technique that can help prevent dry, tasteless chicken is brining. Brining poultry will produces moist and tender results. Muscle fibers absorb liquid during the brining period. Some of this liquid is lost during cooking, but since the meat is juicier at the start of cooking, it ends up juicier in the end. I like to think of this as a cup that is filled “over the rim.”

Moisture loss is inevitable when you cook any type of muscle fiber. The heat causes the coiled proteins in the fibers to unwind and then join together with one another, resulting in shrinkage and moisture loss. Meat loses about 30 percent of its weight during cooking, but with brining and the cup is “filled over the rim” it reduces the moisture loss during cooking to as little as 15 percent.

Here’s a recipe to start your summer. Grilled Chicken with Mama’s BBQ Sauce. The trick is to cook the chicken almost all the way through before you start to brush it with the sauce, otherwise the sauce will burn.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
VA

Grilled Chicken with Mama’s BBQ Sauce
Serves 4 to 6

In the heat of the summer, there’s nothing better for keeping the heat out of the kitchen than firing up the grill. Dede would make his barbecued chicken on the Fourth of July, using a potent vinegar bath on grilled chicken that produced a pungent, meaty odor, sending out billowing clouds of steam and smoke as the chicken cooked on the grill. 

1 gallon cold water
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 whole chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for the grill
Mama’s Barbecue Sauce, warmed

Combine the water, salt, and brown sugar in a large plastic container and stir to dissolve. Add the chicken; cover and refrigerate to marinate for 4 to 6 hours.

Prepare a charcoal fire using about 6 pounds of charcoal and burn until the coals are completely covered with a thin coating of light gray ash, 20 to 30 minutes. Spread the coals evenly over the grill bottom, position the grill rack above the coals, and heat until medium-hot (when you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill surface for no longer than 3 or 4 seconds). Or, for a gas grill, turn on all burners to High, close the lid, and heat until very hot, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the marinade and rinse under cool running water. Pat dry with paper towels, season with pepper, and set aside.

Season the chicken with pepper. Apply some oil to the grill grate. Place the chicken on the grill, leaving plenty of space between each piece. Grill until seared, about 1 to 2 minutes per side for legs and thighs, and 3 or so minutes for breasts. Move the chicken to medium-low heat or reduce the heat to medium; continue to grill, turning occasionally, until the juices run clear when pierced, 12 to 18 minutes.

During the last 5 to 7 minutes of cooking, brush the chicken with Mama’s BBQ Sauce.

Remove the pieces from the grill as they cook and transfer to a warm platter. Give them a final brush of sauce for flavor and serve immediately with additional sauce on the side.

Mama’s Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 6 1/2 cups

There has seldom been a time in my life when a mason jar of this sauce wasn’t in a corner of my mother or grandmother’s refrigerator. The truth of the matter is, once you have had homemade you will go off the store-bought kind for good.

Make a batch, then separate out a cup or so for brushing on the chicken. Don’t dip your brush in the big pot then dab on half-cooked chicken to serve that same sauce on the side. Eew. That’s just bad food safety and asking for a tummy-ache.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, very finely chopped
2 1/2 cups ketchup
2 cups apple cider or distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
Coarse salt

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat; add the onions and simmer until soft and melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, and pepper.

Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer until the flavors have smoothed and mellowed, at least 10 and up to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last for months.

Memorial Day & Pork Nirvana: Coca Cola Glazed Baby Back Ribs Thursday, May 21 2009 

Pork Nirvana: Coca Cola Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Pork Nirvana: Coca Cola Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Memorial Day is the start of grilling season. I want to share with you an absolutely unbelievable rib recipe. I taught these all over last summer and the combination of sweet and heat is soooooooo positively off-the-charts good.

I want to give a shout out to the National Pork Board for contributing the pork for my event for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts a week or so ago. We raised 21K + which equals 100,000 meals! We served these ribs and everyone loved them. I know you will, too.

I made some changes to my website. There are a passle of new recipes to try out. Please click on the link to check things out.
www.virginiawilllis.com

Here’s to a safe and happy weekend. Wear your seatbelt and if you are on the water, your life jacket. Seriously.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
VA

Coca-Cola–Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Makes about 20 pieces

Coca-Cola is to Atlanta as Guinness is to Dublin. Pork has a natural affinity for sweet, rich caramel flavors. These “nouveau” Southern ribs are by no means traditional, but they are lip-smacking good.

Scotch bonnet peppers are intensely hot, but their fire is tempered by the sweetness of the sugar and Coke. To tone down the heat, substitute jalapeños instead.

1 cup Coca-Cola Classic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
11/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Scotch bonnet chiles, chopped
2 racks baby back ribs (3 pounds total)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the glaze, in a small saucepan, bring the Coca-Cola, vinegar, brown sugar, and chiles to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and keep the sauce warm while the ribs cook.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Liberally season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper. Place the ribs on a broiler pan and bake for 30 minutes, glazing the ribs occasionally with the Coca-Cola mixture. Turn the ribs over and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes, glazing occasionally, or until the ribs are tender and the meat is starting to pull away from the bone.

Or, if grilling, simply treat the oven as a grill. Cook the ribs at a moderate heat, 325°F and bake with the grill covered for 30 minutes, glazing the ribs occasionally with the Coca-Cola mixture. Turn the ribs over and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes, glazing occasionally, or until the ribs are tender and the meat is starting to pull away from the bone.

When the ribs are cooked through, set the oven to broil or place on the hot side of the grill or increase a gas grill to high. Liberally spoon half of the remaining glaze over the ribs and broil until glazed a deep mahogany brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn over; repeat with the remaining glaze, an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve immediately with lots of napkins.

Photo credit: Jeanine Dargis. Adapted from Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press.

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