Friday, June 3, 2011

Birthday BBQ

Jeremy and I both LOVE BBQ. We had a little family birthday party for Jeremy, and I thought it was the perfect time of year for a BBQ menu. I originally wanted to make a home made bbq sauce and follow Tyler Florence's recipe for BBQ pulled pork, but once the day got here, I figured I should go for easy as well as tried and true. I had no idea what his BBQ sauce would taste like, so last minute I decided to just use our favorite "Sweet Baby' Rays Original Sauce"

BBQ Pulled pork sandwiches:
7 pounds of Pork shoulder (bone out) - [fed 17 people]
1 large bottle of Sweet Baby Ray'z Original Barbecue sauce
Potato roll buns (I like these because they are soft and a little bit sweet, and they are smaller size than large hamburger buns. Perfect size for kids, and for adults too with sides of potato salad and beans).

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Salt and pepper the pig on both sides. Put the pork in a roasting pan (fat side up) and roast it for about 6 - 6.5 hours. An instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the pork should register 170 degrees F, but basically, what you want to do is to roast it until it's falling apart. (We pulled it out a couple times and tried to start pulling meat apart with 2 forks, until it actually was "pulling apart" rather easily.)

While the pork is still warm, you want to "pull" the meat: Grab 2 forks. Using 1 to steady the meat, use the other to "pull" shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a bowl and pour the sauce over. Stir it all up well so that the pork is coated with the sauce.

To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of each hamburger bun. Bon appetit!

Baked Beans (a mixture of my friend Kelly McDonald and Pioneer Woman)
3 Large cans (28 oz) pork and beans (I like "Bush's" brand) and drain a little of the liquid
1 med (sweet) onion chopped
1 lb cooked bacon cut up in pieces
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 - 3/4 cup brown sugar
a splash of cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

Cook Bacon. Then stir together all ingredients, place in baking dish, cover with foil and bake for a long time maybe 1 1/2 -  2 hours on 300 degrees.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad.
I have this recipe posted here, and I doubled it for the amount of people we had over.

Baja Shrimp Tacos

I did a quick search for "shrimp taco" and the first hit I checked out was a short video of Gwyneth Paltrow making baja style shrimp tacos. She made it look pretty easy, considering you have to make beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and still grill the shrimp. I took it just a step further, since Jeremy requested a "sauce" to go with the tacos. I pulled out my Our Best Bites cookbook and made "creamy lime-cilantro dressing", which is her knock off from Cafe Rio. The whole combination was really tastey. Jeremy smeared beans on his taco before layering everything else, and he really like it.

Baja Style Shrimp Tacos (Servings 4)
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
the juice of one lime
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 dozen corn tortillas
pico de gallo (see recipe below)
guacamole (recipe below)
lime wedges for serving
Creamy lime-cilantro sauce (see recipe below)
crumbled cotija or feta cheese or monterrey jack cheese (optional)

1. Preheat your grill (or frying pan in my case) over high heat.
2. Toss the shrimp together with the olive oil, lime juice and salt.
3. Grill until cooked through, about 2 minutes a side.
4. To serve, heat the tortillas in in the leftover frying pan right before ready to serve.  (Wrap them in a tea towel to keep warm.
5. Pile a few shrimp on top of each tortilla and serve with a bit of pico de gallo, fresh lime juice, guacamole, some cilantro lime sauce and a little of the cheese if you’d like.

Pico de Gallo
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
coarse salt
squeeze of lime
as many finely chopped serrano or red jalapeƱos as you’d like (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, cilantro and onion together in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and lime.

A lesson in simplicity—the best guacamole is a showcase for ripe avocados. A little salt, lime and cilantro go a long way. Again this serves four and is ready in 10 minutes!

2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons minced white onion
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 lime
coarse salt

Cut each avocado in half. Scoop the avocado into a mixing bowl and mash gently with a fork—you don’t want it to be completely smooth. Stir in the onion and cilantro. Cut the lime in half and squeeze in enough juice to taste. Season the guacamole with salt, and either serve immediately or stick the pits in to keep it from browning (remove the pits before serving).

Creamy lime-cilantro sauce (curtesy of OBB)
1 pack (1oz) Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1C mayo
1/2 C milk
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 C green salsa ( I used her recommended La Costena brand)

Place milk, mayo, and ranch mix in a blender. Juice the lime in there too, you should get about 2T juice. Toss in the garlic, cilantro and green salsa. Blend 'er up. Make it several hours ahead of time to allow it to thicken.

Black Beans
By adding a few aromatics to a can of black beans, you get that Mexican restaurant flavor without hours of soaking and cooking. Serves 4 as a side dish and will be done in 20 minutes.

1 can of black beans
4 cilantro stems
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt

Combine everything together in a small pot and simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes (I do this while I’m preparing the rest of the meal).
Be sure to simmer the beans long enough so that they’re not watery.