Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese (Piggy Mac??)

This is my last recipe using pulled pork. Holy cheese, it took a while but it’s finally all gone. My finale was a BBQ pulled pork mac and cheese covered in breadcrumbs and baked to warm, creamy perfection. I did get some complaints that upon reheating, the cheese sauce is somewhat reabsorbed into the macaroni, so I rectified it by making a fresh batch of cheese sauce to drizzle over my dish. Then, it was too cheesy for my eaters. You can’t win sometimes!!! Here’s how I did it.

Boil macaroni. That’s easy enough. Salt the water (1.5 tbsps) and pour in about 3/4 of a one pound box of macaroni. Don’t pour in the whole box. The ratio of sauce to noodles is never enough if you use a whole box. While you wait for the water to boil, you can work on the beautifullll cheese sauce. Al dente, people.

The key to a beautiful cheese sauce is a roux, which is a 50/50 flour/fat mixture. It imparts a particular richness and depth to the flavor of the cheese sauce. It’s also fun to make. Here is a list of ingredients you need followed by a step by step guide to the cheese sauce.

Ingredients:

*2 blocks of 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese which you can shred yourself, or buy it shredded already just make sure you have three cups worth.

*One cup of shredded muenster cheese.

*Hot sauce (I like Cholula) and mustard powder, flour, milk (warm 2 cups on the stovetop or microwave), butter, breadcrumbs, olive oil (for broiling).

Besides, all this, you’ll need about 3/4-1 cup of BBQ pulled pork (you can substitute another protein if you like) and a 9 inch baking pan, greased.

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Warm your two cups of milk on the stovetop or microwave while you start the roux.

For the roux, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a skillet.

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Then, put in two tablespoons of flour. Whisk it continuously until it is blended, creamy and bubbling ever so slightly. Take care not to burn it.

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Pour the warmed two cups of milk into the roux base and whisk continuously until thick. About two minutes. Now you can pour in your cheeses and slowly whisk them into your beautiful, melty cheese sauce.

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Toss in half a teaspoon of mustard powder and half a teaspoon of hot sauce while you’re whisking.

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Now your cheese sauce is ready. Your macaroni should be cooked al dente, strained, then mixed into the cheese sauce like so.

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This is a good time to preheat your oven to 350.

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Now it’s time to build the Piggy Mac. Spray your baking dish with cooking spray.

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Fill it almost to the top with cheesy mac. Follow that with a layer of pulled pork, spread evenly.

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Then sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top of the dish and drizzle olive oil on it. This will help the dish brown when you broil it at the end.

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Pop your prepared dish in the oven for 8-12 minutes just to warm the mixture through, then turn on the broil and watch your dish carefully so it doesn’t burn. Broil it until the top is brown and crisp, 3-5 minutes while watching intently.

Let it cool down for five, and voila! Piggy mac for the win. Enjoy with some cool peeps and a glass of wine. It held in my fridge for four days, I reheated portions as I needed.

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BBQ Pulled Pork Taquitos

You can see in my previous posts that I went sort of HAM and made too much pulled pork. So I froze a lot of it. It holds in the freezer for about three months. That’s a long time to not eat pulled pork. Luckily I had to feed a bunch of my friends so here’s a recipe I used to dress those babies up and fill some tummies:

Firstly, make a quick shopping trip to pick up these necessary ingredients to assemble your taquitos:

Cream Cheese, Paprika, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder (or minced garlic), Mustard Powder, Brown Sugar, Liquid Smoke, Red Pepper Flakes (optional), one small yellow onion, scallions, cilantro (can sub parsley), hot sauce (optional), sharp cheddar cheese (shredded), cooking spray, package of 6 inch tortillas (around ten), salt, pepper, and two cups pulled pork (of course you can substitute another form of protein), and condiments of your choice for serving. I did guacamole and sour cream, but anything can work- salsa, bbq, ranch. Work with what you’ve got ❤

Step one, take a bowl and toss in 3 ounces cream cheese (I love the whole foods store brand cream cheese because the package comes with measurement indicators much like a stick of butter-makes life easier), 1/4 cup chopped onion, 2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (can sub parsley) and your 3 scallions chopped.

Then toss in your dry mustard (love Colman’s) 1/2 tsp and your liquid smoke (1/2 tsp). Top off with a generous shake of salt and pep, and then pull out your cheese and meat. This is where the fun starts.

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You’re going to take your 2 cups of pulled pork and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and fold them into the previous mix of ingredients. I love folding. It’s one of the few times in my life I’m forced to be gentle and caring. Here’s a photo progression:

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Now you’ve got your taquito fillings prepped and ready to go. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 425 degrees, take out your tortillas and pop them into the microwave covered in a damp towel for 30 seconds. This help makes them pliable. Don’t make my mistake of skipping this step! If you do, you will have to shove a skewer or toothpicks through the taquitos to help them stay rolled. Damp microwaving makes them pliable and less likely to tear during rolling so try not to skip this crucial step.
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Start rolling..rolling…rolling…

Be sure to roll each tortilla tightly and place on cookie sheet with seam side down.

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Give the taquitos a quick cover of cooking spray (like PAM), sprinkle with salt and pop into the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

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And there it is! Crispy, hot packets of meat and cheese served up with dipping sauces of your choice. Watch ’em go fast!!

xxoo

Homemade BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

I just love BBQ food like ribs, pulled pork, brisket, etc., but living in a teeny tiny apartment in NYC usually narrows my options down to either raiding a cookout in a friend’s backyard or hitting up a restaurant and doling out some serious cash to get a taste of smoky BBQ goodness.

Here, I used some SET IT AND FORGET IT PULLED PORK–> recipe link: https://cookedup.org/2014/11/11/set-it-and-forget-it-pulled-pork/ to construct a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, much like you would get at a local BBQ joint.

Firstly, I mixed together some things I had in my fridge/pantry to make my own BBQ sauce. I’m not a fan of the store bought stuff, but if that’s the route you want to go it will definitely make your life easier. For those who want to make their own, there are tons of recipes to be found online. I chose the following http://www.simplyscratch.com/2011/09/homemade-barbecue-sauce-part-1.html from Simply Scratch in particular based on the ingredients I had available, favorable reviews and lack of chilling time that some other recipes require (i.e. having to let it sit for half an hour or so..).

The only thing I changed was liquid mustard for ground mustard, same measurement. It came out great! It is a very sweet, tangy BBQ sauce with a slight kick, so that’s just my kind of flavor.

I mixed the BBQ sauce into a portion of my pulled pork a small amount at a time so as not to overpower the BBQ flavor. Mix it to your liking and store the rest for later use.

Heat up your meat in small batches either stovetop or microwave. Depending on how many sandwiches you’re making and how much meat you like on them.

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I like it on toasted potato rolls topped off with cole slaw and dill pickle slices. How do you like yours?

SET IT AND FORGET IT PULLED PORK

This recipe is perfect for lazy cooks like me =). Start with pork shoulder or pork butt from your local grocery store. I purchased 5.5 pounds at Grand Central Market. Here it is covered in the dry rub mix, which is a combination of a few different recipes I looked up and some substitutions based on  whatever I had available in my pantry. I used to obsessively follow recipes, but then I realized things came out so much better just thrown together. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

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The dry rub is a mix of the following ingredients whisked together in a bowl and then hand rubbed on the pork generously:
paprika, kosher salt, black pepper (heavier on these)
garlic salt, tarragon and cayenne pepper (lighter on these)

I chopped one medium yellow onion and one medium carrot into chunks and layered them across the bottom of the slow cooker. My slow cooker is 3.7 quarts, this is only half the meat stuffed in here.

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Place both pieces of meat across the bed of veggies. I admittedly goofed a bit and bought more meat than what is techincally allowed in my cooker (a 3.7 quart cooker should have been topped off at about 4 lbs of meat). A lot of forums online say that your slow cooker shouldn’t be more that 3/4 full including liquids (eek), so I clearly went way over that and filled mine to the brim. I am happy to say though that it worked out, so if you feel the need to overstuff that cooker, stuff away at your own discretion!

Once your meat and veggies are nicely tucked into the cooker, drizzle red wine vinegar (heavier on this), worcestershire sauce, honey and olive oil (lighter on these three) over the contents of the cooker. Just an FYI, when using a cooker, the liquid has nowhere to evaporate so don’t overdo it on the liquid. The pork itself will release quite a bit of liquid and if you use too much liquid to start, your cooker might overflow and the point of the slow cooker is to come home to a nice smelling kitchen, not huge mess you need to clean! =) So be wary. I’d say I used around a cup of liquid ingredients, and that’s combined.

Close that baby up and set it on low heat for 8-10 hours. I walked out the door at 8am and came home to turn it off at 6:30pm and it was perfect. When I got home, I checked the meat with a thermometer just to make sure it was at a safe temp (200 degrees is where you want to and should be).

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If you need it to be done faster, you can cook it on high for less hours, between 4-6 hours. I did not try this method though so I cannot vouch for it, but mathematically, it makes sense. Either way, your result should be tender, tasty, falling apart pork. See exhibit below:

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I used a slotted spoon and fork to pick out the pork and separate it. I tossed out any fatty parts and connective tissue parts that didn’t break down correctly so I was left with tender chunks. Save a cup or so of the vegetable and pork fat liquid to add to the pork if you think it needs some extra moisture. Mix well. The great thing about this pulled pork is the versatility of the cooked meat. It is virtually unseasoned, a blank slate of sorts, so you can freeze what you don’t need for up to three months and simply thaw it out when you decide to create a dish. My first dish using this pulled pork is a classic, sweet BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Check out my next post to see how I did it!

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Cheers!
xx