Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pulled Pork and Purple Cabbage and Pinching Pennies

Last year I failed to use all of my annual leave from my job. I actually had to give up leave I had earned because I did not use it all in time. My boss told me that this is not acceptable as my mental health is more important than my finishing a report. Okay. I believe her. She's been doing this work longer than I have.

So this year, I put in for one Friday off each month along with my normal family vacations. Even to me this sounds like a lot of vacation time. But, I've been working a high stress job with the same organization since 1993 and due to budget cuts haven't seen a raise in over 5 years. To be honest, had I not gotten a promotion, back in 2006, I would still be making the same rate of pay I was making then. Basically, the state employees have not seen a raise in over 10 years. So, I'm glad I have vacation time that I earn each year.

So, what does all that have to do with this blog? Well two things, I can take one Friday each month and work on food prep; that's 12 extra days a year I did not have before to take care of large food prep issues like canning tomato sauce, butchering meat, planting gardens, etc. It also means that I need to do all of my food prep on a budget. A budget that is getting tighter due to rising gas prices and an office that is not getting closer to home. I seriously need to sit down and crunch some numbers and figure out if early retirement might save money by cutting down on the clothing and gas costs. Heck, we might even be able to get down to one car which would be a huge money saver.

In the interest of pinching a penny, I decided that one of the pork roasts we recently put in the freezer from our purchase of 1/2 a pastured hog; needed to stretch out over several meals. Making pulled pork seemed to be the first step in this and the plan became to make four meals for 2 people from one 2 pound pork roast.

This adventure in fine dining started yesterday with pulled pork. The roast, still frozen, was put into the slow cooker with the following ingredients:
  • 1 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vermouth
  • 1/2 cup mead (had some left over)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (I should have put more)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
Went in on high for four hours and then dropped to low for four hours. No peeking. Just turn it down midway through the process. At the end of 8 hours, I took it out and cut it into four pieces.

The four planned meals are: Barbeque Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Fermented Red Cabbage, Pork Perogies, Pork stirfy with veggies, and Pork Egg Fu Yong.

So the first meal is the Barbequed pulled pork sandwiches with Red Cabbage Ferment.

Red Cabbage Ferment lives in my frig at all times. It is my go-to condiment when I need a ferment for a meal. In this case, I also get to use fermented Ketchup. I pulled the pork meat apart with forks and pulled out the very large bits of fat and minced them and stirred them back into the meat. This goes into the oven on warm while I prepare the sauce.

So, to make the BBQ sauce:

1 cup of fermented ketchup
1 teaspoon of liquid smoke (I make my own soy free version and will share that recipe later)
1 tablespoon of organic tomato paste
1 tablespoon of raw honey
1 tablespoon of blackstrap molassas
1 teaspoon of ginger minced very fine
1 teaspoon of hot sauce or cayenne pepper (I used the pepper)
2 teaspoons of minced garlic\
2 tablespoons of cider or fruit vinegar (I like cherry vinegar myself)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix with a whisk. Taste. If too tart, add more honey; if too sweet, add more vinegar. If you are grilling with this, you may want to add more honey because it will carmelize in the heat and become thick and crunchy and wonderful but lose some of it's sweetness.  In this case, I'm just using it as is and stirring through the pulled pork.

To plate this dish for presentation as they say in the foodie world: Put down a layer (1/2 cup or so) of the red cabbage ferment on the plate. Put a cup of the sauced pork on top. Mince up some fresh parsley and sprinkle over the top. Put two or three homemade bread and butter pickles on the side with carrot and celery sticks. If you have a bread eater in the house, toast up a sourdough bun and spread it with a little brown mustard and serve it on the side. Diner gets to assemble his or her own sandwich. In my case, since I've given up bread, I just stirred the red cabbage into the pork and ate it straight off the plate. I also gave myself extra pickles and veggies. Good eats.

Serve with a dark beer or lemonaide or mix the beer and lemonaide and make a Shandy.

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