Thursday, April 5, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Pulled Mesquite Smoked Boston Butt over Irish Soda Bread Scones with Whiskey Braised Leeks

In a perfect world, I would have started brining the corned beef on Monday. In a perfect world, I would have driven to the store to buy the brisket and the ground mace, whole cloves, the all spice berries and the coriander seeds I needed to begin my first curing experiment. In a perfect world, my job wouldn't be so soul-suckingly awful that I spent Monday night chewing on ice and staring at a bare wall in the dark until my blood pressure stopped making my neck hurt.

But alas, this is not a perfect world.

But in this world, things are looking up. It is summer in the winter time! What to do with an 80 degree Saturday in March that just happens to be St. Patrick's Day?

Faith and Begorrah!

What is this delicious mess?

It begins with a Boston Butt. I brined the 7.5 lb Boston Butt overnight in my regular brine:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 1/2 ounces kosher salt, approximately 3/4 cup
In the morning, I pulled the pork out of the refrigerator and let it warm up for about an hour on the counter. Then I slathered it with some whole grain mustard and applied a dry rub of paprika, cumin, white pepper, fresh ground black pepper, thyme and brown sugar.

Then I filled the water pan and ran the smoker at 225 degrees and fed it steady diet of mesquite chips. It was a relaxing, fragrant, sunny early after noon. The outside temp was a little higher than my winter smoking adventures, so i had to do some tweaking to get the temp down to 225- but i think I am starting to get the hang of this thing.

After a couple hours, it mopped the pork with some of this guy:

Guinness Extra Stout

Then I retired to the kitchen to see what Mariah was up to. Mariah says:

Caramelized onions are a science, but not a hard science. It's like when you tie dyed t-shirts in chemistry class at the end of the year kind of science. It's simple, but things need to be "just so" in order to achieve the proper results. You will need onions (any will do, but go for a sweeter kind if you can... and that includes the red ones). Slice them thin across "the belly" (mid-way between the tuft at the top and the nub at the bottom) of the onion.

It really doesn't matter how you slice the onion, actually. It's just a preference thing. Meanwhile you've got your butter melting in the pan on medium-high heat. And once it's melted throw in the onions and stir so they get coated. I throw in about a teaspoons worth of sugar at this point too( for good measure). And I let 'em do their thing for about 15 minutes poking at them once and a while with a spoon to move them around.

In the mean time- mix up the wet and dry ingredients in a cup or bowl- some kind of vessel. 2 Tbs of Balsamic Vinegar, one Tbs of brown sugar, and 1/2 of red wine (look, sometimes you've got to sacrifice for good things to come). After 15 minutes or so you should drizzle the now completely wet mixture into the pan to play with the already caramelizing onions. Keep this little charade up for another half hour and you got a nice little caramelized onion jam. They should be sweet and they should be sticky. It's jam, foo'.

No- there should not be any liquid left. If things seem to be moving too fast (like liquid disappearing too quickly, or onions burning) feel free to turn down the heat a little or add more balsamic- it's not going to hurt anyone.
Unless you sniff the heat activated vinegar- then KAPOW! that's gonna sting a little bit.

Then Mariah made:

Irish Soda Bread Scones:

These were just delicious. From Smitten Kitchen-

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon table salt (this is 2/3 the original amount, which I found too salty)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 tablespoons softened, 1 tablespoon melted)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup currants or raisins
1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the upper-middle position. Whisk dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt) in a large bowl. Work the softened butter into the dry ingredients with a fork, pastry blender or your fingertips until the flour mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the wet ingredients (buttermilk and egg), currants or raisins and caraway seeds, if you’re using them, and stir with a fork until the dough just begins to come together. Turn out onto a work surface (CI says you need a floured one but I didn’t agree) and knead until the dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy. You’re not going for a smooth dough — CI warns that this will make it tough.
Pat dough into a round and use a knife or dough divider to cut it into 8 wedges. Form each wedge into a round and place on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. Cut a cross shape into the top of each.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees (this is especially helpful in this recipe, where doneness is hard to judge from the outside). Scones should be golden brown a skewer should come out clean. Remove from the oven and brush with butter before cooling to room temperature
We will be important later.

Whiskey Braised Leeks

On the Irish theme, I pick ups some leeks. Apparently, prepping these guys is a big deal. I cut below the dark green and just above the roots. Then I cut them in half lengthwise and washed the holy hell out of them.

Brown them in 1:1 olive oil/butter blend. Add the leeks when the oil is hot enough to make water droplets hop. The brown each side for about 2 minutes. After the leeks are browned, add solution of water, a shot of irish whiskey, some thyme and a few pinches of sugar. Throw in a pinch of kosher salt and grind some pepper.

If you like cabbage, try the leeks. The whiskey adds a bit of sweetness to a subtle and delicate dish. Leeks makes cabbage look stupid.



Then it was all about the pork.


I finished the butt in the oven again because it was getting late and we were getting hungry. The water pan kept this very moist but didn't seem to interfere with the smoking of the meat. Per usual, I got the internal temp up to 190 and let it hang out there for a little while to allow the collagens to dissolve. I pulled the pork with a couple of forks and served over the Irish Soda Bread Scones  topped with the Caramelized Onions with the Leeks on the side. Mariah was so kind as to add some fried smashed potato fingerlings.



The cold light of day.

Morning has broken and what do I have in the fridge for a sunday breakfast? Well, pulled pork. I have 6 pounds of smoked pulled pork. I know that's in there. Let's make some hash. I started with infusing some olive oil with garlic, then I added the potatoes on medium heat.

I softened and brown the potatoes, then added some red wine and the pork, lowered the heat and covered.

I added some rosemary, white pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme and some cinnamon and let it cook. At the very end I added some nutmeg and pulled the pan off heat. I fried an egg over easy and added to the plate with a pinch of kosher salt served over the soda bread scone.



  1. Actually- the scones were from Smitten Kitchen.

    1. And not Smitten Kitten. That is a very, very different website from Smitten Kitchen.