Monday, January 17, 2011

Hush Little Piggy, Don't You Fry.....

A recent random search of the internet produced this little gem of a recipe – Pulled Pork Hushpuppies.

And, really, can you ever get too much fried food? Ok, so the answer is yes, you CAN get too much fried food. Or, at least, that’s what my arteries are starting to tell me.

But really, you know me, and clearly I have a serious problem with feeling compelled to try any recipe I find that is unlike any other I have ever seen. Frankly, I can’t believe I haven’t seen some version of this little dandy floating around the lardy Midwestern area in which I reside. I think this would qualify for ideal “Fair Food”.

And, coincidentally (ok, so there is absolutely no coincidence here, I completely planned it this way, but that just sounds boring when you put it out there in the real world) I happened to be making pulled pork sandwiches last week, so it couldn’t have been better timing.

I do love pulled pork. I’m sure that any purist would scoff at my method. I am all in favor of slowly smoking a big ol’ pork butt, but you know what? I just don’t have the time or patience for it these days, and, after all, its just too damned cold outside. So, what do I do when I need a mouthful of porky goodness? Well, I get out the crock pot, thankyouverymuch. In my defense, I do at least make my own barbeque sauce for it.

So, on a brisk winter day, like so many we’ve been having lately, I generously season a pork butt (don’t you just love saying pork butt? Butt butt butt....) with salt and pepper, toss it in a crock pot with a couple of sliced onions, some crushed garlic cloves, and a can of root beer. Yes, you heard me right. I said ROOT BEER. I don’t know why, but it just imparts a wonderful flavor to the pork.

When I come home after an exhausting day at work, dinner is nearly finished. All I have to do is mix up the sauce and let it simmer while I’m shredding the pork and filling my wine glass.

Speaking of the sauce, I have to say up front that I am not a fan of the Midwestern style barbeque sauces. The thick, tangy, tomato based sauces are not for me. I much prefer the vinegary concoctions of the Carolinas. So, to please everyone, I make mine a combination of both. A little tomato-ey, and a little vinegar-y, with a touch (ok, maybe more than a touch, depending on my mood) of heat. The hubs and I have come up with a combination that pleases us both.

I call it the Midwest Transplant Barbeque Cocktail. Because that’s me. The transplant in this small town.

And so, you can surely understand why I was intrigued when I saw this recipe for Pulled Pork Hushpuppies. Deep fried dough....and pulled one conveniently sized finger food. Really, there wasn’t even a decision involved. Except maybe for how to fit it into our dinner schedule. Then it came to me – if I don’t use that leftover pulled pork soon, its gonna go bad! Best motivation I ever had.

And so, it was Pulled Pork Hushpuppy (which I have affectionately come to call “HushPiggies”) night at my house last night. You gotta love a recipe that not only uses up leftover ingredients lounging around in the depths of your Frigidaire, but is also a dump-and-mix style recipe. Yep, put it all in a bowl, mix it up, shape into balls, and deep fry. That’s Midwestern ingenuity at its finest, right there.

And, as an added bonus, I already have the barbeque sauce in the fridge, too, so VOILA! Instant dipping sauce. I tried it on its own, and then tried mixing equal parts barbeque sauce and sour cream. Uh, Can you say “yum”? I knew you could.

1 cup of fine yellow corn meal
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
pinch of red chili flake
1/2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup of finely chopped red onion
2 scallions, finely sliced
1 serrano chili, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (I had jalapeño, so that’s what I used.)
1 cup of pulled pork
1/2 cup of Mexican blend cheese (I used cheddar)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup of buttermilk
Oil for deep frying

Preheating your oil to around 350-375 degrees.

Mix all of your ingredients together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl, making sure that the flour and corn meal are fully incorporated.

Using a meatball-sized scooper (or two small spoons, if you don’t have a scooper) portion the batter out into round balls. Carefully slide them into the hot oil, and repeat.
Deep-fried goodness.
**NOTES: I think these could have used more cheese, so next time (and yes, there will definitely be a next time) I will try a full cup of cheese. I thought they could have used a little more heat, so I will probably add more chili flake or fresh chiles next time as well. Another addition I plan on is bacon. I know I’m freakishly addicted to bacon, but I really think some chopped up bacon would add a lot to these.

The hubs was curious about this new recipe I was trying and Ty was determined to help, so I was letting him add the ingredients to the bowl for me while the hubs put dirty dishes in the sink and retrieved ingredients for me. I felt like I was on a cooking show. Once the first batch of Piggies cooled off enough to taste, the hubs popped one in his mouth and made an unusual noise. It went something like this:

Him: Mwuaahhhh

Me: is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Him: HHmmmMMuaahhh....

Me: That’s good, right?

Him *nodding reverently with his eyes closed*

Me: You want some more?

Him: MmmmmHmmmm....

This was also one of those dishes that the hubs kept saying things like, “Ok, that’s the last one”, or “I’m going to stop now, I swear”, and then he’d reach over and grab another one, even as I was walking away with the tray to put the leftovers away.
I mean, really. Look at that. How can you resist?
So, all in all. This recipe will definitely be repeated in our kitchen....probably every time we have pulled pork from now until eternity....

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