My parents returned to British Columbia this week and I returned to blogging catch-up, an overgrown garden, a neglected house, and piles of laundry! We are recovering from the non-stop action that ensued while they were here, not to mention a nasty cold for Yours Truly, and trying to get back to a normal routine, whatever that is!
It is always fun to play tourist in your own town and we had a great time soaking up the culture of the city together: visiting art galleries, catching a few shows at the Jazz festival, window shopping, and of course, dining out. Quebec's beautiful countryside didn't go unnoticed either as we managed to spend three days touring rural Quebec, visiting wineries, local farms, quaint towns and relaxing by lakes. Such fun!
But mostly during their visit we ate!
We feasted on grilled lamb, fresh seafood, BBQ-ed steaks and a cheese fondue and plenty other delicious dishes as I was determined to put a few pounds on my svelte parents.
As usual I was too busy hosting, cooking and mothering to take any photos of our dining enjoyment, let alone half a brain to remember what ingredients I put together, but there was one exception that managed to get partially captured and that was a Sunday afternoon garden party where we stuffed ourselves with pulled pork sandwiches.
Inspired by the cover of Gourmet magazine's June issue,I thought pulled pork would be a great way to go for a hungry group of twenty-five or so close friends and family. This was a very homey menu, perfect for a backyard party, with plenty of comfort food favorites like potato salad and brownies. Guests helped themselves to a table full of food and made their own sandwiches, while paper plates made for easy clean-up.
Tortilla chips with guacamole
Southern Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Cole Slaw and Pickles
Potato Salad with Hard-boiled Egg, Baby Cucumber and Radish
Salad of Endive, Pecans, Cheddar and Granny Smith Apple
Earl Grey Lemon Iced Tea
It was a sweltering hot day, but we kept cool in the shade with the help of some homemade beverages. I made my iced tea with Earl Grey, then added thin slices of lemon and lots of ice just before serving. The day before the party Danny squeezed oodles of lime juice to which I added simple syrup. I stored that concentrated mixture in my fridge and then added cold water, ice and raspberries when I served it. The berries turned it a pretty pink color.
The pulled-pork sandwiches were the highlight of the meal, though: crusty buns, crunchy coleslaw, tender sweet and sour pork. I had tried a few recipes previously and found this one from Martha Stewart to be best suited to my busy schedule. While the Gourmet recipe takes over 8 hours on a charcoal kettle grill with plenty of basting and babysitting, this recipe turned my 12 pounds of pork shoulder into fork-tender shreds in about three hours in my oven. Perfect!
This recipe, together with my simple coleslaw and some buns, you are set to entertain this summer!
Southern Pulled Pork Sandwiches (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Serves 8.1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 4 equal pieces
1 cup cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 soft sandwich rolls, split
Store-bought barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in lower and upper positions. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Place pork in a 5-quart Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot; rub with spice mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, garlic, and 1 cup water; pour over pork. Cover pot, and place in oven on lower rack. Bake until pork is very tender and separates easily when pulled with a fork, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Transfer pork to a work surface, reserving pan juices. With two forks, shred meat. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with pan juices to moisten (you may not need all the juices). Pile pork on rolls, and top with barbecue sauce, if desired.
1 1/2 lbs green cabbage, shredded
1 lb purple cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, grated
7 large radishes, grated
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper
Toss cabbage, carrots and radishes with salt and pepper in a large bowl.
In another bowl combine mayo, vinegar and sugar. Toss mixture with slaw until well combined. Cover and chill for at least one hour.
May be made up to one day ahead of time and kept chilled.