Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pulled Pork Waffle Sandwich

...wait, I thought you served enchiladas?! The history of this stacked waffle creation is a long, rambling story, and if you don't care about the details just scroll to the bottom for a quick version. I will understand if you want to skip to the how-to details. But if you are interested in how a chicken enchilada lunch turned into pulled pork waffle sandwiches, here's the tale.

It began when ex-Seattlites Char and Bill, two college friends who introduced us eons ago, planned a return trip to the city for some appointments. What a perfect opportunity to visit and catch up on life events over a lengthy lunch here at the house. After checking with Char about food allergies and preferences, I planned an easy-to-prep-ahead menu for our buffet lunch. 

Chicken, Green Chile and Cheese Enchiladas
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas 
Creamy Cabbage Slaw with Avocado
Butter Pecan Cookies and pecan caramel ice cream
and an unplanned serving of Baby Back Pork Ribs

A large rack of ribs, already trimmed and coated with my spicy homemade dry rub, already sat marinating in the fridge. I tossed the pork into the oven early in the day to prebake it low-and-slow, planning to reheat and sauce it for dinner that night or the next day. Lucky decision! That unplanned, spur-of-the-moment rib decision to bake the ribs saved the day. It seems there were just a few more food items to avoid - beans and nuts! Eek! without the pork ribs, "friendly" lunch choices could have been pretty limited. 

The hours flew by as we laughed, reminisced, nibbled away at lunch, talked some more and ate some more. The chicken enchiladas were a major hit, disappearing quickly, but the sweet potato enchiladas were strictly a "girly" choice. The guys preferred the ribs with barbecue sauce, no surprise there. Salads and vegetables were sampled, but no one scooped up a third helping. Eventually two servings of enchiladas and a ton of corn salad, cabbage slaw and various pickled vegetables plus half of the ribs remained to enjoy later in the week. Visualize one refrigerator shelf loaded with plastic containers of tasty leftovers. 

Reheated wedges of sweet potato and black bean enchilada starred as fabulous breakfast fare the next morning - okay, fabulous for at least one of us. Salsa and/or a poached egg boosted the visual appeal and popped the flavor; these might be a better brunch than lunch item. 

Reheated pork ribs, served on the bone, sounded boring the next day. Not terrible, just routine and boring. So I pulled the sauced meat off the bone, shredded it and mentally ran through some sandwich options. Pulled pork on a bun would be tasty, but then visions of Chicken and Waffles danced through my brain. Shazam! inspiration hit - pulled pork on a cheddar cheese, cornmeal-flavored waffle would be even better! and it was. lots better. minus the hot maple syrup, of course. This version made good use of yesterday's lunch leftovers, but I'd make bbq pork again and again just to revisit this waffle sandwich... a pulled pork wafflewich.

Pulled Pork Waffle Sandwich

Serves 3-4 (or more depending on serving size) 

For the waffles

I substitute 1/4 cup cornmeal for an equal amount of starter in a double batch of my standard sourdough waffle recipe (link). Sprinkle a small handful of shredded cheddar (or jack or Havarti) on top of the raw batter just before closing the lid on the loaded waffle iron. Cook until crisp; repeat with remaining batter. Place cooked waffles on a grate and hold in a warm oven (the grate keeps the bottoms from going soft and soggy).

For the filling

Pull the cooked, sauced meat off the bones of 6 meaty pork spareribs (link), discarding any large pockets of fat, and shred or pull apart the pork into bite-sized chunks. Slice a medium sweet onion into thin strips. Measure a cup or so of your favorite homemade or bottled barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's).

For the sandwiches
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wide skillet and saute thin slices of onion until softened - add slices of sweet or spicy peppers if you like. Add the meat and a cup of  barbecue sauce to the skillet; stir to mix and heat until the meat is warm. 
  • Split a Belgian waffle quarter or half piece to separate top and bottom (or use 2 thin regular waffles) and ladle the filling generously over the base. Sprinkle with more cheese (and consider adding slices of avocado, bacon or grilled poblano chile slices). Add the waffle topper and serve. Repeat.
  • Note: One quarter of a fat Belgian waffle makes a filling lunch for dainty, ladylike appetites, but half-waffle portions are more the norm in my kitchen.   

Monday, June 27, 2016

Butter Pecan Cookies

There is a new favorite cookie in my galley. Yes, it's shocking but true, Cruising Cookies dropped to "also-ran" status last week as we consumed batch after batch of Toasted-Pecan Butter Cookies. Granted, they were small batches of small two-bite treats, but that's still a lot of cookies. 

How good were these soft yet crunchy, buttery baked goods? Guests enjoyed them, even those on diets, and one of the boatyard mechanics asked for the recipe. It is hard to resist a cookie that combines the rich, buttery flavor of shortbread and butter cookies topped with a sprinkle of sugar. 

Soft, really soft butter was the key to ease of forming the little dough balls. They firmed up nicely as I rolled each scoop of dough between my palms, and flattened without crumbling. Dough balls using a colder butter stick resisted compression and were harder to work with. Ahhh, the range between early morning "room temperature" and late afternoon "room temperature" made such a difference! 

Try a batch and see if these nutty cookies become your favorites. Betcha can't eat just one!

Toased-Pecan Butter Cookies
a la Martha Stewart

Yields 1 1/2 - 2 dozen

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature or softer but not melted

    1/3 cup sugar, plus more for coating
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, toast pecans until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool completely and finely chop. 
  • Use an electric mixer to cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until light, about 1 minute. Beat in the remaining ingredients  (vanilla, almond extract if using, salt, and flour), scraping down sides of bowl, just until dough comes together. Fold in pecans. 
  • Use a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon to gather small balls of dough; roll and pack into compact balls. Roll in sugar and place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Gently press with the bottom of a glass to flatten slightly; reshape the sides as necessary. Sprinkle with sugar. 
  • Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Rotate the cookie sheets halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with more sugar (optional) and let cool 5-10 minutes on cookie sheet. Remove cookies from baking sheets and let cool completely on a wire rack.(They crumble and break apart if you eat them immediately - ask me how I know!)

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