I know, I know I live in South Florida and I don't know about cold. Yeah, can we take the Yankee smearing of my fortitude and lack of grit as read? But the truth is there are only a few weeks all year where it is cold enough here to make truly hearty winter foods and last night was one of them!
Menu: Pulled Pork, collard greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, coleslaw.
The pulled pork recipe was adapted from Paula Deen's pulled pork recipe, basically you take a a pork shoulder and rub it all over with spices and brown sugar. I use my husband's TOP SECRET no TELLIN, *ever* dry rub and some brown sugar to coat the meat. Alton Brown and Paula Deen both have excellent dry rubs that you can use, there are also commercially available dry rubs. The real "secret" is to let the rub sit on the meat for at least 2 hours if not all night. Then you add a mixture of 2 tsp. garlic powder, salt, 2 TB worcestershire, 1/2 TB of liquid smoke, 1 C of cider vinegar and 2 C of apple juice to the dutch oven or roasting pan. Add the meat to the pan. Cover the pan with heavy foil and then put the lid on that. Slow roast this in the oven for 4 hours at 325 until you are able to shred the pork with a fork. You can eat the pulled pork as is or top with barbecue sauce.
Collard greens are so simple it is embarrassing. Fry bacon in a stock pot, add some finely chopped onion if you like. Toss rinsed, chopped, de-ribbed (only the really large tough ribs) collards in the pot, stir until wilted. Top with water or stock and heat through. They sell pre-chopped collards in a bag these days which makes it even easier.
Black-eyed peas were the big experiment of the night. I had forgotten to start them earlier in the day and I was stumped till I remembered I had received a pressure cooker for Christmas. I have never used a pressure cooker before so I was a little leery. I followed the directions and assembled the cooker, added the sorted, rinsed beans, a half an onion, a chopped carrot and 4 C of water. You lock on the lid, hit high pressure, and time and let it go. The beans came out delicious, soft and flavored well in only 24 minutes!!!. I did not add salt as the beans were cooking as this can inhibit the beans from going soft, but adding salt at the end seasoned them well. A piece of ham hock or bacon would have been good, but I had used my bacon for the collards.
I took the easy way out with the coleslaw and bought a pre-shredded bag of cabbage and carrots. Let the mix stand in a colander over the sink sprinkled liberally with salt for 20 minutes. After it has released its moisture toss the mix with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp of sugar, and a sprinkle of your dry rub. Then mix together 1/4 C of mayo with 1/4 C of Ranch dressing, pour over the mix and toss till coated. I can't stand soggy coleslaw so this may be too dry for you, adjust amounts as needed.
And now the final piece of the meal, fresh hot cornbread. I realized I was out of Jiffy corn muffin mix which is my go-to for cornbread, but I did have some cornmeal on hand. I used the recipe (more or less) on the back of the bag.
Golden Yellow Corn Bread
1 C corn meal
1 C sifted flour (I used bread flour and did not sift)
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 C soft shortening (I used some smart balance and some cold solidified bacon grease I had in the fridge. Yes, I did.)
1 C milk
1 egg beaten
3 tsp baking powder
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening (or whatever you use.) Mix egg and milk together and add to dry ingredients with a few quick strokes. (Seriously, do not over beat corn bread batter!) Bake in a greased 9x9x2 inch pan at 425 for 20-25 minutes. (I only had an 8x8 pan and I baked it in a 350 degree oven due to the meat cooking and it came out fine.) When cornbread is brown around the edges and pulling away and a a toothpick inserted comes out clean it is done. I don't see why you couldn't have the dry ingredients for this pre-mixed and ready to go in your pantry at all times. It was lightly, lightly sweet and delicious.