Monthly Archives: July 2012

Beaver Creek’s 9th Annual Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival

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As a San Diegan, I sometimes forget that weather can affect your travel plans, even derail them. Of course, that’s not always a bad thing.

When my birthday/Memorial Day weekend plans to Stanley, Idaho got quashed by a snow storm, we had to quickly regroup. Southwest had good fares to Denver, so we went there instead — with absolutely no plans of what to do.

While taking an early morning drive through the countryside, we made a pit stop at a tiny coffee shop, where someone had left a local paper on the counter. On its cover was a brown-eyed, pig-tailed little girl, whose face was painted with bbq sauce. I read the first few lines. It said that Beaver Creek’s 9th Annual Blues, Brews & BBQ festival was taking place that very day.

“I know where we’re going today,” I said to my husband.

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The first thing we noticed upon arrival was the enticing smell of smoked bbq that hung in the air like a curtain. We scanned the festival, and everywhere we looked, there was beer and bbq. We purchased our Beaver bucks (tokens to buy bbq and beer), bought a couple of cold IPAs and started surveying the bbq booths — over a dozen of Colorado’s best pitmasters were serving up various styles of smoked pork with flavors ranging from smoky mesquite to fruity apples and peaches. We felt like kids let loose with lots of money at the amusement park:

“OMG, did you see that pulled pork sandwich that guy was eating? We have to ask him where he got it,” I said and began walking after him.

“No, no,” my husband interjected and pulled me back. “We can’t fill up on bread. It’s too early in the day. Let’s get some ribs instead.”

Smart.

Our first ribs were a disappointment: a stingy serving of baby backs lightly brushed with a too-sweet berry-beer sauce. 4 Beaver Bucks wasted. We needed a strategy.  So we sat at a picnic table, sipped our cold IPAs, listened to the live music, and scoured the crowd for the best-looking dishes. Then we’d ask the people the names of the bbq joints and head over to their booths.

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Things got tastier. We headed to Moe’s Original BBQ which may have been the best deal of the day. Each serving included 5 to 6 behemoth ribs, with meat so buttery soft you barely needed to chew. They were even better when liberally dunked in the spicy mustard sauce that came on the side. While we were there, I talked my husband into getting the pulled pork slider. “It’s smaller than a sandwich, so you don’t have to worry about filling up on the bread,” I said. Score.

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From there, we got a sausage on a stick that was good but not life-altering. But what’s a food festival without eating some food on a stick?

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Then we got the piece de resistance of the entire festival: pork wings from Kirby Cosmos BBQ Bar. Apparently pigs do fly.

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These meaty “wings,” (actually meat cut from the fibula) were frighteningly good. With a solid piece of bone to hold on to, you can tear into the meat with abandon, which is exactly what we did. Sticky fingered and bloated belly minutes later, I pleaded for a break.

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“OK, let’s get something light then, like grilled corn,” my husband said.

Corn seemed virtuous at the point, so I said, “Sure.”

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On the way there, I said, “Look! It’s the little girl on the cover of the newspaper.”

“It can’t be,” my husband said. “What are the chances? There’s thousands of people here.”

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I walked over to her and asked her mom. Sure enough it was her. When I asked if I could take her picture while she held the paper up, she suddenly became shy, a character trait her younger sister didn’t share. The little one snatched the paper from her mom’s hand, opened it up to page 6, and proudly exclaimed, “I’m in there too!”

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We didn’t stay for the bbq competition results. After four hours of finger-licking pork eating, we still had a two-hour drive back to Denver.

“Wait!” my husband said as were leaving. “I’ve got two more Beaver bucks left. We can’t waste them.” So we got a couple of pork-stuffed jalapenos.

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On the way out, we passed this guy below. We weren’t the only ones who had eaten a lot of pork.

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As we were leaving, I said to my husband, “I know where I want to spend my birthday next year.”

You Could Win $3000 in the “1,001 Plates of Pulled Pork” Facebook Contest

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The Broham from Phil’s BBQ in San Diego.

Reason #32 to love Southern cuisine: Pig pickins. That’s when a group of friends gather together, cook a whole pig, then pick it, or pull the meat it apart to create a mammoth platter of pulled pork. Of course, you don’t have to live in the South to appreciate pulled pork. It’s one of America’s favorite dishes. And it’s easy to see why:

· Pulled pork is a surprisingly easy dish to make, especially in slow cooker. Once the meat is inside, the cook can simply walk away from it knowing that in several hours a delicious meal will be ready to serve.

· Slow cookers have always been a popular cooking method, but pulled pork preparation is as versatile as its flavor possibilities, running the gamut from the grill to the stovetop to the oven. And it can be enjoyed in countless ways, like in tacos and stir-fries, or on salads, pizzas and more.

· Pulled pork has seen a recent surge in popularity, as home cooks and chefs alike discover new ways to prepare and serve this savory favorite. In fact, quick-service restaurants like Subway, Quiznos and, most recently, Burger King have added BBQ pulled pork sandwiches to their menus in the last year.

· According to Google Insights, pulled pork recipe searches have more than doubled in the past four years.

Facebook Contest “1,001 Plates of Pulled Pork”

Since we’re pretty sure you love pulled pork as much as we do, the National Pork Board is hosting a Facebook contest called “1,001 Plates of Pulled Pork.”

Pulled pork fans across the country are encouraged to share their creative spins on this summer staple. That’s right. Show us your passion for pulled pork and you could win $3,000!

Click here for contest details. And follow updates on www.Facebook.com/PorkBeInspired.

Good luck!

In the Kitchen with Gingham Chef Ryan Studebaker


Brian Malarkey
from “Top Chef” Miami fame has transformed San Diego’s food scene over the last few years opening five fabulously successful restaurants, with more to come.

Gingham, his “Feast in the East” in La Mesa, CA, serves up muscular meat dishes for urban cowboys. Today, Gingham’s Chef Ryan Studebaker lets us in the kitchen to show how he makes his hefty racks of pork ribs with Hefeweizen Golden State bbq sauce and his pork belly eggs benedict with chipotle-lime hollandaise, a gourmet twist on bacon and eggs.

Making Asian Pork Lettuce Cups

Asian pork lettuce cups

If you’ve dined at a modern Asian restaurant recently, especially P.F. Chang’s, chances are good you’ve eaten lettuce cups. Indeed, they’ve created quite a reputation for themselves. From vegans to carnivores, there’s a lettuce cup recipe to suit everyone’s taste.

For me, lettuce cups are best when they have noodles and pork, so today I’m sharing my recipe for Asian pork lettuce cups which are easy to make but require a few steps. Once you’ve made them a couple of times, you’ll get faster and faster, and more comfortable with making your own ingredient substitutions. Don’t like mung bean sprouts? Try alfalfa or buckwheat sprouts. Love soba noodles? Use them in place of rice noodles. Can’t find a ripe mango? Try a ripe papaya or pineapple. After all, how can you not have fun with food served in an edible cup?

Asian Pork Lettuce Cups

Makes 8 to 10 lettuce cups

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound ground pork*
3 green onions, thinly sliced, green and white parts
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
1 serrano chile, minced
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup
The juice 1 small lime
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
5 to 6 ounces of rice noodles, or noodles of your choice, cooked according to directions

Serve with:

1 head Boston or iceberg lettuce
1 large or 2 small ripe mangoes, diced
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup shredded carrots
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1 small bunch fresh mint

1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, warm sesame oil. Add pork and cook 5 minutes, without touching. Add green onions, celery, and chile, and stir. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until the pork is no longer pink.

2. In a small bowl whisk soy sauce, water, lime juice, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Add to the pan, and cook 2 minutes or until it begins to bubble and thicken. Add the noodles and swiftly toss until well coated. Place in a large bowl or platter. To make a lettuce cup, scoop some of the pork-noodle mixture into a piece of lettuce, top with mango, bean sprouts, carrots, and herbs.

Cook’s Note: Using regular ground pork as opposed to low-fat or 99% fat-free will make the dish moister and tastier.

What’s a BLAT?

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What’s a BLAT?

A. A genome bioinformatics site.

B.  A windows command line SMTP mailer.

C. A form of corruption in the Soviet Union.

D. Bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato sandwich.

E. All of the above.

The answer is E.

I have no idea what A, B and C are, but Google says they’re all BLATs, so they must be. But who cares? There’s only one you can eat, and that’s D.

Since it’s summertime, why not make a BLAT salad? Mix mesclun with crispy bacon, juicy tomatoes, and creamy avocado and toss in a warm balsamic-Dijon vinaigrette until slick. If you can’t live without the bread, then toss a couple handfuls of crunchy croutons into yours. Then BLAT with pleasure as you eat it. (BLAT: verb: to produce an overblown sound.)

BLAT Salad

Serves 4

6 slices bacon

2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 heaping tablespoon Dijon or spicy mustard

2 (7 to 8 ounce bags) salad mix

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 small or 1 large ripe avocado

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a paper-towel lined dish, reserving 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat in the pan. Add vinegar and mustard to the pan, and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat.

2. In a large bowl, add salad mix, tomatoes, avocado, bacon and warm vinaigrette. Toss until well coated and serve.

Healthy Grilled Pork Tenderloin Tacos with Fresh Apricot Salsa

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When I spotted sun-kissed apricots at the farmers’ market last weekend, I immediately thought, “These would be great with pork.” Clearly, I’m in the right business. Pork gets along surprisingly well with many fruits, including grapes, mangoes, pineapple, peaches, and most notably, apples. With their short season, however, apricots often get overlooked. Don’t let that happen this year. Instead, make these Grilled Pork Tenderloin Tacos with Fresh Apricot Salsa. The smoky, charred flavor of the pork is enhanced by the vibrant sweetness and tang of the lime-spiked fresh apricot salsa. It’s a simple, healthy, seasonal meal that won’t disappoint.

Want to learn more about how to grill pork tenderloin? Check out this post.

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin Tacos with Fresh Apricot Salsa

Makes 10 to 12 tacos

Pork:

2 pounds pork tenderloin, sliced into 3/4-inch-thick rounds

salt and black pepper

Canola oil, for brushing grill grates

Salsa:

8 ripe apricots, diced (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

2 green onions, both green and white parts, thinly sliced

The zest and juice of 2 limes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on your desired spiciness

10 to 12 (6-inch) tortillas

Lime wedges

Preheat grill to medium-high and lightly brush grates with canola oil. Season pork with salt and black pepper on both sides. Grill for 5 minutes without touching, then flip and grill an additional 3 minutes or until charred all over yet still slightly tender in the middle. Transfer to a plate, cover with tinfoil, and let rest for 5 minutes to seal in the juices, before serving.

For the salsa, combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently toss.

To warm the tortillas, place on the upper level of the grill away from direct heat for 1 minute per side, or until heated through. Tuck 2 pieces of pork into each tortilla, top with salsa, and serve with fresh lime wedges on the side.