Friday, April 3, 2009

Red Beans and Rice pt. 1

I'm making red beans and rice for a (god willing, rain ceasing) barbecue on Sunday. The secret ingredient here is pickled pork – shoulder meat, submersed in an aromatic pickling liquid for anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. After giving the pork adequate time to sit, I'll stew the meat with red kidney beans, celery and onion.

The pickle recipe I devised here is a variation on Alton Brown's. It will provide enough liquid for about two pounds of pork shoulder.

  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard seed
  • 3 tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1 tsp spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 thai chili
  • 1 tbsp tobasco
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire
  • 2 cups ice

Bring all ingredients up to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes, allowing the spices to infuse the liquid. Kill the heat, and toss in the ice. As the liquid cools, taste, and season with vinegar, salt and sugar if necessary. It shouldn't taste noticably sweet. It should be quite salty and acidic, but not so much so that it is unpleasant to taste.

Once the liquid is cool, pour in a ziplock bag with 2 lbs pork shoulder cut into 2 inch cubes.

Afterwards, you want to expel all the excess air in the ziplock bag, so that the pork pickles evenly:
  • Fill a large pot with cold water.
  • Seal the ziplock bag, but leave a small portion unzipped in one corner.
  • Submerge the bag in water, all the way up until seal. The water pressure will squeeze out all the excess air air.
  • While the bag is still submerged, close the seal.

Here's a video of the process.

I learned this trick from Montana Forest (real name), the prep cook at WD-50. It is my favorite thing that I have learned in 2009. Thanks Monty!

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