Friday, August 7, 2009

Shredded Pork Tamale Pie

Okay, so I didn't make the tomatillo sauce and chiptole mashed potatoes today, instead I made tamale pie! This is very inexpensive to make, the Ro*tel is the most expensive ingredient at $.98+ a can. Total I'd say it cost between $3-5 to make and it can feed 4-8 people depending upon the portion size. This was my first time to make it and I altered the original recipe enough to warrant typing it up here. It came out super moist and spicy. If you don't like as much spice cut down or eliminate the cayenne. It was so yummy it's going to become a regular meal in my home.

Here's how I made it:

2-3 cups shredded pork
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup milk
2 cups frozen corn
1 can Ro*tel
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water
Butter spray
1/2-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any kind you like)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a pot, large sauce pan or skillet with deep sides, combine corn meal, milk, corn, Ro*tel, eggs, chili powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Cook over medium to medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes adding 1/4 cup water each time the mixture starts to get really thick and dough-like. There will be a small amount that will burn on the bottom of the pan, don't worry about this.

My pork was sitting in the fridge overnight so I reheated it in a small saucepan with 1/2 c water while I was stirring the corn meal mixture. The last few minutes of cooking I added the shredded pork to the corn mixture along with the water from the pan and stirred until combined and dough-like.

In a greased 2 qt baking dish (about 6"x10") pour the mixture and level. Bake for 30 minutes (another 10-15 minutes if your oven tends to under cook), remove and turn off heat in oven, sprinkle pie with cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes to allow cheese to melt. Remove again, cut into squares and serve.

Mexican rice or refried beans would be great side dishes for this meal.

*Frugal tip, you can use less meat the more finely you shred it. You'll still have all the flavor and never be able to tell there is less meat this way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Super Easy Faux Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork

So most of us don't have a BBQ Pit or are pit masters. But after watching several BBQ cookoffs on Food Network and the Travel Channel this summer when I spotted a pork butt (shoulder roast) at the meat market for only $.99 a pound this week I couldn't pass it up. When I got it home I had to figure out how to cook the thing. I've had lots of luck making pulled beef in my crock pot and last week I successfully roasted a chicken in the crock, so I knew that would be my vessel of choice again. However, I really didn't want to add any water to the roast, and since I roasted the chicken last week without water I figured I would do a little experiment and put the pork butt in dry and see how it turned out. I have to say it is perfect! Now I've never been a big pork fan but this is really good. Here's how I did it:

I sprinkled on some liquid hickory smoke, seasoned the pork butt (isn't that just fun to say?) with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder and onion powder (it's the base seasoning mix hubby and I use for all our meat cooking), and cooked on each side in a skillet until browned (this is to add flavor). When all the side were browned I put the pork butt in an oiled crockpot (olive oil spray), added a little more liquid hickory smoke for good measure, and cooked for 10 hours overnight on low.

When I woke up (waking up to check on food is always a good start to the day!) I tried picking up the pork butt with a pair of tongs and it just fell apart, so I tried picking up the bone with the tongs and the meat fell clean off the bone (this was a great treat for my black lab mix, Geordi, although it occurred to me after I gave him the bone that it would have been an excellent way to season some pinto beans when I make refried beans from the crock pot). So I shredded the meat with a fork and tongs and as soon as hubby is done working on the car I'm going to mix part of the meat with some BBQ sauce (haven't attempted making this homemade yet, so I buy various Texas brands when we're out at restaurants) for pulled pork sandwiches. The remainder of the meat I plan on making my tomatillo sauce (much like salsa), tossing the meat with it, then serving it with chipotle mashed potatoes (one of my hubby's faves).

So have no fear and give this method a try. I may have to try the same method with a rump roast or brisket just to see what happens. I suspect the rump roast may be a little drier in the end and the fat in the brisket will make this a perfect cooking method. Generally I use a little water with my rump roast then drain before making pulled beef sandwiches, tacos, or empanadas. Each meat (beef, pork, even chicken) would also be great in a posole (soup made of meat and hominy).

A great frugal tip is to look for these cuts of meat when they are on sale: beef rump roast (a good price where I am is $2.19/lb which is comparable to ground beef) and pork butt (shoulder) (good price is $.99/lb). I can easily get 3 meals out of each and sometimes stretch them further. Whole chickens are also inexpensive and I'll blog about how to make it when I try it again within the next week.