Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimiento Cheese

Sometimes you just want every flavor at once, you know? Late August is so hot and steamy that I can’t get enough fresh, fruity tropical flavors… pineapple, I’m looking at you! But it’s also hatch chile season in the southwest and these smoky, delightful lil peppers are everywhere, and everyone in Texas looooves cooking with them.

I had a beautiful Smithfield Teriyaki Marinated Fresh Pork Tenderloin and I was craving a Cuban sandwich, so I figured, why not incorporate the teriyaki flavors and give it a slight Hawaiian flair by adding some sweet grilled pineapple into the mix? Then I also realized I had a bunch of the aforementioned hatch chiles to use, and thought about how much I love spicy and sweet together… and decided to give my sandwich a Texas twist by whipping up a swiss & hatch pimento cheese spread instead of your traditional slice of swiss cheese.

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimiento Cheese

Then I realized that these were going to be HUGE flavor bombs and made them into little sliders instead of giant sandwiches, which was a great choice. (I also realized that making sliders meant I could use my very favorite soft Hawaiian slider rolls, and who doesn’t love that?) These Cuban-Hawaiian-Texan pork tenderloin sliders have so much delightful texture and flavor going on, little bite-size morsels are perfect. And while they might sound a little cray-cray, they don’t take all day-day (ha) to make. Even though they taste complex, they took me under a half hour from start to finish! Serve these alongside a cool, crunchy salad for a summertime dinner, or maybe as an app at your next cookout.

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimiento Cheese

Cuban-Hawaiian Mashup Pork Sliders with Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese

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Rib-tato Salad with Smithfield Pork Spareribs

Rib-tato Salad to the Rescue!

Rescuing what, you ask? Rescuing you from getting stuck in a boring recipe rut for your next picnic or BBQ.

Rib-tato Salad with Smithfield Pork Spareribs

I was recently hosting a big birthday cookout for Rob in our backyard and obviously meat was the #1 priority on the menu. Fortunately I had two racks of succulent dry seasoned pork spareribs from Smithfield on hand and I couldn’t wait to show off their deliciousness to all our friends. We smoked ’em on the grill for a couple hours and the smell had everyone at the party drooling.

Smithfield Pork Spareribs

We devoured some of the ribs as-is, straight off the serving board, but I wanted to do something a little more creative with the rest of the meat. I knew these smoky, sweet ribs would be such a great complement to traditional picnic sides…

Rib-tato Salad with Smithfield Pork Spareribs

A thought dawned on me. I was about to throw together a potato salad. What if I just mixed the rib meat into the potato salad itself? A little sweet, a little salty, a little smoky, a little chewy…. yeah, it was basically the best idea ever. To really play up the sweet and smoky, I added some sweet potatoes into the mix and garnished with BBQ sauce. It was a hit and I have an inkling I’ll be making this dish for plenty of upcoming potluck parties.

Smithfield Pork Spareribs

 

Rib-tato (Rib + Potato) Salad

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Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork - Skewers over Ramen Salad

Ultra-Easy Grilled Marinated Pork Skewers over Cold Ramen Salad

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In my world, grillin’ and chillin’ time is in full force. Austin is sunny and beautiful on a regular basis and the nights are getting longer and longer. No time like the present to fire up the ol’ BBQ!

Even though I love grilling on these nice warm evenings, I’m not a fan of marinating meat. I mean, yes, I am in theory, but let’s be real. I often forget until it’s too late and I’m already home from work and ready to start cooking. I don’t want to wait forever for my meat to marinate. Luckily I discovered Smithfield’s line of marinated fresh pork so my days of forgetting to marinate my meat ahead of time are over. They have tons of flavors available and once you bring them home from the store, you can head straight to the oven or grill.

I used some Smithfield marinated fresh pork to grill up some skewers at a dinner party with my friends last weekend and it couldn’t have been easier. It took us about five minutes to prep the skewers, six minutes to grill the skewers, and another five or ten minutes to throw together the salad (depending on if you buy pre-chopped ingredients or not). And the finished product was so good!

Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork - Skewers over Ramen Salad

I’m planning on making this over and over this spring/summer, and I suggest that you and your friends do the same.

Ultra-Easy Grilled Marinated Pork Skewers over Cold Ramen Salad

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Al Pastor San Miguel

Late Night Eats in Mexico: Pastor to Die For

Al Pastor San Miguel

You guys. Look. Look at that plate of deliciousness!

Okay, let me take a step back. At the end of the week I’m headed to Tulum (which, in case you didn’t know, is a little beach town on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, about a 90 minute drive south of Cancun). I’ve never been to Tulum before, but I’ve heard it’s a wonderland of beautiful beaches & cenotes, Mayan ruins, bohemian vibes, and great food. And yes, when I’m back later this month, I’ll be sure to give you a full report, especially on the food aspect!

While Tulum will be a new travel experience for me, I do know one thing I plan on eating a TON of while I’m there: pastor tacos.  Thanks to my visit to San Miguel de Allende (a gorgeous town in central Mexico, south of Mexico City) last year, I now realize how wondrous true pastor really can be. Pastor is a big late-night draw in certain parts of Mexico, and it’s so much better than the late-night hot dogs we’re used to in the USA. And sure, I’ve had plenty of al pastor here in Texas, but it is NOT THE SAME as the succulent, spicy, rich meat you find in Mexico.

The best pastor in San Miguel de Allende was at a little taco cart called Andy’s, which doesn’t open until after dark, so we’re talking late night treat only. And when I say taco cart, I mean taco cart. There’s a few little counter seats where you can get a glimpse of the action, but otherwise it’s standing room only. You walk up, order what kind of tacos you want and how many (trust me, never stop at just one) and then wait for your order to be ready and served up to you on a plastic plate covered in… more plastic.

Andy's Pastor San Miguel

So let’s talk about the composition of these tacos. The pork revolves around on a giant upright spit (think similar to a traditional kebap or gyro). The pork is sliced directly off the spit, fried up on the flat-top with gooey white cheese, garnished with traditional toppings (onion, cilantro, spicy salsa). You can also get pineapple or no pineapple. Some people have an aversion to adding the fruit, but I love it. You can see it roasting there above the pastor itself.

Just look at this glorious messiness… yes.

Al Pastor San Miguel

These pastor tacos are traditionally served on small corn tortillas, but you can also get “gringo” style which is basically the same exact taco, just served on a big flour tortilla. You really can’t go wrong either way! If you’re ever in San Miguel de Allende, Andy’s is definitely the place to hit up… they don’t have a website that I can find, but if you ask a local, they should be able to help you out. And as far as the best pastor in Tulum… well, I’ll let you know sometime in March!

Pork and Pesto Picnic Bites

pork bites

Woo-hoo for BBQ season! If there”s one thing we Simmer-ers love most about the weather getting warmer, it”s the opportunity to cook outdoors all day, every day, And as much as we like to do epic BBQ experiments, this time of year the weekends are filled with so many cookouts and picnics that sometimes we just don”t have the time to get super fancy-pants for every grill session.

When I had to make something super-quick for a BBQ/picnic party after work this week, I improvised with what I had on hand and came up with this winner, which took me about 20 minutes total.

I had one of these Smithfield Seasoned Pork Tenderloins in Teriyaki Marinade (I”ve previously cooked these up in the slow cooker and in the oven) but they can actually be quick and easy too, if you just slice up casino pa natet thin pieces of the pre-seasoned pork and throw it on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  Here”s what I did:

Pork and Pesto Picnic Bites

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Welcome Spring! (And Pork Season!)

cornbread

Even though it was only like 58 degrees in New York this weekend, it’s still the closest thing we’ve seen to spring yet this year, which means most of us did a classic warm-weather overreact, heading outside for picnicking, playing, outdoor drinking etc…before realizing that it really isn’t THAT warm yet. For me, warm-ish weather got me thinking about summer cooking, which in my house means BBQ. And since I was pretty much legally required to go out and enjoy the weather, I needed something I could basically set and forget.

I decided to make slow-cooker pulled pork from my Smithfield rosemary and olive oil marinated pork sirloin, but instead of loading it up with a heavy, wintry sauce, I relied on only a fresh tomatoes and onions to bring the flavor here. I started with a layer of onions at the bottom of the slow cooker, placed the pork on top, and sliced tomatoes above it all, so that when the veggies broke down over the course of a few hours, they developed into a fresh (but still quite porky) sauce.

Of course, there’s not much at the farmers market yet to herald spring, so aside from the aseasonal tomatoes I snagged at Trader Joe’s, I had to make do mostly with winter vegetables. However, I took it as my last chance of the season to play around with turnips – IMO one of the most underrated veggies of all. But I didn’t want the turnips to break down into mushy stew, so I added them close to the end of the cooking time, just long enough to soak up all that porky goodness. I served it all with a slice of Serious Eats’ cast-iron cornbread recipe.

Yellow Tomato Pulled Pork with Cornbread and Pork-y Turnips

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Endless Pairings: Negra Modelo

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Mexican beer and fall-themed food. The perfect complement? Well, that’s what were determined to find out when Negra Modelo sent us a “pairing kit” to put it to the test. When presented with the opportunity to taste test, my answer is almost always yes. Negra Modelo sent us a box full of spices from The Spice House, two tulip glasses, a wooden cutting board, and a $50 Visa gift card to purchase the goods. Challenge accepted. Think of it as the at-home version of Chopped. Being seasonal food fans (mainly fall), we began planning a menu of fall foods that would highlight the spices (follow The Spice House recommendations) and pair well with a Vienna (dark) lager. Yes – a European beer style from Mexico. Here’s the menu:

  • Aged Cabot Cheese with apples, fig jam, balsamic glaze, and crostini
  • Spiced roasted brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potato puree with nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Ribeye steak with Quebec beef spice
  • Cornish Hen with bicentennial seasoning
  • Pork with bavarian style seasoning

We had a friend over and made a beer pairing tasting menu. Negra Modelo was served with the appetizer, followed by a taste of each protein with the sides. The beer and food was judged based on the flavor of each, whether the spices complemented the food, and if the beer paired well with each “course.” On to the tasting notes:

Negra Modelo (ABV: 5.4%)

Appearance: Dark caramel with a red hue

Aroma: Sweet scents with subtle scents of toast

Taste: Sweet malts give caramel flavor, biscuit flavor with light herbal and earthy tastes

Mouthfeel: Clean and crisp with lingering sweetness

Overall: A pleasant surprise, Negra Modelo provides more character than expected. While it is an InBev beer, I can forgive that if the brew offers some flavor. For a lager from Mexico, it offers the basic profile of a lager with extra sweetness of caramel and a toasty flavor as well. Tastes like it would pair well with fall foods. So here we go!

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