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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Red Curry Coconut Pulled Pork

Coconut Curry Pulled Pork

Spring is in the air and flavorful, fruity recipes are on my mind! This time of year is always pretty busy for me, but spring of 2016 is proving to be especially crazy, mostly because I’m officially six months away from my wedding (yes, shockingly someone has stepped up to the plate to spend the rest of their life with me, who knew).

So I’m knee-deep in all sorts of wedding planning and bridal budgeting, while trying to juggle a day job, all my blogging projects, and SXSW, which completely takes over the city of Austin in both good ways (parties, events, and bands galore!) and bad ways (traffic, omg the traffic).

Basically, this leaves me with zero time to cook. The good news is, I have a slow cooker. And with a slow cooker, you cannot fail. Throw some ingredients in there, set it, forget it, come home from your job or event or meeting and you have a piping-hot meal waiting for you to devour. In this case, that meal is a mouth-watering, sumptuous pulled pork that you will be oh so happy to say aloha to after a long day.

Red Curry Coconut Pulled Pork

Of course, the ingredients you throw into that miracle slow cooker need to be good. And this recipe here is full of good stuff. We’re starting with a boneless netted fresh pork shoulder roast from Smithfield. This pork is the star of the show and it couldn’t be easier to prep. Literally go buy it at the store, take it home, cut it out of its net, and drop it in the crockpot. Done. No trimming, no chopping, no nothing. Love it!

Then you need some flavor to make your pork great. This is where the aforementioned fruit comes in. The pork shoulder is drenched in crushed pineapple and pineapple juice, plus a bunch of bright, island-y flair: ginger, soy, agave, sriracha, and curry paste come together to make a sweet-spicy-tangy sauce that is so perfect with this juicy, tender pulled pork. Oh, and you’re adding in some coconut milk at the very end for a little bit of creamy sweetness that takes this tropical pulled pork to the next level.

Even if springtime means “no time,” I promise this meal will come together in a snap and everyone will love it. Make sure to have plenty of sweet Hawaiian rolls and white rice on hand for serving!

Red Curry Coconut Pulled Pork

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What Is Your Government Doing to Protect Small Farmers from Big Food?

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It’s no secret that we ES-ers are all for locally sourced, minimally processed food. You may remember forkitude’s post about how big food conglomerates have an outsize say in what America eats. Clearly, we’re wringing our collective hands about such things. But apparently, not everyone agrees. I had an interesting conversation on this matter last week and received the surprising response that I was anti-business and a “borderline hippie.” I find it interesting how divergent food views have become and how efforts at improving the quality of food are often ridiculed or even worse, politicized.

Surprisingly, it appears our government may actually be listening. The US Department of Justice and the USDA recently convened a series of public workshops exploring corporate concentration and competition in food and agriculture. The five meetings, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, included discussions about the dairy, poultry and livestock industries and how corporate food is affecting small farmers and consumers.

While we do not know yet if these meetings will yield any real change, it was impressive to see how many small farm and community groups made sure they were heard. The big industry voices were not present, but that may be because they can relay their opinions through other channels (like lobbyists). Here are a few of the topics touched upon:

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