The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches and a Recipe for a Pulled Pork

The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches and a Recipe for a Pulled Pork

If you think that a sandwich is just a sandwich, then think again. Actually, first get your hands on The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, have a look through it, and then think again. Your view of sandwiches will never be the same.

It’s hard to resist the book by its cover alone, with a photograph of a teetering triple decker sandwich (The Dagwood) and the promise of not only recipes (110 in all) but “history and trivia for everything between sliced bread.”  How can this be resisted? Author Susan Russo lures the reader in with her irreverent writing sprinkled with snippets of trivia, and punctuated with drool-worthy photos from the talented photographer Matt Armendariz.

This weighty compact book is thick and juicy with recipes and nuggets to chew on, so to speak – just like a good Reuben Sandwich. I quickly discovered that a sandwich is far more than a lunchtime staple framed by sliced bread. Start your day with an All-in-One Breakfast Sandwich (with hashbrowns, waffles, eggs and bacon),  or finish a meal with a Banana Split Sandwich (a.k.a. dessert). There is even a British Chip Butty – otherwise known as a French Fry Sandwich on this side of the pond – which handily qualifies as munchy snack food. The possibilities are seemingly endless, and this book gallantly and informatively tackles the encyclopedic task of celebrating the humble sandwich.

Despite the impressive number and variety of sandwiches in the book it was easy to select my first recipe. Pulled pork is a family favorite, and I know that Susan is an avid football fan, frequently posting enticing recipes on her blog for spicy game-viewing fare. I was keen to try her recipe for a Pulled Pork Sandwich – knowing it would be a winner.

Pulled Pork Sandwich
Makes 8-10 Sandwiches.

Coleslaw:
12 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

8-10 cups pulled pork, shredded (recipe below)
8-10 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
Extra barbecue sauce for serving (optional)
Pickle slices

Make the coleslaw: Place cabbage in a large bowl. Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil in a small pot over medium – high heat. Reduce to a simmer and add oil, salt and pepper. Simmer 3-5 minutes. Pour over cabbage. Refrigerate until use.

Assemble sandwiches: Place 1 cup meat in each bun. Drizzle with extra barbecue sauce if desired. Top with a scoop of coleslaw and some pickle slices. Close sandwich and serve immediately.

Pulled Pork Recipe
Makes 8-10 cups

Meat Rub:
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder

1 (5-7 pound) boneless pork shoulder

Vinegar Barbecue Sauce:
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Tabasco
1/4 cup stone-ground mustard

Combine all of the rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the meat. Refrigerate the meat at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight. Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking.
Preheat oven to 250 F. Place meat, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Cook uncovered 2 hours. Raise oven temperature to 350 F.  Cover meat with foil and cook until internal temperature reaches 170 F, 5-6 hours. Remove meat and place on cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest 30 minutes.
Combine vinegar sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Shred the meat and place in a wide shallow dish. Pour vinegar sauce over meat and toss to coat.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by Susan Russo. Published by Quirk Books.

Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings

Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings


Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings

This week, I jumped on board a food blog event hosted by Jessica, who has the wonderful blog SodiumGirl. The challenge? To create a favorite salty recipe with low-sodium content. While this obviously prohibited the use of salt, it also required the use of products with no more than 40 mg of sodium per serving. I was eager to give this a try, but a little apprehensive, since I love salt.

It was quite eye opening as I rummaged through my refrigerator and pantry in search of ingredients containing no more than 40 mg of sodium per serving. I am not only referring to staples such as mustard, cheese, sriracha, ketchup, mayonnaise, even Greek style yogurt.  As I scrolled a database for more nutritional references, I discovered that many proteins have a generous amount of natural sodium. My goal, then, was to select a protein with a relatively low amount of salt and devise a recipe around it using low or no-sodium ingredients.

Happily, dark chicken meat came in at a respectable sodium level, with drumsticks and thighs packing 46 mg per serving. This got me thinking about one of my favorite salty foods best associated with bars and football games: spicy wings. So, I decided to try and make a low sodium version of spicy wings.

An important factor in making this recipe is the use of lots of spices. I rubbed the chicken with a blend of paprika, coriander, cumin and cayenne and let the wings marinate for several hours. Then I roasted them in a hot oven for an hour, basting them with a spicy sauce which was a simplified cross between a buffalo wing and a BBQ sauce. Normally a generous squirt of sriracha would play a role in a recipe like this, but weighing in at 100 mg per serving, I improvised. Instead, I  whipped up a basting sauce with Tabasco, tomato paste and brown sugar. The results were excellent. The wings were crunchy, sticky and spicy – just the kind of finger-licking appetizer I imagined, minus any salt. And you know what?  I didn’t miss the salt at all.

Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings

I use drummettes, which are the largest part of the chicken wing, because I prefer their relative meatiness. Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Wings:
3 pounds chicken wings or drumettes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-4 tablespoons Tabasco (to taste)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Spiced Sour Cream Sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of Tabasco
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro sprigs

Prepare the wings:
Whisk oil, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne and black pepper together in a large bowl. Add drummettes and toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. 30 minutes before roasting, remove chicken from refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 425 F. (210 C.) Arrange drummettes on a oven grill pan. Roast 20 minutes. Turn chicken. Roast 20 minutes more.
While the chicken is roasting, make the basting sauce. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and whisk in tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar and lemon juice. Keep warm.
Remove chicken from oven and brush with tomato sauce. Return to oven and roast 10 minutes. Remove chicken and turn. Brush again with tomato sauce. Return to oven and roast until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Serve warm with Spiced Sour Cream Sauce for dipping.

Prepare the sauce:
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.


Black Bean, Sausage and Butternut Squash Chili

Black Bean, Sausage and Butternut Squash Chili

I can’t help myself. I am on a soup and stew bender, and this chili is my latest rendition. This chili is a hearty stew perfect for the winter weather. It’s chunky and sating, packed with black beans, brimming with peppers and butternut squash, and fortified with spicy sausage. If you can stand it, let it refrigerate overnight before serving, and it will taste even better. This will warm you in the cold weather, and is a festive snack option for Superbowl viewing.

Black Bean, Sausage and Butternut Squash Chili

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound chorizo or hot Italian sausage
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cups butternut squash cubes cut in 1/2″ square
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 poblano pepper, membranes and seeds removed, cut in 1/2″ pieces
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 – 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 cups cooked black beans
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 scallions, white and green parts finely sliced
fresh avocado as garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in a stock pot or deep skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. When cool enough to handle, cut in 1/4 inch slices.
Add onion to pot and saute until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add squash, garlic and peppers. Saute 3 minutes. Add dry spices and cook stirring, one minute. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste and bay leaves. Simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in black beans, sausage, salt and pepper. Simmer 10 more minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning.
Before serving add cilantro. Serve in bowls with with scallions, fresh avocado (if using) and additional cilantro.

Nacho Night

Nacho Night

Nachos

It’s Nacho Night at our house.  Yes, I confess.  Foodie I may be, parent I certainly am, health minded almost always.  But there is a time and place for nachos, and tonight is the night. Is it possible to call nachos healthy?  I suppose, or, where there is a will there is a way.  But if you bear with me a moment, I will try to list the merits of a homemade platter of nachos for an easy, family dinner.  Or, rather, I will repeat the arguments my 13 year-old presented me with when he implored that we have nachos for dinner tonight.  I fell for it.

These nachos are meatless.  The chips are layered simply with grated cheese, green onions and black olives (deferring to the pickier sensibilites of my 10 year-old.)  Grilled under the oven broiler until the cheese melts and the chips turn a bit brown, the nachos are then served with bowls of homemade guacamole and salsa on the side.  Both of these sides are healthy, and loaded with veggies.  I have tried different chips and prefer a good quality corn chip, but if you wish to up the ante, Trader Joe’s carries Flaxseed chips. They are as equally high in fat as regular chips, but offer the added flaxseed,  and taste good to boot.  Finally, nachos score big in the social department: Great for a crowd, family friendly, fun to eat, and just in time for the Superbowl.  So, maybe not the healthiest, but they sure make up for it in the fun and camaraderie department.  These days, this kind of fun eating is a bright spot in our day.  Are you convinced yet?

Nachos with Guacamole and Tomato Salsa
Serves 4-6

12 oz. (350 grams) corn tortilla chips
3/4 lb. grated cheese (monterey jack, cheddar or combination)
1/2 cup pitted black olives, sliced
8 green onions (scallions), ends trimmed, finely sliced
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, stemmed, sliced thinly or 1/4 cup bottled, sliced jalapenos

On a rectangular baking sheet, or oven-proof serving platter arrange half the chips in one layer.  Sprinkle with half the cheese.  Cover with remaining chips in one layer.  Sprinkle with half the remaining cheese.  Evenly arrange olives, green onions, jalapenos over chips.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Place under pre-heated oven grill.  Grill until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve immediately with Salsa and Guacamole.


For the Guacamole
:
Makes about 2 cups

1 small red onion, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, grated, with juices
1/2 red serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 ripe avocados
Juice of one lime
dash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/4 cup chopped cilantro/coriander sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium sized bowl combine onions, chile pepper, garlic, avocados, lime juice and hot sauce.

100_1703

Mash avocados with a fork and mix ingredients together, keeping a lumpy consistency.  Add cilantro and stir in.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tip:  Guacamole can be made up to 4 hours in advance.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration.  Also, try putting an avocado pit into the middle of the guacamole to help prevent discoloration.

For the Tomato Salsa:
also known as Pico de Gallo
Makes about 3 cups

1 1/2 cups pasata or tomato purée
3 plum tomatoes, seeded, diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 sweet red pepper, cored, seeded,finely  diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
1 serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves
1 teaspoon dried cumin
Juice from 1/2 lime, about 1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salsa

Make the Salsa:
Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Stir to mix well.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Let sit at least one hour and up to 4 hours before serving.

Note
: The ingredients and amounts are a general suggestion.  Add or omit spices and chiles to your desired taste.