Monday, August 26, 2013

Brunch: Pulled Pork, Sweet Potato Biscuits, and Hatch Cream Sauce

So the title is a mouth full, but I couldn't figure out a way to shrink it down and not lose any of the deliciousness that is included in this meal.  I know I've said it before but brunch is my favorite meal.  I live for the days that I can spend a morning cooking something and the early afternoon indulging in it.  I'm always on the look out for that "perfect" brunch, and I think I may have finally found my holy grail of brunch.  But as fate would have it, what truly makes this meal special is the roasted hatch chili cream sauce, and hatch chilies are only available in Texas during August.  So this meal will sit patiently in my mind until I can get my hands on another case of hatch chilies.

Now I'll be the first to admit that you likely will not want to cook a giant hunk of pork shoulder (also called pork butt and Boston butt) purely for brunch.  I cooked the pork shoulder the night before for pulled pork sliders and saved half of the shoulder to use for breakfast.

There are several ways to cook pulled pork.  There is the fail proof crock-pot method that oddly enough uses some form of cola to cook the meat until it's falling apart tender.  There is the tried and true BBQ method, which involves smoking the meat low and slow for 12+ hours until it is falling apart and tender.  And, if you have the requisite equipment there is the sous vide and smoke method that I always use.

I've mentioned the sous vide in passing before,  but I have sadly never given my most absolute favorite kitchen gadget the proper posting it deserves.  But because it deserves its own post, I won't do it now either.  For now, suffice to say that sous vide is a method of cooking food that involves sealing it in a bag and cooking in a precisely controlled water bath.  The results are both outstanding and deceptively easy.

So for the pulled pork, I did the majority of the cooking in the sous vide.  I set my water bath to 175 degrees and allowed the meat to cook for approximately 10 hours.  The benefit with this method is that it allowed the connective tissue and fat to melt to nothing and left me with a sublimely delicious jous that I used after I shredded the meat.  Once my meat was largely cooked, I simply moved it to our grill/smoker and smoked it for an hour using mesquite chips.  This formed that beautiful smoke ring crust that you see in BBQ joints and it kept me from spending 12 hours tending to a fire.  I ended up with tender and juicy meat with a delicious smoke taste.

I'm not sure where I came up with the idea to pair the pulled pork with sweet potato biscuits, but once it was in my head I couldn't get it out.  I knew that the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes would pair beautifully the the smoky and silky texture of the meat.   After that it was simply a matter of finding something to bring everything together.  And I knew creamy roasted hatch sauce would do just that.

It is no secret that I have a deep and lasting love affair with the hatch chili.  It is so obvious that my dad calls me every summer to tell me that he saw the Central Market semis on the way from Hatch, New Mexico (which is near where he lives) on their way to Texas.  I really have no idea what makes the Hatch chili so special, but they are the most complex and robust flavored chili I've yet to encounter.  I spend an entire year craving the Hatch chili and always keep some stocked in my freezer to tide me over during my wait.

Pork shoulder is a relatively fatty type of meat so it generally needs something tangy or something hot to cut through that fat or your palate will be overwhelmed.  This sauce provides both.  It is both tangy from the greek yogurt and spicy from the chilies and is the perfect accompaniment to the smoky fatty meat.  And best of all, the sauce is deceptively simple.  Jason was stunned when I told him how few ingredients were actually in it.

So enough of my poetic waxing.  Can you tell how excited and how much I love this meal?

Pulled Pork on Sweet Potato Biscuits with a Hatch Cream Sauce


  • 2-3 cups pulled pork, cooked according to your preferred method
For the Sweet Potato Biscuits
Adapted from Key Ingredient
  • ¾cup cooked mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)
  • ⅓ to ½ cup whole milk, as needed
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • Whisk the mashed sweet potato and the milk in a medium sized bowl until the lumps are removed.
  • Using either a food processor (fitted with the dough blade) or a whisk, mix together the dry ingredients.  Cut in the butter into the mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  
    • I like to do all of this in the food processor and pulse several times.  It makes the process of making biscuits incredibly easy.
  • Add the potato/milk mixture to the dry mixture.  Pulse/stir the mixture until it begins to come together, adding just enough milk to create a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and shape the dough into a 1/2 in square.  Cut into biscuits using a biscuit cutter or a cup; I just use a cup.
  • Bake a 425 on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes until the biscuits are lightly browned.  Allow to cool slightly.
Hatch Cream Sauce

  • 2 Hatch chilies roasted and skins removed.  (If you can't find Hatch, substitute with jalapeno or serranos.)
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • the juice from 1/2 of a lime
Instructions: Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

To assemble, stack some pulled pork onto of a biscuit and drizzle with the hatch cream sauce.  Repeat and repeat and repeat.  You'll be happy you did.

I hope y'all love this as much as we did.  And let me know if you try it out!

Friday, August 23, 2013

And Then the Bar Exam Happened and I Started Life Again

Well, it's finally over.  I finally sat for and finished the Texas Bar Exam.  All of my answers and my hopes and dreams are with the Texas Board of Law Examiners and if all goes well I will officially and finally be an attorney this November.  And if not, I'll be leaving the country to become some kind of beach bum.
This is what I packed for lunch in my hotel during the bar exam.  Hopeless foodie.

The bar exam was one of the longest and strangest journeys I've ever been on.  It literally gave meaning to the phrase "living under a rock."  I really had no idea what was going on in the outside world for three months.  But it's over and aside from several (two this week) nightmares about either the test or the results, the bar exam is a distant memory.

The next three photos are from the 4th of July and the only decent break I had over the summer.  That lovely girl is my sister.

I call this photo, "These are a few of my favorite things"

Jason and I had the traditional post-bar trip planned but he started a new job and doesn't have vacation days yet so we had to cancel it.  I'm hoping to get something together soon.  He probably deserves it more than me after putting up my crazy self all summer.

We spent a Saturday afternoon at Rahr & Sons Brewery in Fort Worth, Texas.

So I had a about 10 days off after the bar and spent them largely laying around my house and watching tv.  I had "Frat Boy Friday" the day after the exam ended and it was probably the most glorious day.  I covered up all of the windows in my living room (totally adult like), got out my extra down comforter, ordered pizza at 11am, and spent the entire day watching tv (and a 4 hour nap).  Then I slept for the next 20 hours.

Central Market had the Hatch Chile Festival, which is my absolute favorite foodie time of the year.  Jason and I binge eat hatch chilies for 2 weeks straight and then crave them for the rest of the year.

I'm back at work and that's been an entirely new adjustment in itself.  As soon as I came back, I moved from legal clerk to associate attorney (sorta).  We work about 10 hours a day and I'll be wearing full suits pretty soon.  I didn't expect it to happen so quickly, but it's kind of nice to actually feel like I may be starting to arrive in the world.  It's kind of crazy though.  One day I'm wearing pajamas and eating macaroni and cheese for lunch at 5pm and the next day I'm scheduling client meetings and working on pleadings.  I wasn't thrown into adulthood; I was catapulted.  Ha.

I've started listening to instrumental jazz music and we got a cappuccino machine at work.  Boom.  Instant adulthood status.

School started last week, and that was kind of surreal.  I have been a student for almost my entire life, and to know that I'm not going back (ever) was almost mind boggling.  But then I look at my completely free weekends and congratulate myself that its over.

Now spending my nights reading my Kindle and drinking tea instead of spending them reading textbooks or hanging out at the Dedman School of Law.

This was last Sunday.  Jason and I had a picnic at the park and then laid around in the the shade.  He took a nap and I read a book.  That alone is enough to convince me that not being a "student" is awesome.

 I'm planning on revamping my blog over the next couple weeks.  Thanks for everyone's patience over this summer and I'm very much looking forward to more frequent posting!