Apple Cider Pulled Pork
Pigs love cleaning up the ground in an apple orchard. It seems fitting to simmer and serve pork and apple cider together. This is one of my favorite autumn meals, and it carries easily into winter. Busy with a day of hunting, stacking firewood, raking leaves, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or shoveling the driveway after a storm? Whatever it is that’s keeping you busy on these chilly days, Apple Cider Pulled Pork is the answer to “What’s for dinner?” It takes about 30 minutes total to prepare and then takes care of itself the rest of the day.
Vinegar in pulled pork doesn’t sound quite right but don’t skip this ingredient. It will help break down the pork so that it shreds well.
You can change up the recipe by adding shredded carrots, chives or green onions, or chunks of apple in the last hour of simmering.
A toasted sourdough roll is a great way to serve this pulled pork. The sauce isn’t as thick as a barbecue sauce so it needs a sturdy bread, or you’ll probably want to drain some of the cider before serving. Or, keep the cider sauce and eat this sandwich with a fork.
Sauerkraut, baked beans or coleslaw are great sides with apple cider pulled pork. Gundy, my co-host at On The Fire, didn’t have a slice of bread in the house. He cooked a fast-cooking rice in the unthicked sauce and serve the apple cider pulled pork over the rice. I can’t wait to try this!
This isn’t your mom or nana’s pumpkin pie. Oh sure, they make great pie, no doubt. This pumpkin pie is different. It’s untraditional. What’s an untraditional pumpkin pie, you ask? Yogurt, extra spice, half the traditional amount of sugar, and if you have them, duck eggs. Want to shake up the universe? Okay, not the universe but your pie? Use squash. I’ll pause here while the cheering and head scratching subside. Did you know a lot of commercial canned pumpkin is winter squash? If you don’t tell anyone they probably won’t know the difference.
If you’ve grown or purchased pie pumpkins now’s the time to bake them, remove the flesh from the peel, and use it in this pie! When using commercially canned (I do as soon as our stored pumpkins are gone) you’ll need one can. If it isn’t exactly 16 ounces but it’s close, use it. It’s close enough.
How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin and Squash
You can use any pumpkin but pie varieties are so because they aren’t stringy and tend to be drier. You cook fresh pumpkin by cutting it into quarters or thirds, whatever fits in your pan. If the pumpkin is rock solid you can break it by dragging a kitchen chair out to the road, climbing on the chair and dropping your pumpkin to the pavement. Please have someone take photos and then send them to me to share here. You may send your pie pics as well. I’m not kidding. 🙂
Scrape out the seeds, place in a baking dish with an inch of water, and cover with foil. You can also use the slow cooker. Roast the pumpkin or squash in the oven at 350° for 45 to 60 minutes. A knife slides through easily when the pumpkin is cooked. Scrape flesh from the peel. Simmer the flesh until excess moisture is removed.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
Gluten is a protein found in cereal grains including wheat, the traditional grain used for flour. If you’d like a gluten free option you can simply bake the filling as you would a custard.
Five on Friday!
Chicken Brown Rice (or Grouse)
Working full time, running a homestead that produces most of our food, hunting season and home renovations make for exhausting days. Having a simple one-pot meal like Chicken Brown Rice that requires very little preparation time is a life saver some days.
This recipe works well with chicken, grouse, turkey, woodcock and other upland game birds. I used to make this with duck but have decided I like duck prepared in other ways much better. If you use duck be sure to add it at the very end of the cooking time so that it doesn’t over cook. Duck should be rare or at the most, medium-rare.
Start with a 12″ pan that’s 3″ tall and oven safe. You’ll begin cooking on the stove top and then transfer the pan to the oven. Chicken Brown Rice starts simmer and ends with baking.
Carrots are my favorite vegetable to use in Chicken Brown Rice but others work just as well. Turnip or rutabaga are great root veggies you can use but I suggest avoiding beets because the discoloration of the rice is unappealing. If you choose a softer vegetable such as winter squash you need to cut them into large pieces so they don’t over cook. Brussels sprouts work well but broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are too soft even in large pieces.
Garden Fresh Salsa
I’m in the kitchen with Taylor this week while we use the seemingly endless supply of tomatoes and hot peppers. We’re using a variety of tomatoes – a plum-shaped volunteer, Luci (round, 6 oz), Juliet, Cherokee Purple and Bobcat, to make garden fresh salsa. The Bell peppers are a big, thick-walled variety called King of the North from Fedco.
German Extra Hardy garlic did very well this year but I had to water it often to keep it growing during the dry summer. This is a fairly mild garlic. If you’re cooking with a stronger variety you might want to change the number of cloves you use to suit your tastes. I’d have a hard time finding a dish with too much garlic for my liking.
Want to try something new? Add a pint jar of salsa to your chili in place of diced tomatoes. Drain the excess liquid and add a dollop to your burger. Steve likes salsa in Mexican omelets, and I love to mix garden fresh salsa with mayo as a dipping sauce.
Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup
Creamy wild mushroom soup is one of my comfort foods. You don’t have to have to pick wild mushrooms to make this recipe. You can find mushrooms in the produce section of most groceries and sometimes at Farmers Market.
I like to add a variety of mushrooms to one batch. Portobello, Lobster, Porcini, Coral, Shiitake, Cremini, and Oyster are varieties I think work very well. Lobster is a dense, dry mushroom, the only variety I was because it doesn’t absorb water. Skip Chanterelles in this recipe, its milder flavor will be lost in the mix, and it’s a little too special as far as wild mushrooms go to lose.
What looked to be a poor wild mushroom year took a turn in late August when we finally got rain. Chanterelles made a brief reappearance. Gray Oyster is growing on old logs in the wood yard. Scaber Stalk, Porcini (King) and other boletes are going crazy. I’ve never seen so many boletes, some nearly the size of a soccer ball. I’ve dehydrated and frozen enough to last us a year and they’re not done yet. It’s almost time for Matsutake to pop up, a mushroom I’ve not yet picked.
Pick what you know to be safe. Take a class or three. Learn from someone who knows mushrooms well. Until then, check out the produce department and farmers market to stay on the safe side.
Blackberry Bourbon Dessert Sauce
The thought of Blackberry Bourbon Dessert Sauce makes my stomach growl. I use the sauce on cheese cake, ice cream and apple pie as well as pancakes and waffles. Thicken the sauce a little more than the recipes calls for by stirring in confectionery sugar and you have a sweet and savory glaze for donuts, cookies and quick breads. This is fantastic over a lemon pound cake, muffins and sugar cookies.
To change up the sauce you can replace blackberry juice for diced fresh peaches, blueberries, cherries and other soft fruits. Fool around with the recipe to make it suit your tastes.
Originally, this was a recipe that called for whole blackberries but the dessert sauce was disappointing because of the seeds. I decided this week to give up on the whole berry and use juice. This is a nice dipping sauce for fruit and is an interesting addition to a cheese and cracker plate. Be creative! I’d love to hear how you use the sauce.
For a non-alcoholic version you can substitute apple cider for the bourbon.
Blueberry Bourbon BBQ Sauce
I’m a barbecue sauce snob and have no problem admitting so. At the same time, I’m not a bourbon snob. I don’t even love bourbon. Truth be told, I barely like it. So why blueberry bourbon BBQ sauce? Bourbon is a small portion of the recipe. It adds a lot to the flavor without being overwhelming.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t know that all of the alcohol will dissipate while the sauce simmers. Maybe, but I don’t know.
Maine is home to more than 90% of the world’s wild blueberry crops. I stopped at a roadside stand on Rt 9 and bought seven quarts. If blueberries don’t grow locally you can find them fresh in the produce isle when they’re in season or you can buy them frozen. If frozen, thaw them and let the moisture drain. I put them on a cotton dish towel and roll them around gently to get the excess water off.
I’ve had a lot of fun working with this recipe. Give it a try! Let me know how you change the recipe if you do, and what you used it on. I use this specifically on meat. I’ll be sharing fruit bourbon sauces that aren’t barbecue that you can use on meats and even desserts.
This makes a great dipping sauce for poultry nuggets and fish sticks.
I cooked half a wild turkey breast on the grill, slathered sauce all over both sides in the last few minutes, and gave it another minute on each side. We love homemade chicken nuggets and this was a perfect sauce to dip them in, much better than the standard ranch, blue cheese or sweet and sour dressings.