Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The end of summer


The real end of summer this year wasn't September 21 like the calendar said. No, the real last day of summer was a sun-kissed Thursday in early October, a day so warm that I sat outside at a Starbucks, drinking a pumpkin spice latte in a sleeveless top, because the sun was pouring down on me so strongly that I had to strip off first my jacket, then my cardigan. I had somehow managed to book an afternoon off on the best day of the month. Smart girl, that September Me was.

Back at home, it didn't take much coaxing to get Chris to set up the patio umbrella and the cushions on the decktional one last time. He brought his computer outside (one of us was working, sadly) while I put my feet up, played on my phone, read a book and petted the orange cat who considers it a personal affront if we don't let him sit outside with us when we're there. Denied the opportunity, he will paw and wail at the back door for literally an hour, with short breaks to retrieve his breath (but never his dignity).

The best part of all was the luscious dinner we had planned, which proved more than simple to execute since Yesterday Me had cleverly applied a spice rub to a chunk of pork shoulder and left it to sit overnight. Early This Morning Me pitched in by chucking it into the slow cooker with just a splash of water and turning it on low for seven hours. By the time Current Me got home and settled in on the deck, it was ready to shred into meaty deliciousness. So I did. It was so luscious it really didn't need sauce, but we added some anyway, direct from the Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester, NY.

We applied the gently sauced pork liberally to a base of roasted Yukon Gold potato wedges and topped the whole thing with shredded Monterey Jack cheese which we melted quickly in the microwave. That's right: pulled pork poutine. For dinner. At home. On the deck, on the finest of October days, with a sweating gin and tonic riding sidecar. It was bliss. There is no other word for it.

Oh, it's surely something I wouldn't eat every month, and I think I can hear the pounding hooves of the extremely fit horses of the Food Police galloping in my direction as I write this, but in moderation, in those perfect circumstances, it was truly something awesome. Once in a while, I hope you eat something this rich and wondrous and satisfying. On your deck, in the brilliant sunshine that will soon be a thing of memory until May returns to save us all from the Forever Winter that is Canada.


Pulled pork "poutine"

2 pounds (1 kilo) boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp each cumin, coriander, coarse salt, ancho chili powder
1/2 cup of your favourite barbecue sauce
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

The night before:
Place the pork in a baking dish. Combine all the spices with the sugar and salt; rub the mixture liberally over the meat to coat. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. 

In the morning:
Place the pork and any accumulated juices into a 6-quart slow cooker and add about 1/4 cup water. Cover and set for 7 hours on low heat.

1 hour before you want to eat:
Set your oven for 425 F. Wash and dry but do not peel the potatoes (unless skin is green). Cut into wedges (about 12 wedges per potato) and toss with the grapeseed oil. Place in a metal roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 30 minutes, then uncover, toss to turn brown sides up, and roast uncovered 30 minutes more or until golden brown and slightly puffed.

While your potatoes are roasting, remove any excess fat from the pork and shred it with two forks. Place the portion you wish to eat right away into a mixing bowl and add sauce, tossing to coat. (Remaining pork can be stored un-sauced for up to a week.) Set aside.

When potatoes are ready, portion them out into two or four bowls (depending on how hungry you are) and top with pork, then cheese. Microwave each bowl individually for about 20 seconds to melt the cheese. Serve immediately (gin and tonic optional, but recommended).

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