Pressure-Cooked Pulled Pork

I love kitchen tools. I have too many of them but I can’t resist them. This is why I sometimes refer to my garage as my personal Sur La Table.

Nowadays, I look for kitchen tools that can do multiple tasks. One tool that I didn’t have yet in my garage was a pressure cooker. I’ve had my eye on a particular one because it boasts of having 7 functions in one pot. It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute/browning, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer.

When I saw it for $40 off on Amazon on Prime Day, I bought it. Last night, I used it for the first time to make pulled pork and it performed beautifully! I suspect I’ll be using this kitchen tool quite often because it does everything in the same pot!

Photo Jul 27, 6 09 45 PM

Here’s the recipe I used for the pulled pork.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lbs of pork butt (or shoulder), cut into big chunks
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika

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Direction:

  • Season the pork chunks with the onion powder, garlic powder and paprika.
  • Heat oil in pot and brown pork chunks on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
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    Photo Jul 27, 5 55 14 PM
  • Add onions and garlic into pot and saute until onions are soft.
  • Add water and BBQ sauce to the pot and de-glaze the pot.
  • Put the pork chunks back into the pot. The liquid won’t completely cover the pork chunks. That’s ok.
    Photo Jul 27, 6 09 19 PM
  • Pressure cook at high psi (about 15) for about 60 minutes. This is what they look like when done.
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  • Remove the pork chunks carefully and shred with a pair of forks.
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I made quesadillas with my pulled pork last night. They were soooo good!
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You can adapt this recipe to make Mexican Pulled Pork too.

Here’s the ingredients for the simmer liquid instead of using water and BBQ sauce mix:

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium orange, halved (without the rind)

You would also need to add ground cumin to the pork rub.

Enjoy!

 

Short Ribs Pasta Sauce

It’s officially Summer! Summer means an abundant supply of delicious summer fruits and vegetables. This year, I decided to plant corn and squash in addition to my normal staple of tomatoes and peppers. Both my corn and squash plants are doing well. I only planted 2 squash plants but they’re doing so well that I’m harvesting at least 2 every other day.

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So what do I do with all these squash? Short Ribs Pasta Sauce!

This recipe is from a good friend of mine and it’s chock full of vegetables, perfect for kids who aren’t vegetable fans. Another reason why I like this sauce is because it can be frozen and defrosted without a sacrifice in quality. When I make a batch of this sauce, I usually freeze a couple of quarts for those nights when I don’t feel like cooking.

The long list of ingredients may make this recipe seems a bit intimidating but it’s really easy but worth the preparation effort.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb boneless short ribs (You can use boned-in short ribs too, but you’ll probably want to increase the amount)
  • 4 squash (I use either yellow squash or zucchini – whatever is on sale at your store)
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large can of tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed – whatever is on sale at your store, or you can cut up fresh tomatoes too)
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  • 1 14.5oz-can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 16 oz button mushroom (or crimini mushrooms), sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine, optional
  • 1/4-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
  • Salt and pepper

Note: All seasoning measurements are approximate so please adjust to taste.

Direction:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Season short ribs with salt and pepper and sear all sides. I used beef short ribs chuck steak in this picture since I couldn’t find boneless short ribs at the store that day.
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  • Cube squash, carrots, bell pepper and onions, set aside.
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  • In a large dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of oil until shimmering, then add 4 cloves of chopped garlic, onion, thyme from a few sprigs, pepper flakes and a teaspoon cinnamon. Stir fry for a few minutes until the onion is soft. Cinnamon may sound like a weird ingredient to add to pasta sauce for some of you, but it really does make a difference.
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  • Add cubed vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
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  • Add tomatoes, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon (if more is needed), and red wine.
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  • Bring to a boil then nestle the short ribs back in the sauce.
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  • Cover and place in oven for 2-3 hours to “roast”.
  • Remove short ribs from sauce carefully and shred using 2 forks.
  • Puree the sauce, then place the shredded meat back in the sauce. Stir to mix well. I use an immersion blender to puree the sauce.
    Photo May 30, 6 42 10 PM
  • In a separate pan, saute garlic and mushrooms in a tablespoon of oil. Season with Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Add it to the sauce and meat.
  • Add Parmesan cheese to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
    Photo May 30, 6 56 04 PM

Now boil your favorite pasta to al dente and pour this sauce over it. Enjoy!

Angry Birds!

It’s been a while since I made a theme cake. There’s a reason for that. I’ve decided a year ago not to do theme cakes anymore because it takes more time to make the cake than to devour the entire cake. So I now make theme cakes only for family.

Like most edible theme cakes, most of the structures or models used on the cake are made using fondant or gum paste. I try to steer away from both as much as I can because I don’t think they taste good, but sometimes, it’s inevitable.

I have found one brand of fondant though, that tastes decent. Some had said it tastes almost like a tootsie roll. The brand is Fondarific. The fondant seems to also be more pliant and workable, and doesn’t dry up as fast as those I’ve worked with, such as Wilton.

Anyway, I digress.

I was asked to do a theme cake for my nephew’s 4th birthday. He’s crazy about Angry Birds. I mean, really crazy. He has stuffed toys of the different angry birds and knows what each bird does!

My first thought was…. someone has to already have made those things as cake toppers. I wasn’t looking forward to making them from scratch, though I will if I have to. But lucky for me, they are available! So, I just have to figure out what structure I’m going to build on the cake and where to place the birds and the pigs. Yay! Job made simple 🙂

So here are all the in-progress pictures of the cake.

First, I made a “stone” platform where I’m going to place my structure on. I made a rice krispies treats using vanilla marshmallows and cocoa puffs. I did add a drop of grey to make it look more like a wall of rocks rather than chocolate.

This is finished structure that I was going to put on the cake. The pigs and the birds are plastic but the other pieces, the eggs, ice blocks, wood planks, and the concrete blocks, are made out of fondant.

The angry birds with the fondant catapult! 

The finished cake. The cake was a marbled cake with a custard filling and whipped cream frosting.

I had some leftover cocoa rice krispies treats so I decided to make an actual angry bird model to surprise my nephew.

Here are the in-progress pictures:

And he loved it! I don’t know if he’s going to eat it though. 🙂