Tag Archives: barbecue

Barbecue Pulled Pork

I’m a barbecue fanatic. Kruegers are looked down on in my family for not asking for barbecue sauce with fries at a restaurant. There are 3 different brands in my fridge rightthisveryminute. I’m SERIOUS about barbecue. And luckily, there are others who share my obsession enthusiasm.

See, there are these guys in Bloomington called, affectionately, the Ribs Guys. More accurately, they are called Ribs Guys! because people are generally excited when they see them. The proprietors of a restaurant called Smokin’ Jack’s Barbecue have a stand at all the home football games (17th and Dunn!) and a handful of random Fridays and Saturdays where they sell ribs, smoked sausages, pulled pork sandwiches at great prices. You get the same foods they sell at the restaurant for in-the-parking-lot-of-a-convenience-store prices. NOTHING could be better. Meredith and I have a system where we call or text (in capital letters, obvs) to let each other know when the Ribs Guys! are at their post. Then we eat barbecue sauce-slathered ribs before we go to fancy military events. Because we’re normal.

The problem of course, is that it’s now basketball season and the Ribs Guys! don’t hang out at the food mart when it’s cold out. So I get a hankering for their food at inopportune times and figure out ways to make a version myself. Take this pulled pork for instance: take a cut of pork, some sauce and liquid smoke, a crock pot, and a wheat bun and you, Sir, have some heaven on a plate there. And it couldn’t be easier.


1 pork roast or pork butt
salt and pepper to cover
1 Tbsp liquid smoke (or mesquite liquid smoke)
1 Tbsp teriyake sauce (opt)
about 1 C barbecue sauce (or a mixture of multiple brands)

As I said, I like to use different sauces for different foods so I assemble an assortment. You can use any brand or type of sauce you like. (I also really like Tony Roma’s Carolina Honey sauce but I’m out of it at the moment.) This time I mixed Sweet Baby Ray’s (a classic) and Jack Daniels Honey Smokehouse with a little mesquite liquid smoke and teriyaki sauce. They combine to form a complex and smokey flavor.

Don’t I sort of sound like I’m talking about wine? Just substitute some words there and I’m a sommelier. For real.

This is so easy. It’s barely a recipe. You can use pork shoulder, pork butt or a lean pork loin like I used here. Rinse it if you want and apply salt and pepper over all sides. Pour the liquid smoke and teriyaki sauce in the slow-cooker. Add the barbecue sauce(s) and stir well. Turn the heat to high* and add the pork.

Brush the top of the meat with a silicon brush. I really hate using natural hair or wooden-handled brushes for this since, hi, it’s raw pork and that creeps me out. Slosh barbecue sauce all over the top and cook for about 5 hours.

*If you have more time, reduce heat to low or medium and increase cooking time. I only had 5 hours this time so that’s what I did but roasts taste even better the longer they are cooked.

Oh hello.

See how tender and succulent this is? It falls apart. Use two forks to shred the pork and separate everything into consistently-sized strips. And it really is tender enough for this. The only reason for a knife is to cut the long strips in half so you don’t end up with long dangley pieces.

When you’re finished, spoon all the sauce into a bowl and set aside. Dump all the pork into the slow cooker (set to warm or very low) and pour on the sauce. Depending on the size of your cut of meat, you might need more or less. You might also want less sauce on your pork. It’s all a matter of taste. So spoon or pour on a little at a time before stirring and testing to see if you need to add more. I used all my sauce (<-surprise) (<-sarcasm).

This will stay hot for hours if you are at a party or pot luck. In fact, I kind of can’t wait to make this for a pot luck or superbowl party. Everyone will love you when you make it! Serve on a wheat bun or roll and top with a little extra barbecue sauce if you want.

I won’t judge you. In fact, it will make me want to be your friend.


Not Authentic Chicken & Broccoli with Mushrooms

I’ve mentioned my never-ending problem called “what do I make for dinner? I only have…chicken” before. It’s a constant issue in our house–especially when Chad and I are both at work all day and don’t want to go to the grocery store. Sometimes I even consider ordering Chinese or Thai. Then I remember my bank account and try harder to think of something to make with that chicken. In the spirit of being a real American and bastardizing the cultures of other countries, I frequently make this Chinese and Thai-inspired chicken and broccoli dish with mushrooms and white rice. It’s yummy, easy, full of vegetables, and it’s a great stand-in when you just can’t let yourself order take out. But don’t let yourself even begin to think that it’s authentic. The last ingredient will ruin any semblance of authenticity.

(Serves 2)

2 large chicken breasts or 4-6 breast tenderloins
1/2 C jasmine or other white rice
3/4 C water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp fresh ginger
1/4 C white wine (dry is best but whatever works)
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp hoison sauce
1 Tbsp Open Pit BBQ sauce

Until you decide that I’m not at all worth listening to and decide to remove this from your google reader (no don’t!), please understand that I’m simply just plagued with an affinity for barbecue sauce. I have…four? in my fridge as we speak. I kick myself when I order fries in a restaurant and forget to ask for it. I just love the flavor and I can find lots of good ways to use it. I think of barbecue as a front-and-center flavor as well as a background flavor for other things–including Asian-inspired sauces.

And yes. I am going to tell you to brine your chicken again. This time, I want you to do it even if it’s not frozen. If frozen, heat a cup of water and put it in a bag with the chicken. Regardless of whether your chicken is frozen or thawed, it needs to marinate in the soy sauce for at least 20 minutes. This will give you time to cook up some white rice and change out of your work clothes or do dishes or look online for baby clothes for your boyfriend’s new niece or nephew. Or you can read about your favorite foodnetwork people. This time with the soy sauce is all about infusing Asian flavors into the chicken and the vegetables. It may seem expensive to go out and buy all of this stuff at one time (sesame oil, fish sauce, hoison sauce, etc.) but you don’t need a lot of each, it keeps for a long time, and you will use it all the time once you start making your own “take out” favorites at home. Think of them as pantry items.

Saute the minced garlic in a pan with the oil(s) over medium high heat. Pat dry the chicken and add it to the pan. Let it sizzle and brown and get delicious (Anne Burrell would be pleased with you). Flip when browned and cook the other side. Next, grate a tiny bit of fresh ginger over the chicken. The ginger adds a kick and an inherently exotic flavor, but if you aren’t much for ginger, leave it out. Now deglaze the pan with the white wine. Let this cook for two minutes before whisking in the fish sauce, hoison sauce, and barbecue sauce. Can you smell it? Doesn’t it smell incredible? Now lay all the sliced mushrooms over top of the chicken followed by the broccoli. Sprinkle on a pinch of salt and pepper and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the temperature at medium-high heat and let the sauce steam the vegetables for about ten minutes.

When you remove the lid the broccoli should be steamed to perfection. Stir everything together to get a thin coating of sauce. Serve over rice (we use jasmine or basmati rice but brown would be yummy too). Pour a little extra sauce over everything so the rice gets nice and flavorful too. Top with finely chopped peanuts if you want a little extra crunch!

Would ya look at that? So flavorful but still inexpensive and perfect for rural folks who don’t have access to all types of cuisine. Fun fact: those chopsticks were given to me by the father of a friend of mine, Ned, who owns a Chinese/Thai fusion restaurant in Huntington Beach. His father saw me teaching Ned how to properly use chopsticks (he never stopped using them like a little kid!) and was so tickled that he gave me some nice chopsticks just because. When I asked him what the engraving meant, he said “Hundred year good marriage.” So I’ve got that going for me.

In other news, we found out today that Chad’s older sister is having a baby BOY. We couldn’t be more excited. Chad summed it up today when he asked his brother-in-law “Can you imagine the kind of nerf guns they will have in six years?!” Awesome.

Pork Ribs & MY Rib Rub

Firstly, I have to say thanks to all the readers. I thought I’d have, oh, 12. But then I kept seeing the number of views for the day go higher and higher. EIGHTY-EIGHT views on March 7. Wow. Thanks, readers, for your interest and support. It makes me excited to blog and more determined to do a post every day (didja notice? I’ve been trying. No promises…but I’m trying). I’m thrilled to think that y’all are reading and even more thrilled to think you might try a recipe. Thank you. Now let’s talk about ribs. (Mom, don’t feel obligated to read this post.)

Every barbecue-lover has a preference about ribs. Some like beef, some like pork, some like spicy, some (hi there!) are too wimpy for it. Some are pro-barbecue sauce, some are strictly rub people. I’d like to say that I’m an equal-opportunity rib eater, but alas that’s not true. I simply can’t handle super spicy food and beef ribs are typically on the tough side and give me a stomachache. So I lean toward pork ribs and I’m a flip-flopper on the rub vs sauce debate. I’m really fine with both or just the rub. I always use a rub though, wet or dry, and I think fellow barbecue-lovers will love mine. I will say that if you go by regional barbecue divides, mine is closest to Kansas City-style. If you’ve never made ribs at home, do it!

There are just so many reasons to make ribs at home, folks. 1. You control the spiciness–a factor important to spicy and nonspicy people alike. 2. You don’t have to risk getting the lesser cuts of meat when you eat dinner late. Ever go to a rib joint and get the tougher ribs because you got there late? Such disappointment! Not so at home. 3. Possibly the most important reason: no one will care if you have barbecue sauce on your face, shirt, skirt, forearms, or in your hair. Messy eaters, enjoy. 4. You also get to make them for family and feel awesome. When you make delicious food, do you ever get so excited and proud of yourself that you walk around all puffed up and arrogant? Confession: I do. It happened most recently when I made my first batch of salted butter caramels. It also happened long ago when I first made these ribs.

1 full rack of pork back ribs*

Kristen the Carnivore’s Rib Rub (*This is plenty for 2 racks of ribs or 1 rack & extra)

1 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp chipotle
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
3 Tbsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 275. Stir all the rub ingredients together in a bowl. Smell it. Love it. Rinse and dry the ribs and sprinkle on a few drops of liquid smoke (or liquid mesquite smoke). This is optional but the liquid smoke is delicious if you are cooking these in the oven and not outside on a grill. Now apply one-third of the rub mixture. Use your fingers to press it into the surface. Flip the ribs over and sprinkle on more of the rub (you will use 1/2 of the entire batch of rub for one rack). Put the whole rack of ribs on a baking sheet with a long strip of aluminum foil on it. Wrap the foil around the ribs like a package and cook for an hour and a half.

When you remove the ribs from the oven, unwrap and toss the top of the foil. Flip the ribs over and cook for another hour and a half. This is so easy to remember, no?

When you’re done cooking, let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into individual ribs or batches. Top with your favorite barbecue sauce or don’t!

It’s best to serve this with, um, mashed potatoes and broccoli or mac and cheese and a big salad. I wish I could tell you that we did make broccoli. I wish I could tell you Chad didn’t make more deep-fried mushrooms. I wish I could tell you that. But life’s not a fairy tale and, um, I myself may have just eaten these with water because I added a little too much chipotle powder.

The point is that you won’t be tied to Tony Roma’s if you make these at home. Try it!