>How many containers of Ramen noodles did you consume at university? Or was bright orange mac and cheese more your poison? I ate more of both than I'd care to remember during my time time at York U. None of that for April Engleberg and Amanda Garbutt (below, left and right), creators of The Hot Plate, a brilliant online cooking project that helps students gain confidence and skills in the kitchen (www.thehotplate.net). This clever duo became a hit at McGill University and are now poised to take over the world with their fabulous online tv show and a book coming out this fall.
Amanda is the niece of my friend Jane Gill, a PR whiz and mother of two teenage boys. When Jane mentioned that Amanda was going to be making her son Henry's birthday dinner I asked if SPC could get in on the action. I don't think Jane and her husband Ben are ready for Henry to leave the nest quite yet but I'm sure they love that his cousin Amanda is passing along some culinary skills. And now I'm passing this over to Amanda and April.…
After a terrific move to Toronto from Montreal, The Hot Plate is ready to cook up a storm. And what better way to kick things off than with a birthday bash for Amanda's newly fifteen-year-old cousin Henry. Henry’s adventurous eating habits make him indispensable to The Hot Plate’s testing process. We were thrilled to have him help Amanda create one of the recipes from the upcoming cookbook The Hot Plate: Getting Steamy in the Kitchen on a Budget.
As most parents have realized, kids are the toughest critics in the kitchen. While our experience is limited to younger cousins and babysitting, we believe that half the battle is getting the younger generations involved in the cooking process. This way, they’ll be excited to gobble up the fruits of their labor.
We love our braised version of Pulled Pork for its simple prep work. The ingredients only need to be coarsely chopped since they are strained out after the braising time, and not using a BBQ makes it a safe activity to get the kids involved in. Pulled pork is a delicious and messy meal that’ll have kids, parents and friends laughing (undoubtedly with their mouths full of smoky pulled pork).
Serves 4 (very generously)
There are a few secrets to our pulled pork recipe. First, use a “picnic cut,” “shoulder” or “loin center roast.” They tend to be less expensive than pork shoulder and need a bit less cooking time. You can braise the pork in the morning; set it aside and 30 minutes before serving reheat with the reduced liquid.
6 lb pork (picnic roast or loin center roast), cut into 2-inch cubes
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, bashed but left whole
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
½ tbsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
½ can tomato paste
4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
4 large Kaiser rolls
salt and pepper
Garnishes: chopped avocado, limes, jalapeno, halved cherry tomatoes and 1 cup crumbled Greek feta
Season pork with salt and pepper. In a large pot heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Sear the pork pieces in batches until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Set the pork aside.
Add the onion, carrot, garlic and stir until softened and golden, about 6–8 minutes. Add the spices and tomato paste, stir for 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock. Add the pork. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover for 3 – 3 ½ hours until pork is very tender.
Carefully remove the pork pieces and allow them to cool slightly until they can be easily shredded with two forks. Cover the meat with tin foil and set aside.
For the braising liquid, strain the liquid into a new pot to remove all remnants of onion, carrot and garlic.
Preheat oven to 350F. Meanwhile, bring liquid to a boil and whisk in brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and jalapeno. Continue to whisk at a gentle boil until reduced by half.
Place pork in a cast iron pan or other ovenproof dish. Pour the reduced sauce over top and place into the oven until heated through, 20–30 minutes. This can also be done stovetop over medium heat.
Divide the pork between buns and serve with extra sauce and garnishes on the side.