Thursday, July 8, 2010
'Soup Kitchen' Party with some help from Mark Bittman
Tonight we ran our own street version of a soup kitchen. It ended up that we had prepared a huge quantity of food, so off we went in search of those looking for a meal 'rescue'. On our street, with all the renovations underway, that is like shooting fish in a barrel.
One neighbour said a very quick 'yes' in the midst of all their chaos. They have a kitchen renovation underway, as well as other big tuneups being incorporated into their large renovation plan. At the same time, their backyard is being re-landscaped. To top it off, the mom was in Toronto for just the day and was flying in at 7 pm. Tired and hungry. Our 3 plus their 3 made 6. Another teenage neighbour was on her own since Mom and Dad were off to Bluesfest. Cook for herself or get 'adopted' for a few hours. Easy choice. Now we were up to 7. Another family in Kanata had no plans yet in this sweltering heat and saw our 'soup kitchen' as an effortless drive compared to solving the hunger of their 4. Now we were up to 11. Our customer list seemed complete.
This all started because the mister had seen Mark Bittman's 4th of July blog post for his No-Work Smoked Pork Shoulder dinner. A trip Produce Depot earlier in the day yielded him two Picnic Shoulder Bone-In Roasts totaling 3.3 kg at 3.46/kg. For $11.30 he was going to make a yummy little dinner. Except 3 people don't typically do in 3.3 kg of pork shoulder.
The teenager and the mister got right to the science of how best to use the hickory and the cherry wood chips to make these roasts sing smoke. And sing smoke they did. Two methods were applied. The one described in Mark Bittman's blog and then the second which was a holey foil pouch of soaked wood chips placed below the grill and directly on the heat. All in all, it worked well enough. No Big Green Egg or Traeger smoker required, though I am sure their results would be awfully sweet!
The pressure was on for me to fill in the side dishes. I guess with smoked pork shoulder it just seems obvious that one of those sides has to be coleslaw. I went with our latest favourite creamy coleslaw by Bobby Flay. It was a chance to use some of my CSA produce from Roots and Shoots Farm. I am now finished with my carrots and I substituted the Spanish onion with many finely diced green onions. I really like how the dressing has a heat from the dry mustard.
The family traditional potato salad came into play on request. I incorporated more of the green onions and also a few of the Easter egg radishes. In addition to the diced boiled red potatoes and Miracle Whip, I also add finely chopped hard boiled eggs.
And then a green salad to round things out. It was made with the usual suspects - mixed greens, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, avocado, the rest of our CSA green onions and then our remaining feta cheese just to kick things up. My dressing was EVOO, balsamic vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, a wee bit of minced garlic, a pinch of sugar and then ground black pepper.
(My dinner picture is a bit lame since it is before the second roast was carved. The plate here has only the crumbs from the first roast.)
The verdict on the smoked pork shoulder was that it was 'succulent, smokey and tender'. Some diners loaded it up on a bun and smothered it with BBQ sauce. No time for homemade so we used our President's Choice Smokin' Tequila Habanero Spicy Barbecue Sauce.
To keep it simple, our dessert was fresh strawberries and fresh pineapple, along with a latte from our trusty gal, the Rancilio Silvia.
There certainly was a lot of pressure when we knew we had food for a dozen people and no guests. But it always seems to work out eventually that after the word is out, to someone you are a godsend.