5 Classic Regional BBQ Sauces

traditional bbq sauce recipes

 

Traditional BBQ Sauce RecipesIn BBQ and grilling, sauces are used to flavor, marinade, glaze, and as a condiment or topping for seared and smoked meats, especially ribs and chicken.

History places the origin of BBQ sauce to the first American colonies of the 17th century and can be found in recipes and cookbooks (both English and French) over the following two centuries.

Much like chili in Texas, these sauces were less about gourmet ambitions, and  more about masking the often off-putting odors and flavors of “aged” meat in a pre-refrigeration society.

The origins of these sauces isn’t particularly complicated, take the traditional tastes and flavors of the predominate immigrant population, add in the most similar ingredients that could be found locally, and mix with some good old American ingenuity, and you have the roots of a tradition that has only grown stronger and more popular over the last two centuries.

South Carolina mustard sauce, for example, can be traced to that region’s German settlers of the early 18th century

Ingredients vary widely even within states and counties of the American South, but most include a base of vinegar, tomato paste, or mayonnaise (or a combination). Liquid smoke, and spices like paprika, mustard and black pepper, and sweeteners such as sugar and molasses typically round of the recipes.

Here are five of my personal favorites…

Eastern Carolina Sauce recipeThis & Tangy Eastern North Carolina BBQ Sauce (my favorite)

  • 1 Gal. cider vinegar                             
  • 1 Cup crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. ground black pepper              
  • ¼ Cup fine sea salt

Combine ingredients, heat to a low simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Chill for at least 24 hours (72 is better) before using.

This sauce get’s better with age, which is why I make it a gallon at a time!

Pulled pork bbq sauce recipes

North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

In the Carolinas, the barbeque meat is pork, and the barbeque sauces are matters of hot debate even from one town to the next. Some sauces are thin and vinegary, while some regions add ketchup, or even mustard. This is the recipe I grew up with, and Pop’s recipe is still my go-to for amazing baby-back ribs.

  • 1 qt cider vinegar                                         
  • 12 oz ketchup
  • 2/3 C packed brown sugar                           
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • ¼ C lemon juice                                          
  • 1 Tbs red pepper flakes          
  • 1 Tbs smoked paprika                                 
  • 1 Tbs onion powder
  • 1 tsp each: black pepper, dry mustard          

Bring all ingredients to the boil, and then simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Allow to cool, and serve or bottle.

Traditional Kansas City sauce recipesMemphis-Style Barbecue Sauce

Slightly on the sweeter side, Memphis barbecue sauce has its own distinctive flavor, as well. Though the specific ingredients will vary from cook to cook, Memphis sauce is usually made with tomatoes, vinegar, and any countless combination of spices.

Memphis sauce is poured over pulled pork  or served alongside of dry ribs.

  • 1 Tbs butter                                                 
  • ¼ C finely chopped onion
  • 1 ½ C ketchup                                             
  • ¼ C chili sauce
  • 4 Tbs brown sugar                                       
  • 4 Tbs molasses
  • 2 Tbs yellow mustard                                   
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce                         
  • 1 Tbs liquid hickory smoke
  • ½ tsp garlic powder                                    
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper                          
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • dash cayenne pepper

Bring all ingredients to the boil, and then simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Allow to cool, and serve or bottle.

Texas Brisket sauce recipes

Texas Brisket Sauce

Texas is famous for tender slow-smoked brisket. Sauces are usually thin, spicy, and mixed with intensely flavorful pan drippings.

  • ½ C brisket drippings (defatted)                  
  • ½ C vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce                         
  • ½ C ketchup
  • ½ tsp hot pepper sauce (Franks)                 
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed                            
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • ½ tsp chili powder                                       
  • traditional Texas bbq sauce recipesJuice of one lemon

Combine all ingredients.

Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Allow to rest 1-2 hours, and serve warm (on the side) with pencil-thin sliced brisket and sliced white bread.

Note: I like to coat the whole brisket in gold sauce after rubbing with spices, and the drizzle with some warmed sauce just before service.

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South Carolina Gold Sauce

  • ½ Gal. yellow mustard
  • ½ Gal. cider vinegar
  • 1 Cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sea salt
  • ¼ Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. black pepper
  • ¼ Cup Louisiana hot sauce (to taste)

For each of these recipes, combine ingredients, heat to a low simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Chill for at least 24 hours (72 is better) before using.

BTW, I have a LOT more BBQ & Grilling recipes, for all types of cooking, over on my outdoor cooking blog, La Caja China Cooking

~Chef Perry 

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Perfect Pork Ribs in the Oven

Perfect oven pork ribs

Just because half of the country (and their grills) are currently buried in snow, is no reason to give up on ribs! And these ones always get rave reviews.

Firm yet tender, they pull off the bone with each succulent bite. For the sake of disclosure, I learned the amazing method from an episode of “Restaurant Impossible” with Chef Robert Irvine.

When I don’t have all day to slow cook my pork ribs in the smoker, this is my go-to recipe.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. To prepare the ribs, remove the silver skin from the back or under the rib side.

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Then rub the trimmed rib racks with my Burnin’ Love dry rub (see recipe, below).

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Place the racks onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and repeat with a second layer. Place in the oven (don’t panic, the plastic won’t melt at this low temperature) and roast for 2 hours.

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Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. The plastic wrap will have filled with steam and “puffed up”, I try to let the ribs rest until the wrap has completely collapsed.

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Now you have a decision to make. You can sprinkle the ribs with more rub (this is how I like them…), and serve them as “Dry Ribs”, or….

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Unwrap, place on a cookie sheet and coat with BBQ sauce (see recipe below). Roast, in the oven set to broil, until the sauce is caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the sauced ribs and allow to rest, 3 to 5 minutes.

BTW…if you CAN dig out your Traeger, here’s my recipe for that…

 

Finally, portion the ribs into serving-size pieces, and serve.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

1“Burnin’ Love” Dry Rub
¼ C sea salt
½ C light brown sugar
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
2 Tbs Italian seasonings (spicy, if you can find them.)
2 Tbs smoked paprika
1 Tbs coarse black pepper
1 Tbs ground white pepper
1 Tbs hickory salt
1 teaspoon cayenne powder

Combine all in a tightly sealed glass jar. Store in a cool, dark area.

Dirty Little Secret Sauce
(If you need a diabetic friendly sauce, try this one!)
1 C “Sweet Baby Rays” (Brown Sugar, or Sweet & Spicy)

1/2 cup Thai-style sweet chili sauce
1/2 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 C Coca Cola
1/4 cup butter

Bring all ingredients to a simmer, blend well and allow to cool. Best after 48 hours.

I also like to serve my ribs with our simple tangy slaw, Low & Slow Baked Beans, and my all time favorite Southern side, Maque Choux with Bacon!


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Pork Ribs on the Traeger 3-2-1 Style

Today I’m going to show you how to make perfect baby back ribs in the Traeger, using the 3-2-1 method.


There you have it…perfect baby back pork ribs, as easy as 3-2-1

RECIPES:

3-2-1 Ribs

  • 3 racks baby back pork ribs (about 7 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup “Burnin’ Love BBQ Rub (see link below for recipe)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup honey

Chef Perry’s Dirty Little Secret Sauce:

“Burnin’ Love” Dry Rub & Dirty Little Secret Sauce

Thank you for watching my video. Please feel free to like and share it!

Enjoy your ribs!

-Chef Perry

Home Chef Cookbooks

The Best Pulled Pork Sliders

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Okay, I like to cook with wood and charcoal, but I get a lot of emails asking how to modify my recipes to a gas grill (yes, I own gas grills) and even for the oven.

Some recipes just can’t be adapted, others can with decent results, and some…well, as much as this is going to tick-off the die-hards…some you can hardly tell the difference! Here’s one of my favorites.

Oh, and if you want to recreate a true “Southern pulled pork sandwich”, and really take ’em to the next level… be sure to add a couple of tablespoons of our Simple Tangy Slaw on top of the meat and sauce. Yeah, baby!

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Pulled Pork BBQ

(In the  gas grill, oven, or smoker) 1 Pork shoulder (6-8lb) Burnin’ Love Rub (see below) Basic BBQ Sauce (see below)

Rub the shoulder with spices. Set it aside for a few minutes and rub again over any wet spots. Keep doing this until there are no wet spots, the heavier the rub, the better. This makes the “bark” of the shoulder. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and fridge 12-24 hours.

Take shoulder out of fridge and let sit 60 minutes to bring the temp up.

 

For the gas grill:

You want indirect heat for cooking, you can easily do this on a conventional gas grill. Just keep the meat as far from the heat source as possible, or it will burn during the long cooking time. You want to cook this at 250 degrees Fahrenheit; you can go as high as 275, but no higher. You don’t want to go lower than 250, as you will start to dry out the meat before it is cooked.

Put the shoulder on the “cool side” of the grill, and  place a disposable pan with a couple of cups of apple juice underneath it to add moisture and catch the drippings. A spray bottle with 50/50 apple juice and cider vinegar is nice for basting, as well.

A lot of folks like to use apple chips, soaked, for smoking. You can add 1/2 cup to a disposable tin pan over the “hot” side of your gill, every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours.

Personally, I prefer to use a small, nearly indestructible smoke box, called the “A-Maze-N Smoker”. It’s a metal-mesh maze that holds your favorite flavor of smoking pellets, and burns slowly enough to allow a three-hour smoke without constantly having to lift the cover and let all of that precious heat out. It’s cheap, and I’ve used my dozens of times with no visible wear or tear.

Here’s a quick video I did on using this unit with my La Caja China, but the principle would be the same in anything from a gas grill to a Weber Kettle.

A-Maze-N Smoker Review

If you don’t trust your on-board thermometer, get a cheap instant read (or better, a digital probe) and stick the probe all the way through a halved potato. Set the potato cut-side down on the grill. This keeps your thermometer off the grates.

After three to four hours, remove the shoulder from your grill, and roast (uncovered) in a pre-heated oven at 225d for 10-12 hours. The pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer (you should really get one) the meat is done when it pulls apart easily with a fork.

Pork Shoulders

In The Oven

Follow the same prep directions as above. Pre-heat the oven to 225F, and roast the shoulder, fat-cap up, uncovered, for 14 hours (yes, I said fourteen. I usually roast mine overnight.)

Follow the “Finishing” steps, below.

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On the Traeger

Once the shoulder(s) are prepped, start Traeger on “Smoke” with the lid open until it’s cruisin’ (4 to 5 minutes). Set temp at 225F and preheat, lid closed, for about 15 minutes.

Place shoulders on the grill, fat-cap up, and smoke for 3 hours, spraying with a mix of apple juice and cider vinegar (50/50) every hour after the three hours.

Put shoulders in a large disposable aluminum foil pan and up the temp to 250F.

Roast shoulder for 8 more hours, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part, but not touching a bone, registers 190 degrees F.

If the skin starts to get too dark, cover it loosely with foil.

Finishing

Remove the pan from the heat, tent shoulder(s) loosely in foil, and let rest for 30 minutes. Pour the juices from the bottom of the pan into a fat separator. Mix broth (fat removed) with some salt and cider vinegar, to taste, and pour back over the meat after shredding. Allow to rest an additional 10 minutes to soak up the juices.

Serve either as sliders, or with a sauce on the side (see below) and some white bread slices to use as edible napkins!

Pork shoulder in smokePulled Pork Tips:

For “oven only”…before applying the dry rub, brush the entire shoulder generously with Stubbs (brand name) Mesquite Liquid Smoke, allow the surface to dry, and repeat. The apply the dry rub (while still damp.) Note: this is the ONLY liquid smoke that I’ll allow in my kitchen. For the smoker, I like a wood chip/chunk blend of 75% oak,

 

Perk’s “Burnin’ Love” Rub

(Shh…it’s a secret!)

¼ C fine sea salt
¼ C light brown sugar
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
4 Tbs Italian seasonings (spicy, if you can find them)
2 Tbs smoked paprika
2 Tbs coarse black pepper
2 Tbs hickory salt
1 teaspoon cayenne powder (opt)

Northern Carolina Vinegar Sauce

Personally, I think this very old, very traditional recipe is the best and only sauce for pulled pork.

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbs white sugar
  • 4 tsp, fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine all, simmer and cool. The longer it sits, the better it is!

But if you MUST have your thick, sweet, ketchup-based sauce…here’s a great one…

Basic BBQ Sauce (my cheater version)

1 cup Sweet Baby Rays Brown Sugar BBQ sauce
½ cup honey
1/2 stick sweet cream butter
Red pepper flakes to taste (opt)

Combine all, simmer and allow to cool.

NOTE: This makes a fantastic sauce for grilled chicken but replacing the honey with an equal amount of Thai sweet chili sauce!


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Lovely leftovers: Pork Loin Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Aioli

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Garlic Grilled Whole Pork LoinLast week I grilled up a beautiful whole pork loin for a 4th of July party. As always, I cooked WAY more food that we could all eat, so I was able to bring a 3lb chunk that baby home with me to make my favorite tacos!

This recipe can be easily adapted to use use leftover pork shoulder, brisket, or even grilled chicken (I recommend using dark meat).

You can also kick up the heat by adding a few fresh jalapeno slices when sauteing the onions.

Pork Loin Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Aioli

  • 2 cups cooked pork loin, 1in cube
  • 2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 2 tsp. Hickory salt
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 2 cups leftover Maque Choux
  • 16oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 2oz diced green chilies

Pork Loin Tacos

Combine pork loin cubes with seasonings, and stir to coat the meat. Add to slow cooker.

Add all remaining ingredients (above) to slow cooker, mix, and cook 4 hours on low.

Taste for seasoning.

Tacos

  • 8 flour gordita-style tortillas, warmed
  • 8 Tbs fresh white onion, diced
  • 8 Tbs Cilantro Aioli

Cilantro Avocado AioliCilantro Avocado Aioli

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 -3 drop hot pepper sauce, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 small avocados, peeled & cubed

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and mix until blended.

Cilantro Avocado AioliTaste for seasoning.

Chill before serving.

Note: If you chop the pork even smaller (1/4 in. dice) this would make an amazing taco dip, with warm corn tortilla chips!

Enjoy!

~Chef Perry

 


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Salt & Pepper Smoked Pork Belly

Belly

Texas Salt & Pepper Pork Belly

Recipe from “Barbeque: A Home Chef’s Guide.”

LargeSalt, pepper and a long slow smoke created an unctuous, amazing belly with an intensely flavorful crust.

Total Time: 7 Hours 5 Minutes     Yield: 8 to 12 servings

  • 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 4-5lb piece boneless pork belly, skin removed
  • 3 chunks of a medium smoking wood, such as oak or hickory

In a small bowl combine pepper and salt to make the rub.

Season pork belly all over liberally with the rub.

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Preheat smoker, grill, or La Caja China to 225F, smoking with oak or hickory.

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Place the pork belly in the smoker and smoke to 195-203F on an instant read thermometer, inserted into the thickest section of meat (6 to 8 hours).

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Wrap the belly tightly in butcher paper or foil, place in a cooler or oven, and let rest for 2 hours.

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Slice pork belly and serve.

(Save some to make my favorite Pork Belly Burnt Ends! ~ See my recipe in “Barbeque: A Home Chef’s Guide!)

Enjoy!

~Chef Perry

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3 Dinner Roast Pork Shoulder. Delicious and cheap!

Perfect Roast Pork Shoulder

I think many folks are intimidated by a big hunk of meat like a boneless pork shoulder, but in reality, it’s one of the easiest things in the world to cook. It also happens to be inexpensive, and delicious.

My favorite combination!

Here’s a three-dinner plan (for four), to make the most of that big hunk of perfection!

First and foremost, is roasting up a great pork shoulder…

Easy Oven Pulled Pork: Good to Great in 4 Steps

Now, once you’ve let that bad boy chill in the fridge overnight, you can divvy it up for dinners you plan to make immediately, or vacuum-seal and freeze portions for quick dinners down the road.

On to the recipes…

Cubano sandwich Recipe

Roast Pork Cubano Sandwiches

Pulled Pork Tamales

Pulled Pork Tamales with Southwestern Bearnaise

Easy Brunswick Stew

Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

Finally, here a new (to the blog, but an old favorite in my family) recipe, for a delicious, soul-warming stew that was built on making the most of what you had, in tough times.

Brunswick Stew is an iconic dish here in the south. Folks in the Georgia branch of my family tree know good Brunswick Stew when they see it and you best not mess it up! In the old days, it was usually an old, stringy chicken and a couple of wild rabbits, or fried squirrels (both of which are delicious, btw!)

This is a more “modern” version, that my father learned to make, as a young cook in Georgia. The slow-cooker touch is my own.

It’s…awesome!

Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

3 cups poached chicken, large cubed
3 cups large-cubed pork from roast recipe
2 cups pork stock
1 medium onion, diced
5 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
1 lb. frozen Butter beans
i lb frozen sweet corn
1 (24-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup homemade BBQ Sauce
1 lemon, juiced

Add chicken and pork, to slow cooker. Top with stock, onion, potatoes, beans, corn, diced tomatoes, bbq sauce, and lemon juice.

Cook on low 8 hours. Stir well, and let rest at least 30 minutes with the heat off.

Serve warm with Texas Toast & Sesame Cilantro Slaw!

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My Best Recipe (according to my wife…)

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Smothered Burritos (or “Wet” Burritos, depending on where they’re served), were born at a the Beltline Bar in Grand Rapids, MI, where it’s called the Beltline Bar Wet Burrito. Love burritos and enchiladas? With these delicious monsters, you get the best of both worlds.

The original calls for seasoned ground beef and beans wrapped in a flour tortilla, covered in red chili sauce and cheese. What makes this NOT an enchilada, is that it uses a flour tortilla, where an enchilada is made with a corn tortilla.

I like to swap out the ground beef with Carne Adovada (Mexican pork in red sauce.) I think shredded beef brisket would be amazing, as well!

I don’t make this dish very often, as it’s a lot of work, and not even remotely healthy. Still, once or twice a year isn’t going to do too much damage!

Chef P’s Smothered Burritos

1 batch Carne Adovada*
1 batch Spanish rice*
1 batch Easy Guacamole*
1 batch Pico de Gallo*
8 extra-large flour tortillas, warmed
4 cups shredded Mexi Cheese
1 Cup sour cream (plus extra)
4 Tbs Cilantro (finely diced.)

*Recipes follow

To Assemble:

Pre-heat oven to 350F

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Place tortilla on a pre-warmed plate and spread 2 Tbs sour cream down the center, leaving two inches of tortilla at each end. Spoon 1/4 cup of Spanish Rice over the sour cream, then, using a slotted spoon, add 2/3 cup of the Carne Adovada over the rice.

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Fold up ends of tortilla and roll into a burrito, keeping the ends tucked.

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Coat the bottom of a baking dish with Carne Adovada sauce, and lay the finished burritos on top.

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Top with 1/2 of the remaining shredded cheddar cheese.

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Cover with remaining Carne Adovada sauce…

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Then the remaining cheese.

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Bake 1 hour (place the baking dish on a cookie-sheet ~ you’ll thank me!) then allow to cool 20-30 minutes on stove-top.

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To Plate:

Coat each plate with refried beans, then top each with a burrito. Top each burrito with additional sauce, and dollop with sour cream,

Serve with warm chips, guacamole, remaining pico de gallo. Sprinkle all with cilantro.

Additional Recipes:

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Carne Adovada
1 C Pico de Gallo, below
2 lbs boneless pork picnic ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt
1 C olive oil
2 yellow onions
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp of chopped fresh oregano
2 ½ cups chicken stock
2 small can tomato paste
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp red pepper powder

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Trim pork of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

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Season the pork cubes generously with salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic.

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Mix in diced onions. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat and brown pork chunks well on all sides. 

Work in batches so that the pork is not crowded in the pan and has a better chance to brown well. Drain oil and dispose.

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Add the pico, tomato paste, chili powder, red pepper powder, and broth, stirring until blended.

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Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 2 hours.

Remove solids with a slotted spoon, and raise the heat to a high simmer, reducing the sauce by half. Remove from heat, add the solids back in, and stir. Cover and set aside.

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Spanish Rice

2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups long-grain white rice
3 cups* chicken stock
2 Tbs tomato paste
Pinch of oregano
2 teaspoons each: salt, chili powder, and cumin

*Check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice. They can range from 1:1 to 2:1. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice, then for this recipe, I use 3 cups of stock for 2 cups of rice.

Combine all ingredients in your rice cooker, and cook per cooker instructions.

If you don’t have a rice cooker:

In a large skillet brown rice in olive oil, medium/high heat. Add onion and garlic.

Cook onion rice mixture, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, or until onions are softened.

In a separate sauce pan bring stock to a simmer. Add tomato sauce, oregano, and salt. Add rice to broth. Bring to a simmer, covered.

Lower heat and cook 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff rice with a fork, and set aside, uncovered.

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Simple Guacamole

3 medium Haas avocados, ripe. Peeled and diced.
1 Tbs lime juice
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.

Fresh Pepper Pico

Fresh Pepper Pico de Gallo

5 fresh Roma tomatoes, chilled and diced
1/2 large white onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large orange bell pepper, diced
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
2 Tbs fresh minced garlic
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

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Restaurant Style Refried Beans

1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
(or, 2 cups canned refried beans + 1 cup stock)
1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons each ground cumin, chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Add all of the ingredients, except for the salt and pepper to the crock-pot. Cook on high for 9 hours (4 hours, low, for canned). At this point the beans will be tender and a bunch of them will have popped open.

Use an immersion blender to puree the beans until smooth. Add more water as needed, or if you’re feeling decadent add a couple tablespoons of butter! (Skip this step if using canned refried beans)

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

National Taco Day Recipes

The Home Chef's Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking(Excerpt from “The Home Chef’s Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking” Available October 15, 2017. This is the first in a series of guidebooks to delve deeper into specific topics discussed in, “The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen” – available on Amazon.)

It’s #NationalTacoDay, baby!

We actually made these last night (my planning skills being what they are) but I figure that’s close enough…

Here are my favorite recipes for “the real thing”, as well as an awesome “Gringo” taco!

Tacos al Pastor

Tacos Al Pastor

This dish, developed in Central Mexico, is based on shawarma spit-grilled meat brought by the Lebanese immigrants to Mexico.

You’ve never really had Tacos Al Pastor (roast pork and pineapple tacos) until you’ve gotten then hot off the grill from a street hawker in Mexico City, but these are a pretty darn good second, for a quick and delicious dinner.

  • 1 lb pulled pork shoulder
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks, divided
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 8 corn tortillas (6 inches), warmed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Warm the pork in the microwave until warm through, and the juices have liquified.

Coarsely shred the pork (if not already shredded) mixing with the juices.

Crush half of the pineapple with a fork.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the un-crushed pineapple chunks; sauté in oil 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned, turning occasionally.

Remove the pineapple from the pan.

Add the enchilada sauce and crushed pineapple to same skillet, and bring to a simmer; stir in pork and reserved juices. Cook over medium-high heat 4-6 minutes or until liquid has reduced to a thick glaze on the meat, stirring occasionally.

Serve in warmed tortillas with pineapple chunks, onion and cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.

Now, while you should definitely try the Tacos Al Pastor, sometimes you just want a good old fashioned “American” Taco (the kind we grew up with).

Here’s how Mom did it…

Gringo taco recipe

Best “Gringo” Taco Meat Ever!

This is my favorite “gringo” taco meat recipe…

Now, in all fairness these aren’t “real” Mexican-style tacos (which I love with all of my chubby little heart) but a “next level” upgrade to the weekly suburbanite special that I grew up on. Pretty darn tasty, too!

The big deal about this recipe is that it doesn’t include “taco seasoning” which, in my opinion, just makes everything taste like…well…taco seasoning. If I wanted that, I’d “make a run for the border.”

If I go to the trouble of buying good, fresh meat, I want to taste meat!

I like these best the old-fashioned way: crispy taco shell, sour cream, shredded mexi-cheese, chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes and avocado.

My wife and daughter prefer flour “soft” tacos, and once in a while I get a hankerin’ for some fresh corn tortillas from the local Hispanic market.

Hey, if you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 lb. 80/20 ground beef (none of that “lean” nonsense!)
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. Chili powder
  • 2 Tsp. seasoned salt (to taste)
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper

Mise en Place:

Dice onions, heat water, combine all spices.

Gringo taco recipe

Prepare the Dish:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook onions until just starting to brown, add hot water and simmer until all the water had cooked away (about 10 minutes).

Add the ground beef and ground pork, in chunks, cooking until it begins to brown. Using a spatula, or flat-edge wooden spoon, begin chopping the meat. Add the spices, and continue chopping until the meat is evenly browned and broken in to pieces no larger than 1/2 inch round. Stir, cover skillet, and remove from heat. Allow to rest 5 minutes, stir, and rest another 5 minutes.

Great for soft tacos, crispy tacos, burrito or enchilada filling, nachos, and taco salad!

 

5 More Terrific Taco Tips:

  • Always warm crispy taco shells (or tortilla chips) in a 250F oven for 5-10 minutes. Warming them releases the natural oils, making them crispier and tastier.
  • To jack the flavor up even more, skip the lettuce and cilantro, and buy a bag of “Fiesta” or “Southwestern” salad blend. Mix it up according to directions, and use it as you would plain lettuce in your tacos.
  • If you haven’t tried “Crema” (Mexican sour cream) you should, it’s bolder and more tangy than the regular stuff.
  • Like the taco shells, four or corn tortillas are MUCH better when warmed. Heat them in the dry pan, over medium heat until they just start to brown on the bottom. Flip and repeat. When the tortilla starts to puff up, remove and place inside a  folded towel. If cooking in advance, or in large numbers, wrap 10-12 of the warmed tortillas in foil, and place in a 150F oven to stay warm.
  • Lastly (and this is my favorite) I always mix beef and pork 50/50. Pork has tons of flavor, but is very dry on it’s own. Beef adds a richness, and the necessary fat. Together…amazing! This goes for meatballs, and meatloaf, as well!