Friday, December 23, 2016

Porchmas 2016

I have an amazing group of young friends that used to all live in this two-story house that had a glassed-in sun porch on the upper level. We had so many good times on that porch, that even though everyone has moved out of that residence now, we still refer to ourselves as "Porchlings" when we have our get-togethers. Likewise, our seasonal gift exchange and potluck is dubbed "Porchmas." Tee hee.

For my first culinary contribution, I made Pulled Pork Sliders with Homemade Pickled Green Tomatoes.

For the pulled pork, I marinated about three pounds of boneless ribs in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vegetable oil, sriracha, garlic powder and black pepper overnight. Then I browned them on all sides in a large skillet, placed them on the trivet along with a sliced onion over a cup of beef broth, and cooked them on "Meat" for 25 minutes. I let them sit for 10 or 15 minutes before releasing, then shredded the meat with two forks. I sprinkled the shredded meat with a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar, added a few drops of liquid smoke, a big tablespoon of grainy mustard, and a small bottle of spicy honey barbecue sauce. I served the pulled pork on Hawaiian rolls with homemade pickled green tomatoes.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
(Source: Garden Betty)

Bring the following brine (per quart) to a boil:
1 cup white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Place in a washed quart jar:
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, peeled

Slice the tomatoes to desired thickness and pack into the jar. Cover with hot brine, leaving a half inch of head space. Remove bubbles with the end of a wooden spoon or a chopstick, wipe the rim, and add a lid and ring (fingertip tighten only). Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Store in a cool, dark place. Wait 3-4 weeks before tasting.

My second potluck offering was my old standby, potato salad prepared quickly and easily in the magic pot (four minutes!), which I made a little more festive-looking by including some of my homemade red-and-green cucumber relish that I made this summer/fall. (It was the Year of Peppers and Cucumbers!)

Instant Pot Potato Salad

3 lbs. red potatoes (I peel mine, but you can leave the peels on if you prefer), cut into one-inch chunks
4 large eggs
about 1/2 cup chopped green onions (four large, ends removed)
2 tablespoons sweet relish (I use homemade piccallili or cucumber or pepper relish)
1 large dill pickle, chopped (and about a tablespoon of juice)
about 3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mustard (I like to use one yellow and one Dijon)
1 teaspoon ground celery
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
salt and pepper, to taste (I like to use Cajun seasoning for more "zip")

In a steamer basket over 1 1/2 cups water (I like to use 1 1/4 cups water plus 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to infuse the potatoes with some tanginess) put in the potato chunks with the whole eggs on top. Cook on manual/high for four minutes, then immediately release. Spread the potato pieces out on a cookie sheet to cool, and dunk the eggs into cold water until cool enough to handle.

Peel and chop the eggs. Mix together green onions, relish, chopped dill pickle and pickle juice, mayo, mustard, ground celery and granulated garlic. Toss in the slightly warm potatoes, using a potato masher or pastry cutter to create a texture like very chunky mashed potatoes, then fold in the chopped eggs. Season to taste. Chill thoroughly, then serve.

Cucumber Pickle Relish
(Source: Ball Blue Book)

4 cups chopped cucumbers
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped sweet red peppers (or hot peppers)
1/4 cup salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cups cider vinegar
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Combine cucumbers, onions, red peppers in a large bowl; sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water. Let stand two hours. Drain; rinse and drain thoroughly

Combine sugar, spices and vinegar in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Add drained vegetables; simmer ten minutes. Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes (15 for pints) in a boiling-water canner.

Yield: About four pints 

Lastly, for Christmukkah treats, I made three batches of the beloved matzoh toffee, so that I could bag it up as little gifts. And as we are going through a very early cold snap, I was able to use my own porch as a blast chiller for both the potato salad and the matzoh toffee before the party. Ha ha.

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