You see what I did there? I teased you with the promise of foodstuffs and prose, and then I WENT AWAY for days without comment. It made you grow fonder, didn't it?
(You see what I did there? I insulted you. This is my campaign to keep my loyal following. Everyone's a sucker for a good old-fashioned tongue lashing. Don't be nasty. It's Lent.)
The beach house didn't have WiFi, so I was without Internet access, making posting an impossibility. But you've just been sitting there waiting for me, drooling on your keyboard, right?
Grandma, as a newly minted octogenarian, does have some dietary restrictions, so My Task—Saturday afternoon lunch—came with qualifications. The main dish had to stretch to feed 16, go nicely with the orzo salad, be healthy and light, and please some of the pickiest people this side of the Mississippi (no vegetables, fish, or fresh tomatoes).
My go-to solution in such a pickle? The sandwich. It is a universal truth: All God's people (and I) love a sandwich. Cooking Light was a no-brainer for recipes, because that addressed Grandma's cardiac concerns, but I also needed it to be something that would transport and reheat well.
I mean, come on. I don't ask for much.
I chose the Alabama Pulled-Pork Sandwiches with White Barbecue Sauce because the recipe blurb had handy dandy instructions for the reheat. Plus, it turns out picky people do like meat (and they call vegetarians high-maintenance).
I doubled the recipe, which required 2.5 pounds of pork tenderloin,
There wasn't a lot of fat to begin with, which was nice. I am not the world's most efficient butcher, which means that too much hacking away usually leaves me with half the volume of meat and a kitchen that resembles a crime scene.
I cut each tenderloin in half lengthwise, then sliced into big pieces.
Genuflect now, because you're about to be in the presence of greatness.
Le sigh. A gift from JLB, and maybe the prettiest thing in my kitchen that isn't moi.
This was its virgin voyage, so I filled it up with the stewing ingredients. Cider vinegar,
then brown sugar, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, ground red pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.
I brought that to a boil, then added the pork and attempted to take a picture without the steam fogging up my camera lens and the vinegar stinging my eyes.
This is what George W. Bush would call MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
That cooks for about an hour, or until you say, "oh shit!" and pull the lid off the pot because you never set a timer and can't remember how long it's been in there. MY directions read, "Simmer 1 hour, or until there are expletives."
I should write a cookbook.
Whilst the pork was stewing and I was immersed in not paying attention to it, I made the white barbecue sauce, which was embarrassingly easy. Light mayo, white vinegar, a king's ransom of coarsely ground fresh pepper, and fresh lemon juice.
I decided to leave the salt out at first, for Gramma dearest, but when I tasted it, it was just ... flat. It tasted like nothing. It was the condiment version of a Bill Maher punchline. There was promise in there, but the delivery was a mess.
Stirring in just a smidge (a pinch, Grandma, I PROMISE) changed everything. Suddenly this white barbecue sauce was Jon Oliver. Cheeky and adorable and suitable for company.
Then the shredding: time-consuming and tedious, but with a satisfying finish.
Yes, I made that plate. I might have been 2 years old. It was some sort of draw-on-a-paper-plate-and-we'll-turn-it-into-a-memory-you-can-eat-off-of situation wherein they transform the thing into melamine. I love them (I have two). They're absolutely indestructible. You can microwave them, throw them ... even use them as a sled if your bum is very, very small (mine is not).
The shredded meat goes into the braising liquid for transport before being served to an adoring audience.
Cousin BeFy asked me for the recipe, so I must have done something right. I used store-bought rolls because I didn't think the baked ones would travel as well. That, and the universe has seen fit to prove to me, once and for all, that I absolutely can not bake (come back tomorrow; I have evidence).
I didn't get a chance to take photos of the final presentation—I was too busy having an inappropriate relationship with MW's camera, which I now covet even more than my neighbor's ass. And he's a 70-year-old guy with a suspicious glare and a penchant for overalls, so that's saying a lot.