Tag Archives: Deep South

Recipe: Deep South-Style Pulled Pork Baps

29 Mar

Put Some South in your mouth.

I adore pulled pork. I am obsessed, besotted even, with it. Having driven along highways in Mississippi and Tennessee in search of it  and  prowled the wilds of Soho and Clapham (for Bodean’s, natch) to get my mouth around it, it’s fair to say I am gaga for the smoky, sweet, finger-licking gorgeousness of it. I never knew I could make pulled pork at home, or rather Josh could, and this is very dangerous knowledge indeed.

For my birthday this week (I hit the big 3-0!) one of my gifts was a slow-cooker and another was a birthday meal from him-indoors that was fit for a king. Probably actually The King.  He produced a platter of beautiful, sumptuous, pulled pork baps and you should too. They are tasty, cheap and crazily easy to make. So what’s stopping you?

To buy:

*you need a slow cooker   *1.5kg boneless shoulder of pork

For the dry rub: *1 tbsp black pepper   * tbsp white pepper   *1 -2 tsp cayenne pepper   *1 tbsp chilli powder   *4 tbsp paprika   *1 tbsp oregano   *2 tbsp dark sugar   *1 tbsp white sugar   *2 tbsp salt.

Lovely meat from Ginger Pig

For the sauce: * an onion, finely chopped   *2 tbsp Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce   *Half a cup of Heinz tomato ketchup   *2 tbsp mustard   *one third of a cup of vinegar – cider/white wine   *2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce   *2 tbsp tomato puree   *2 tbsp brown sugar

To serve: * lots of fluffy white baps or brioche   *creamy coleslaw   *a beer or some coca cola (to drink)

To make:

1. Make your rub by combining the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and mixing really well.  Wet the pork with water and then pat and rub the spices all over the meat.  Place in a container, cover with clingfilm and store in the fridge overnight or until you want to get cooking.

2. Mix the wet sauce ingredients and the chopped onions in the slow-cooker and then place the pork on top. Roll the pork around so the sauce gets into every nook and cranny.

3. Turn the slow cooker onto low and cook for at least 10 hours.  We popped it on before we left for work and it was ready  (and making the flat smell DIVINE!) when we got home.

Many many many baps.

4. If the sauce looks too watery then turn it up to High for a little while.

5. You can either serve it at this point or pop it in the oven at a very high heat to slightly burn the meat and caramelize the sauce. If using the oven then you don’t need to cook it for too long.

6. When you’re ready pull the pork apart with a couple of forks and pile high on sliced baps. Add coleslaw and a generous dollop of BBQ sauce (I like Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce of Bodean’s hickory sauce).

The recipe made a stonking 10 baps so if you want to make friends and influence people I suggest you don’t eat them all but share them with your nearest and dearest. Life will never be the same again.

(Recipe adapted from this one by James Holland, which he pinched from someone else).


Memphis Dry Rub Ribs and ‘slaw

20 Nov

Love Me Tender

It’s only been a few weeks since Josh and I were expanding our waistlines in the Deep South but our cravings for wholesome, beautiful soul food have not diminished one jot.  If anything my hankering for smoky sweet pulled pork or heavenly barbecue beans or killer rum cocktails or tender spicy fried chicken has only intensified.

This weekend we did the only thing we could do.  We recreated a slice of the Deep South in the Deep South of England, in Winchester.  We bought four fine racks of pork ribs at the Good Life Farm Shop put some Howlin’ Wolf and bluegrass on the stereo, made a dry rub and slowly, slowly slowly baked the ribs. Oh my. They were incredible.  Soft, hot and spicy, juicy goodness.  Perfect with creamy slaw.  Get the best ribs you can, put aside an afternoon to potter about in your kitchen, leave your airs and graces to the side and prepare to get smudgy and devour these finger lickin’ tender ribs.

To buy (for 4 greedy people):

* 4 lovely racks of ribs   *1/4 cup paprika   *2tbsp salt   *2tbsp freshly ground black pepper   *2 tbsp onion powder   *1tbsp cayenne pepper   *2 tbsp garlic powder   *2 tbsp soft brown sugar

*half a cabbage   *2 small red onions   *a few small carrots   *splash of white vinegar   *125g mayo   *50g salad cream   *pinch of sugar   *salt and pepper

To make:

1. Mix the various spices in a bowl.  Wash the ribs and place, still damp, on a baking tray.  Sprinkle and pat the ribs – front and back – with the rub until it appears moist and fully covers the ribs.  Any rub you don’t use can be kept in an airtight container.

2. In a pre-heated oven (150OC) bake the ribs for 3 hours, or longer if you like (just turn down the oven if so).  The ribs will be blackened on the outside but soft, pink and juicy inside.

Rub a dub dub.

3. Once the ribs are in the oven make your coleslaw so that it has time to soak together and taste extra special.  With a knife or a processor shred the cabbage, onion and carrots.  In a large bowl combine and mix them then add the mayo, vinegar and salad cream.

4. Season with the salt and pepper and add a big pinch of sugar.  Give it all a good mix and leave covered in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.  Tinker with the ‘slaw and add more mayo or seasoning as you like.

5. When your ribs are ready serve with a number of napkins or paper towels, a light salad (if only to make you feel a little saintly)  your ‘slaw and then beans or sweetcorn if you feel like it.  Enjoy.


Deep South America – Meat, meat and more meat

12 Nov

I really love chopped pork sandwiches

What did I expect from a roadtrip around the Deep South? Elvis, fried green tomatoes, Blues, smoky smudgy BBQ, jazz, Southern Hospitality, Honkytonks, mint juleps, NASCAR, Spanish Moss, Coca-Cola, Jack Daniels, juicy crawfish and a lotta lotta hog. Well, my boy Josh and I found all of that and more.

And yes we found some of the most finger-licking, lip-smacking, tummy-rumbling meaty goodness ever. Brace yourself. Your waistbands may expand just reading about it.

In Atlanta we drove to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack where we smelt the sweet, smokey BBQ before we wrapped our mouths around it. Fat Matt’s was everything a rib shack should be: a grizzled cool-ass band were playing blues inside the shack and we sat out front in the warm evening sun where for about $5 we got ourselves a chopped pork sandwich with a side of chips.  The pork was soft, juicy and drenched in the finest BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted. Simple, unfussy but uncommonly good, topped off with a chewy, sticky pecan pie, Fat Matt’s had us begging for more.

Another night in Atlanta we did a Drive-in double.  Before heading to Starlight Six theater to watch a movie under the stars, we visited Varsity, the World’s Largest Drive-In Restaurant.  To cries of “What’ll ya have?” and “Have your order in your mind and your money in your hand” we didn’t even have to stretch our legs and get out of the car as the bell-hops came to our window to take the order.  Deciding between “Walk-a-dogs” (hot dogs), “gussied-up-steaks” (hamburgers), and a “bag of rags” (fries) was pretty tough but I had greasy fries, pimento cheese burger and a frosted orange.  Stretching out in our hire-car and listening to the yawn of the 7-lane interstate outside of the window we chowed down on our dinner smiling all the time before tucking into fried pies in apple and Georgia peach.  Cheap, fast and wholly unique, I can see why two miles of hot dogs, 2500 pounds of potatoes are fried, 5000 pies and 300 gallons of chili are made from scratch daily!

Greasy goodness

From Atlanta we motored to Savannah, described as “a pretty girl with a dirty face” , the historic city drips with Spanish Moss, aches with mystery and sexiness and is studded with 22 beautiful, green squares.  We wandered from the Thunderbird Motel from square to square and then straight to a bar where we drank craft beers and rum and got tipsy like a true Savannah-ite.  Before sipping Key Lime Margaritas and Sparklebomb cocktails we had a sumptuous dinner at B. Matthew’s Eatery where Josh ordered a curried fish soup he quickly declared the best soup he’d ever eaten, and we noshed sweet potato fries and more pulled pork sandwiches (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself) and shared a British style bread pudding, yanked-up with a Bourbon glaze.  The waiters there were incredible, the bar historic, the riverfront location amazing.  They’re meant to do a mean brunch too.

Before reaching Nashville we drank sodas in the Smoky Mountains, sniffed sour mash at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg and ate she-crab soup and fried green tomatoes in Charleston (at the institution that is Hyman’s next to a table where Vanilla Ice once dined. Oh yes.) but the siren call of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash couldn’t evade us for long and soon we were tapping our toes to Bluegrass and dreaming of a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Hawt Hawt HAWT!

In Nashville we made like ‘Man Vs. Food’ and went to Prince’s Hot Chicken, a tiny faded shop-front home to cayenne-rubbed hot chucks fried to juicy perfection and served on a slice of white bread with a side of pickles.  A local legend, the shack serves mild, medium, hot and (what must be blisteringly) extra hot chicken to lucky locals.  We grabbed a giant soda and I ate until my ears rang.  The skin of the chicken was fiery hot, but smoky and good. Inside the bird the white meat was soft and soothing.  God only knows what would have happened if we’d ordered anything hotter than a medium.  Tears certainly.   As soon as he started eating his chicken Josh looked distinctly worried.  He gulped hard and stared ahead. “I don’t know if I can eat this” he murmured plaintively before breathing hard and ploughing on.  And we did it, we cleaned the plate. We may have been sweating and shaking slightly but we did it and it was incredible.  An experience like no other. Wowzers.

On to Memphis where asides from an emotional trip to Lorraine Motel to learn more about civil rights, a night’s sleep in the Peabody hotel where we saw those famous lobby ducks and a trip to Graceland to see just how Elvis lived we ate the finest freaking ribs ever. Yes, ever.  At Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, located in a downtown alley as it has done since 1948 and serving up 5 tonnes of their ridiculously fine dry rub ribs each week, this was heaven on a plate.

Damn fine ribs, yes sir.

For $17.50 you get a full rack and for $14.50 a small order. Along with BBQ beans and creamy slaw, this was show-stopping eating.  Smoky, sweet and with juicy tender pork falling from the bone, the ribs looked colossal on the plate but were soon seen off.  And you don’t need to take it from me, oh no, Bill Clinton, Justin Timberlake and Al Green love these ribs. The Rolling Stones got sticky fingers here.  Unbeatable.  As is Memphis.  From hollering at the microphone Elvis and Johnny Cash sang into at Sun Records to boozing your way down Beale Street and lunching at the Arcade Diner – this place has soul.

We checked out of the classy Peabody Hotel and jumped in our little Blue Nissan, put Memphis Slim and Howlin’ Wolf on the radio and raced past huge white cotton fields in Mississippi (until we were stopped for speeding by the Police) and then cruised more leisurely to  Clarksdale, the home of Blues.  Here we stayed in the most beautiful and atmospheric Shack-Up Inn, listened to sweet guitar and raw Delta Blues and resisted the urge to write on the walls at the Ground Zero Blues Club and I tried tamales for the first time ever.

At the intersection of Highways 61 and 49 where Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange to become a famous Bluesman,  there is a sign of a happy pig in a bowtie.  This is Abe’s BBQ shack which has been open since 1924 and serves smoky pulled pork, vinegary slaw and slow burning tamales, they are cornmeal and hog wrapped in corn husks and boiled before you unwrap and discard the leaf wrapper and dig in. Weird at first but slow burning indeed.  I can see why Robert Johnson wrote a song about them.

Smiling Hog

Before heading home we had a few crazy days in New Orleans, where we ate beignets and drank strong coffees for breakfast,  wandered amongst the beads and balconies of French quarter,  stroked snakes and made wishes at the voodoo temple and avoided the drunks and strip-bars on Bourbon Street.  We ate gator and drank hurricanes.  Wandered along the Mississippi and slept in a haunted house.  On Frenchman Street we ate till we burst and drank killer rum punch. We toured the swamps and saw alligators and turtles and felt the sun beat down and the sultry wind in our hair.

It was an incredible, delicious trip.  We met the friendliest people, listened to the most awesome music, drank delirium-inducing cocktails and filled our bellies with Lowcountry cooking.  I cannot wait to do it all again.



Coca Cola Cake

26 Jul

It's the real thing

Because I’m off on a Deep South roadtrip in a few week’s time (calling at Atlanta – the home of Coke, Savannah, Charleston, Charlotte to watch NASCAR, a night in the Smoky Mountains, Nashville, Memphis, Clarksdale, Natchez, New Orleans, a little town in Alabama and then back to Atlanta!) where I will be pulling much pork and sipping sweet cola; I decided tonight to bake my first ever Coca Cola cake.

I baked it, however, for Josh to take to work where they are holding a bake-sale to raise money for the DEC East African famine appeal and so I am yet to try it and decide whether or not it is tasty… fingers crossed.  I will let you know how it goes!

To buy (for one cake and at least six cupcakes):

Cake – *125g unsalted butter (and some to grease the tin)   *250g self-raising flour   *200ml Coca-Cola   *3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda   *1 tbsp cocoa, sifted   *300g golden caster sugar   *2 medium eggs   *125ml buttermilk   *1tsp vanilla extract     Icing – *3 tbsp Coca-Cola   *50g unsalted butter   *1tbsp cocoa, sifted   *225g icing sugar, sifted    Topping – *stars

1. Grease a couple of tins or 1 tin and pop a few cupcake cases in a tin whilst you bring the cola to the boil with the butter, and once this has melted stir in the bicarbonate of soda, which will fizz.  Set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 190Oc/ 170Oc fan/ Gas mark 5.  Combine the flour, cocoa and sugar in a large bowl, add the coke mixture and beat until smooth.  Whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and vanilla extract, then whisk this into the cake base.  Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and give it a couple of taps to bring up any bubbles.

3. Bake for around 35 minutes, or until the cake has risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Run a knife around the egde of the cake tin, pop onto a rack and allow to cool completely.

4. To make the icing, place the cola, butter, and cocoa into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking until smooth, then stir in the icing sugar.  It sets very quickly so carefully drizzle over the cakes before decorating as you like.

Let’s hope that this sweet and sticky cake raises oodles of money for a very worthy cause.