Category Archives: Dressings and Sauces

Spicy Cashew Chicken

Spicy Cashew Chicken

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Spicy Cashew Chicken
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I spotted this recipe on another blog I happened to stumble upon called “Dinner, then Dessert”. She is calling it a copycat from The Cheesecake Factory but I haven’t been to a CF in decades so can’t comment on how close this was to that dish.

As with any recipe I see I look over the ingredients and will adjust the measurements up and down and also add new stuff. Like in this recipe I didn’t go as heavy on the hoisin sauce nor the sugar. I also bumped up on the heat side by adding more Sriracha. I also added a little fish sauce to give an extra umami punch.

Overall I liked this pretty well. As Jill put it “it’s full flavored” or “has a lot going on”. I used the full cup of hosin in my sauce but below I put the measurements I would use next time. It’s salty with a deep soy punch and while spicy it was also sweet despite me using less sugar that her recipe called for. My sauce was pretty thick and when it melds with the rice flour coating it turns from crunchy to soft which wasn’t a bad thing at all. I liked it. Also we enjoy a high ratio to cashew and chicken.

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts diced into bite sized pieces
1 bunch of diced green onions (separate the whites and greens)
3/4 cups of Cashews
Cilantro to garnish
Sesame Seeds for garnish
Green onions for garnish
Vegetable oil for cooking chicken
Brown Rice or your favorite rice or noodles

Spicy Sauce:
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
3 minced garlic cloves
Chopped green onion “white and light green pieces)
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce
1/4 Sherry Wine
1/4 Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Soy Sauce
1/4 Sriracha
1 tbs of Fish Sauce
2 tbs of sugar
1/2 tsp of Crushed Red Chili Flakes


Dry Seasoning

3/4 cups of Rice Flour
1 tsp of Kosher Salt
1 tsp of Black Pepper
2 tsp Paprika
Pinch of Baking Powder

Wet Batter
1 1/4 cups Rice Flour
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1 1/4 cups cold Water

Instructions
As with many of the Asian dishes Prep Work is very important because the cooking to serving time is often short. You are going to deal with two main processes 1.cooking chicken 2. making the sauce Start with the sauce by cutting your green onions and separating the white/light green from the all green parts. Chop your cilantro for the sauce but set aside some for the garnish. Mince your garlic

1. Sauce – Add everything to a pot on “low” heat. I mixed it all in a measuring cup and then poured it into the pot with the onions, cilantro and garlic. Again low heat as we are just warming it up at this point. IMG_0727

2. Chicken – Preheat (medium heat) a cast iron skillet with enough oil to coat the bottom. Make your dry seasoning and your rice flour wet batter and have them in two separate bowls. Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces. IMG_0725IMG_0726

When your oil is hot coat the chicken first in the dry seasoned rice flour. Then drop it in your wet batter. Shake off the access and carefully lay it in the cast iron skillet. It should sizzle. Be careful of keeping the coating light so it doesn’t splatter hot oil on you. Cook on each size for about 3 minutes until they are lightly browned. Leave room so that the chicken isn’t touching other pieces. When finished remove that batch to a wire tray to drain any access oil. IMG_0729

3. Chicken is done and the sauce is lightly simmering. Kick the heat up to medium low and get a nice boil or simmer to start tightening up the sauce. Make your rice. When ready to serve, pour your chicken in a large bowl and add your green onions, cashews and start coating the cooked chicken with the sauce a bit at a time until its coated well. I served mine over microwave rice and garnished with cilantro, green onions and sesame seeds.
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Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce

Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce
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I wasn’t sure what to call this dish but when I spotted the Trader Joe’s pesto tortellini I knew Jill would love it A creamy Parmesan sauce was a perfect complement. Adding the chicken made it a more substantial mean but certainly not necessary. Also when I make a creamy sauce for my pasta I love adding peas because they add a pop of sweetness and freshness.

Given I used packaged tortellini this is one of those restaurant quality meals that you can whip up in a flash. I used two chicken breasts but looking back I would just go with one because we couldn’t eat it all. For the sauce, I will try to remember how much I used of each ingredient but the more important thing for you to do is consider your tastes. Do you like a lot or light amounts of sauces? Do you like it thick or more loose. More cheesy or even use another cheese like Gruyere, swiss, maybe even blue cheese. hmmmm?

Ingredients for 2:
1 Package of Trader Joe’s Pesto Tortellini
1 tbs of flour
1 tbs of butter
1 cup of milk or cream
Parmesan Cheese
Peas
Chicken breast

Directions:
1. Let’s make some chicken. Season both sides with Kosher salt and Pepper. Put a little bit of oil in a medium heated cast iron skillet and cook it until done and make sure you get some nice browning. Remove your chicken and set it aside. IMG_0703

2. Turn the heat down medium low and splash in a little chicken stock or water (pasta water if you decided to cook your tortellini first, to deglaze the pan. Now add your butter and flour to get a rue going. Given the chicken bits are in your rue it will look darker but stir until you get a nice paste. Slowly pour in the milk stirring continuously. I let it thicken up a little bit and then added about a cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Again once you get your rue, you can make more or less sauce by adding only the milk/cream amount you like. If it gets too thick, add some stock, pasta water or even milk. Add your peas and your cut chicken breasts. Stir
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3. Cook your Tortellini until al dente. I chose to pour my sauce mixture over the top versus incorporating them into the sauce with everything else. The reason is that I have had some ravioli or tortellini bust open on me during the stir. I just stirred it while in my bowl.
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Mushroom Ravioli with Gouda Cream Sauce

Mushroom Ravioli with Gouda Cream Sauce and Chicken

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Mushroom Ravioli with Gouda Cream Sauce and Chicken
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Every once in a while you just hit it out of the park. Tonight was one of those nights. We have a Trader Joe’s that opened up near us. In North Texas there are weird grocery rules/laws that some idiot set up to try and keep a monopoly on our grocery stores. There is a beautiful loop hole where “specialty” stores are allowed to exist so we have some great stores like Central Market, Trader Joes, City Market and Whole Foods that allow us access to ingredients and food we can’t find in our typical grocery stores. Still pining for HEB up here.

All that to say, I picked up a few things from “my” Trader Joe’s and one of them was mushroom stuffed ravioli. Jill’s treads are getting pretty slick as she has a lot of stuff going on and working long hours and weekends. Tonight was the big deadline so I thought I would make something a bit decadent. I remember eating a ravioli I liked that had this Gouda cream sauce and thought I would try to make something similar.

This was amazing. I mean really really delicious if you like rich sauces. I added chicken to get some protein in there but it holds up without it too. Toothy al dente pasta stuffed with earthy mushroom filling and then topped with a salty and rich creamy sauce. My one regret was my plating. I should have used my rectangle plates and lightly sauced it and topped it with the Ravioli and then the chicken and mushroom mixture and then topped with the sauce.
The taste wasn’t compromised but it would have looked worthy of how it tasted.

Ingredients:

Trader Joe’s Mushroom Ravioli
Two bunches of green onion (only whites and light green)
Baby Portabella sliced
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 chicken breast cut into pieces
Olive oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper

Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs of butter
1 cup of Gouda Cheese
Black Pepper and Kosher Salt
2 tsp of Thyme

Directions:
1. Get your water boiling.

2. In a cast iron skillet on medium heat coated with olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper your cubed chicken and cook it and get some color on it. Remove and set aside.

3. Now take your sliced mushrooms, onions, butter and add them to the pan. As their water is released scrape your pan to dislodge all those tasty chicken bits. When soft add the garlic and turn your heat down to low. Cook for about a minute. Slowly add a cup or so of cold cream that will help lower the temp. Take your Gouda and break it up into small pieces and constantly stir until it is all melted. Add thyme, taste and season accordingly. I added the chicken back to the sauce at this point. IMG_0642

4. As your sauce is just outside of a simmer and is continuing to meld. Cook your Ravioli according to the package. Don’t overcook it. You want it firm and toothy. To plate drizzle some sauce on a plate and then place your ravioli and top with sauce mixture.
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Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich

Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich
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We hit up this fish joint occasionally for Po Boys and Fish Ceviche. It’s a total joint with picnic tables and waxed checkered table cloths on the indoor tables. You make your own Red Sauce at bar with all the usual suspects, fresh horseradish, ketchup, lemons, Worcestershire, Tabasco and Tampico.

Jill always gets the shrimp Po Boy and has me make her sauces nice and spicy. Topped with ribbons of thin cut Iceberg lettuce and pillow soft rolls. We sit and linger sipping beer and finishing our fries and saltines slathered with our spicy red sauce.

Jill was having a long and tiring week so I surprised her with my own version of a Shrimp Po Boy. I made a sauce that consisted of Dukes Mayo, Sriracha, Horseradish and Ketchup. I replicated the ribbons of Iceberg lettuce and made a southern style batter for the shrimp that was spiced up with some Slap Ya Mama seasoning. As a side I baked some fries and used my Fry Salt.

Ingredients:
Fresh uncooked, shelled and de-veined Shrimp
Fresh Rolls
Thin cut ribbons of cold Iceberg lettuce
Frozen Fries
My fry Salt

Shrimp Marinade
1/2 cup of milk
2 beaten eggs
2 tbs of Yellow mustard
Slap Ya Mama seasoning

Sauce
1/4 cup of Dukes Mayo
1 tbs of Ketchup
1-2 tbs of Sriracha
Horseradish to taste

Shrimp Breading
1 cup of Corn Meal
1/2 cup of AP Flour
2 tbs of Slap Ya Mama Seasoning
1 tbs of Old Bay Seasoning
1 tbs of black pepper
Pinch of salt.

Directions:
1. The thing that will take the longest is your fries so put them on a sheet tray and season them with my Fry Salt and bake according to the package.

2. In a cast iron skillet or deeper cast iron pot, heat oil on Medium to Med-High until it hits 375 degrees. Shrimp cooks super fast so basically you are cooking the coating more than the shrimp. If you want a darker and crunchier crust on your shrimp, bump up the heat a bit and cook in smaller batches where the shrimp doesn’t touch each other while cooking.

3. Take your shrimp and let them soak in your shrimp marinade to flavor and tenderize them. Before ready to fry, take the shrimp from the wet mixture and bump off extra wetness (oil and wet are not friends). Coat your shrimp in the breading mixture. I added them all slowly until they were all coated to the point they were dry to the touch.

4. Working in small batches, carefully load your shrimp into the hot oil. Be careful and consider using a tool to put the shrimp in the oil. These babies cook in about 3-4 minutes. I move them around during the frying process. Remove them and place them on a paper towel and then transfer to a wire wrack until you are finished cooking everything. IMG_0625

5. Mix up your sauce and cut your lettuce. Slather both sides with the sauce, add the shrimp and lettuce. Add your fries and you are ready to go.
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Coconut Curry Lime Chicken with Hot Broccoli

Coconut Curry Lime Chicken with Hot Broccoli

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Coconut Curry Lime Chicken with Hot Broccoli
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No surprise but I need to lose a little weight so you are going to get more waistband friendly recipes. I am not going strict clean/paleo or anything but more like weight watchers. It should be no surprise that more chicken, fish and veggies will be making the plate until I can button my pants with less effort.

I love green curry dishes that have that silky coconut milk with layers of green curry and vegetables. So when I saw a recipe for Coconut Lime Chicken it made me think of green curry. And when I read the ingredients, I spotted curry….sold! It doesn’t really taste anything like you might taste in a typical Thai green curry dish. The chicken is super moist and the sauce reduction helps carry that flavor to the rice. I also roasted up some broccoli as a side and used a little soy sauce and red chili flakes to flavor it.

Ingredients:
2 free range air chilled chicken breasts
Marinade and Sauce
1 can of coconut milk
1 lime juiced and zested
3 tbs of Soy Sauce (GF)
1 jalapeno sliced (seeds and all)
2 tsp of cumin
2 tsp of curry powder
2 tbs of olive oil

1 package of Rice
Broccoli
Soy sauce
Red chili flakes
cilantro

Directions:
1. Super easy. Make your marinade by mixing it all in a bag and add your chicken breasts. Marinate it overnight or at least for several hours.

2. Heat up your grill and grill pan to a medium high heat (300-400). Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off the excess sauce/marinade. IMG_0510

3. Take the marinade and sauce and put it in a small pan and heat to a simmer. This can freak some people out but by getting it a boil and letting it simmer will kill the bacteria. IMG_0507

4. Preheat your oven to 350. Cut your Broccoli into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle a little soy sauce on them along with red chili flakes. Roast them for about 20 minutes while your chicken is grilling. IMG_0508

5. While your chicken is resting after it is cooked. Make your 90 minute rice in the microwave I cut the chicken and then poured the sauce over the rice and chicken. I garnished with cilantro.
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Jalapeno Bottle Caps with Ranch

Jalapeno Bottle Caps with Ranch

  • Servings: na
  • Difficulty: easy
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Jalapeno Bottle Caps with Ranch
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Fried pickles and jalapenos elbowed their way into the scene to offer another option to accompany your favorite burger or dog. I took a group of colleagues to the Katy Trail Ice House while they were in town for a meeting. I ordered a bunch of appetizers and the jalapeno’s were a hit. Surprising that many of them have never had them before. I guess they don’t realize that in the south fried- anything is possible.

The other night Jill wanted a cheeseburger so i figured I would try making these to surprise her. Super easy all you need is a batter, jar of pickled jalapenos and some oil. You get the tang of the pickling, heat from the jalapeno and complemented with the creamy ranch dressing. If you don’t appreciate the heat you can substitute the jalapenos with pickles.

Ingredients:
Fry Seasoning https://whiskeynwry.com/?s=Fry+Seasoning
1 cup of Self Rising flour
1 cup of beer
1 jar of pickled jalapenos
Oil for frying
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (packet made with buttermilk)

Directions:
1. Heat your vegetable oil up to medium to medium high heat.

2. Drain your pickled jalapenos and pat them dry with a paper towel.

3. For the beer batter I poured the flour into a bowl and seasoned it with my fry seasoning. Slowly mix in the beer until it has the consistency is between queso and pudding. I poured all my jalapenos into the dredge and dropped them into the oil by hand (one at a time). Use your spider to move them around and turn them over. When done remove and place them on a paper towel and/or wire rack.
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Utah-like Fry Sauce

Utah-like Fry Sauce
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There is a chain of burger joints in Utah called the”Artic Circle” who claims to have invented the sauce in 1948. The goal of the sauce was to create a thinner thousand island type sauce. So instead of diced pickles, pickle juice is used to impart that pickle flavor. It really is a nice fry sauce. Nice balance of sweet and tang. I have seen recipes that use ranch dressing versus straight mayo. Sounds interesting.

Here is how I made mine.
1/2 cup Duke’s Mayo
1/4 cup Ketchup
1-2 tbs of Pickle Juice
1 tsp onion powder
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
Dash of Tabasco

Combine the ketchup and mayo until pink. Then add the rest slowly, tasting along the way to get it to click with your taste buds.

Asian Chicken Noodle Kale Salad

Asian Chicken Noodle Kale

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Asian Chicken Noodle Kale Salad
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We were watching Ree, the Pioneer Woman, the other day and her show was about using foods that represented the colors of summer. We hear all the time that foods that are colorful have more health benefits. Of course Kale makes an appearance because it is “such the thing to eat these days”. Truth be told I love collard and mustard greens more than Kale. I find it tough and too chewy so I cut it finely and use it as a supporting character vs the lead of my dishes. Maybe it’s a bit mental too, because the Kale zealots can really be annoying and I tend to have allergies towards people who take a food too far.

I took Ree’s idea and recipe and used it as my foundation. I marinated two chicken breasts overnight in soy and rice wine vinegar. The next day I hammered the to a consistent thickness and grilled them outside until done. I let them rest and sliced thinly and included them on the side of my salad.

Red Cabbage, carrots and Kale have a lot of structure but I found that the “dressing” mellows the stark rawness The flavors were terrific with blends of soy, Sriracha, garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce and hints of fish sauce and sesame oil. Really a nice healthy salad that can easily be converted to Paleo, Clean, Whole30 etc..

Ingredients:
2 free range chicken breasts
3 tbs of GF Soy
3 tbs of Rice Wine Vinegar

Salad
Pre-packaged Kale salad
1 small head of shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup of pre-shredded carrots
1 red pepper sliced thinly
Angel Hair Pasta for two (cooked and cooled)
handful of peanuts rough chopped
4 green onions (minced)
Handful of Cilantro (rough chopped)

Dressing
1/4 cup of Hoisin Sauce
1/3 cup of GF Soy Sauce
1/4 cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tbs of Sriracha Sauce
1 tsp of Fish Sauce
2 tsp of Sesame Oil
1 tsp of Chili oil
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
2 tbs of Brown Sugar
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbs of ginger minced

Directions
1. Marinate your chicken at least 3 hours and up to overnight in soy and rice wine vinegar.

2. Get your grill fired up to about 350-400 degrees. Put your chicken on the grill and while it is cooking get to chopping your veggies and dressing. IMG_0369

3. Make your dressing by mincing your garlic and ginger and then add the rest. Whisk it violently until it is well combined. Put it in the fridge and chop your veggies.

4. Boil your angel hair pasta (or any noodle you prefer) to package directions. When done, strain them and run cool water over them to cool them off.

5. So now you have your chicken chopped, your veggies chopped and in a large bowl, your dressing ready, your noodles ready and your rough chopped peanuts. Pour half the dressing into the veggies and toss them until well coated. Slowly stir in your cooked noodles. Taste it and dress accordingly (you can always add more dressing but you can’t undress and overdressed salad) I put a little dressing on my grilled chopped chicken and served it on the side of my salad so that I could control my protein/veggie bites.
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Grilled Chicken and Corn Quesadillas with Pesto Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

Grilled Chicken and Corn Quesadillas with Pesto Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Grilled Chicken and Corn Quesadillas with Pesto Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
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Recently I saw a recipe for Chicken, corn and caramelized onion quesadillas. So I was thinking about it while at the grocery store when I saw their fresh corn. I didn’t want to spend the time caramelizing the onions so I went with fresh green onions. I decided to also make a pesto dipping sauce with avocado, sour cream, lime juice and pesto. Tangy, herbaceous and creamy.

The grilled chicken and corn gave the quesadilla a sweet and savory combo. I also used a mix of Monterrey Jack cheese because it melts so well but to bump up the tang I sprinkled in some goat cheese.

We loved how these turned out. Crunch outside with creamy chicken, corn, onion, cilantro swimming in melted cheeses. The dipping sauce was tangy with the lime juice but complimented the cilantro with the pesto. This would be great for a party or gathering and would also make a filling appetizer or a meal. It’s a great way to amplify your typical cheese and chicken quesadilla.

Ingredients

4 flour tortillas
2 chicken breasts
2 green onions
handful of cilantro
1.5 cup of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 tbs of goat cheese
Penzey’s Fajita Seasoning

Sauce
1/4 quarter cup of sour cream
Juice of 1 small lime
1 tbs of green pesto (store bought)
1 avocado
Dash of cayenne


Directions:

1. Make your sauce by combining everything in a bowl and mash the avocado until smooth. Mix, taste and adjust accordingly. Put in the fridge until ready to serve. IMG_0358

2. Fire up your grill and let it get to about 375 or 400 degrees. While your grill is heating up, take your chicken breasts and trim them. Then cover in plastic wrap and pound them until they are consistently the same thickness. This makes for even grilling. I dusted them with Kosher salt and Penzey’s Fajita seasoning. Now put your corn and chicken on the grill. Close it and walk away for about 6 minutes. Rotate corn and flip chicken when you get nice marks on it. When done bring in to rest.

3. While my chicken and corn were resting, I cut my green onions and cilantro and shredded the Monterrey Jack cheese. So now all I need to do is cut the corn and chicken and assemble.

4. Now for the assembly. Mont Jack and onions down and then the chicken.
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Add cilantro, corn and goat cheese.
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4. Heat a non stick pan large enough to cook your tortilla. Put a little butter down on medium heat and put your base down and top it with the second tortilla. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until the cheese melts and you get a nice crunch on your tortilla. Butter, flip and do the second side. Cut and serve with your sauce.
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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Potato Salad

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Potato Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Despite being from Texas and biased towards beef BBQ, I enjoy pulled pork with tangy sauce equally as much. I actually tend to eat it more often than beef. Given it’s just the two of us I used a cut of of tenderloin over the Pork Butt which has much more fat and flavor. After about 6 or 7 hours in the crock pot this beauty is falling apart at the slightest attempt to turn it or remove it.

So before sandwich assembly I took the pulled pork and flashed in a pan on medium heat to put a little crust on it and to further marinate it in my Woody’s Smokehouse BBQ sauce. I also added a smidgen of vinegar and mustard to it for extra tang. Lastly, I topped it with some cabbage based slaw and also made a tasty potato salad. Good eating.

Ingredients
Pork Butt or untrimmed tenderloin
buns with butter
1 cup of Apple Juice
1 cup of BBQ Sauce
4 tbs of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 beer
Chicken Broth to top

Spice Rub
1/4 cup of Kosher Salt
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tbs of sugar
2 tbs garlic powder
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs paprika
2 tbs ancho chili powder
1 tbs of celery seeds
1 tbs of black pepper
2 tsp of dried thyme
1 tsp of cayenne pepper

Slaw
1 cup of packaged cabbage slaw
2 green onions diced
1 tbs of white vinegar
1 tbs of sugar
1 tbs of Dukes Mayo
Pinch of celery seeds
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Potato Salad
3-6 Red Potatoes (quartered and par-boiled)
3 parts Duke’s Mayo and 1 part French’s Yellow Mustard
1 tbs of Sour Cream
4 green onions diced
1 tsp of celery seeds
2 tbs of minced pickled jalapenos
dash of Tabasco

Directions
1. Ideally you could put an hour of smoke on this pork but I took the lazy way out and used the crock pot. I rubbed my pork loin in the spice rub. That sounded odd. I then put it in the crock pot for 1 hour dry to bloom the the spices. Flipped halfway. I then added the wet ingredients and let it cook for 6 hours on high. IMG_0202

2. Potato Salad – I quartered my potatoes into equal sized pieces and put the into a salted pot of medium high heated water. I pulled them just before totally done because I knew they would continue to cook. I didn’t want them to soften up and turn into mashed potatoes. I let them cool and then added them into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Tasted and adjusted until satisfied and then put them back into the fridge to chill. IMG_0214

3. Put the cabbage slaw, minced jalapenos and green onions into a bowl and mixed in the wet ingredients with the sugar until I got the flavor profile. I wanted sweet but tangy to balance the meat which was savory but tangy.

4. To finish it off, I pulled the pork for two sandwiches and put it on the medium heated pan and topped it with some BBQ sauce, a punch of apple cider vinegar and mustard to bump up the tang. Served it on a butter toasted bun. This is important for structure but also I like that little crunch on the inside when eating it.
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