Russian Pelmeni

My love for noodles, dumplings, etc. probably could be accredited to my German heritage. This recipe for Russian pelmeni has been hovering in my ‘must try’ file for quite some time, so today’s the day.

It seems most food historians agree that these Russian dumplings originated in Siberia. Although pelmeni forms the heart of Russian cuisine and culture, it does have numerous look-a-likes in particular the Ukrainian vareniki and the Polish pierogi. The easiest way to spot the difference is to look at the shape and size; a typical pelmeni is almost circular and about two inches in diameter. The other forms are usually more elongated and larger in size.  Also, the fillings in pelmeni are usually raw, while the fillings of vareniki and pierogi are typically precooked. Pelmeni will never have a sweet filling , unlike its Ukrainian counterpart. The recipe may actually be an adaptation of Chinese pot stickers.

Fillings differ but essentially they are ground meat (pork, beef or sometimes lamb), fish or mushrooms as well as being quite spicy.

The word pelmeni comes from ‘pelnyan’ which means ‘bread ear’, a reference to the food’s ear-like shape.

Although this meal was favored by hunters who were looking for light, easy to prepare, nourishing food to take with them on long trips in the winter, its also seen as Russian fast food among students or bachelors.

This recipe gives you the option of making traditional pelmeni or using an alternate method called ‘lazy’ pelmeni. Both equally as good.

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Russian Pelmeni
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine European
Keyword Russian pelmeni
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Ingredients
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine European
Keyword Russian pelmeni
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Dough
  1. In a bowl, combine all dough ingredients & knead until a smooth dough ball forms, about 10 minutes. Cover, set aside & allow dough to rest until your filling is prepared.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine ground meats, onion, garlic, salt & pepper. Mix well.
Assembly
  1. FOR THE TRADITIONAL PELMENI: Divide the dough in half & roll each portion out into 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2-inch diameter circles & place about a teaspoon of the filling on each circle. Fold the circle in half & crimp edges well, then bring the ends together & crimp. Repeat to use remaining dough & filling. It is best to refrigerate or freeze finished pelmeni before you are ready to boil them.
  2. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place pelmeni in the boiling water & cook until they float to the top then cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add butter & mix to coat. Serve with sour cream & fresh parsley.
  3. FOR 'LAZY' PELMENI VERSION: Once dough has rested, transfer to a floured surface. Roll out the dough into a large thin rectangle. Spread meat filling over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch at the far side of the dough.
  4. Tightly roll the dough up, starting from the wider side, forming a log. Put seam side down to seal the edges. Seal ends of the dough as well. Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough log into 2-inch sections.
  5. In a large skillet that will accommodate all pelmeni, heat oil & cook onion until translucent. Add garlic & continue cooking until fragrant. Add carrot & 1 bay leaf; cook until the carrot is tender, about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Place pelmeni rolls into the skillet with veggies, add the vegetable broth, salt, pepper & the other bay leaf. Cover with the lid & cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Check pelmeni from time to time, to make sure there is liquid in the skillet. Add more if it evaporates too fast. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately with sour cream if you wish.

Scalloped Potato Turkey Rolls

The wonderful thing about potato casseroles is that you can dictate the flavor by the types of cheese used as well as the added ingredients and flavor aids like herbs, garlic and spices.

There are many versions and variations of potato ‘bakes’. It comes down to little more than a free form of how the potatoes are cut and layered. Other ingredients such as herbs and cured meats like ham or bacon as well as smoked fish and other vegetables can be added.

With this recipe you are combining the best of all variations; scalloped, au gratin and dauphinoise. Béchamel sauce, a variety of cheeses and the flavor of garlic result in an amazing taste as well as the dish makes for some interesting eye appeal.

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Scalloped Potato Turkey Rolls
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Zucchini
Bechamel Sauce
Turkey Sausage
Servings
Ingredients
Zucchini
Bechamel Sauce
Turkey Sausage
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Instructions
Zucchini
  1. Place the shredded zucchini on paper towel & sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover & blot with another piece of paper towel. Allow to sit for about an hour or until moisture is absorbed. Place zucchini in a bowl & combine with panko, cheese, egg & spices. Set aside in refrigerator.
Bechamel Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter, whisk in flour. Cook for about 2 minutes then turn off heat & slowly begin to add milk. Continue whisking until all milk has been added then turn on heat & bring sauce to a boil. Whisk constantly until thickened then add 3/4 of the Gruyere cheese & stir until cheese is melted. Spread the bechamel sauce evenly in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Turkey Sausage
  1. In a saucepan, saute bacon, leeks & garlic until cooked & tender. Remove from heat & place in a bowl; allow to cool then add turkey & spices. Mix well.
Potatoes
  1. Slice potatoes into about 30 thin slices, keeping them in their original potato shape. Wrap each sliced potato in plastic wrap & bake in the microwave until almost cooked.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lay the potato slices on your work surface, spread a small amount of the zucchini mixture on each one. Top with a layer of the turkey mixture. Roll each potato slice in a spiral shape then place in rows over the bechamel sauce.
  2. Cover pan with foil & bake for 45 minutes then remove the foil & sprinkle the remaining Gruyere cheese on top. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until top is golden.

Rice & Potato Balls

The art of stuffing shouldn’t be reserved just for holidays. Stuffed foods let you combine different textures and flavors in every bite. They offer a unique presentation with one food acting as the dish for serving the other ingredients.

Stuffed mushrooms or peppers are probably some of the most common along with a basic sandwich or burger. One of my favorites is clam chowder being served in a bread bowl.

Stuffed foods appear in almost every culture. The options of ‘food inside of food’ is virtually limitless. Any food that can be wrapped around other foods such as large leaves, pasta or pizza dough can also make amazing delicacies.

Basic rice isn’t quite so basic when its shaped and stuffed. These rice and potato balls are a meal all in one …. rice, potatoes, chicken & cheese.

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Rice & Potato Balls
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Shell Mixture
To Bake
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Shell Mixture
To Bake
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Instructions
Shell Mixture
  1. In a food processor, place cooked potatoes & (cooked) rice; process for a few seconds then add salt & pepper to taste. Add parmesan & beaten egg; process a few more seconds. Do NOT over process or the mixture will turn into paste. This can also be done with a mixer if you wish. Set aside.
Chicken Filling
  1. To a large saucepan, add ground chicken & cook for 5 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Add onions & garlic; cook for 5-8 minutes or until onions are soft. Add spices & cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat, add the cilantro & set meat aside to cool.
Assembly
  1. Have a bowl of cold water nearby. Handling with moistened hands, take a small amount of potato/rice mixture & shape it into a round ball. Hold the ball in one hand & hollow it with the thumb of the other hand. Fill with some chicken filling & close opening. Lay filled balls on a large tray as they are made & flatten slightly.
  2. Place flour in a dish, beaten egg in another & the panko crumbs on a flat plate.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. & line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Roll each ball into the flour then dip into the egg & finally coat with panko bread crumbs. Place on baking tray, lightly spray with cooking oil & bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
  5. If you prefer, heat a combo of oil & butter in a skillet & pan fry balls instead. Alternately they could be deep fried as well.

Roast Chicken & Stuffing Pie

Meals like pot pies are classics for a good reason which makes them the foundation for endless inspiration. When you chose to ‘reinvent’ classic dishes, you must keep some of the elements that make the dish familiar and at the same time, you want to make the dish better, not just new. Taking a new approach to an ‘old school’ dish gives a chance to appreciate what was great about the original but making it new again.

Pot pie is a comfort food favorite which I have posted on this blog in many renditions over the years. Along with chicken I have featured seafood, beef as well as some pork & oyster pot pies.

Chicken is arguably one of the most favored proteins to put on the dinner table. Its valued for its nutrition, accessibility, low cost and most importantly its extreme versatility. Poultry serves as a blank slate and flavor absorbing foundation for every type of cuisine imaginable.

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Roast Chicken & Stuffing Pie
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Sour Cream Cornmeal Pastry
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Ingredients
Sour Cream Cornmeal Pastry
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles both coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it.
  2. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough. Press dough into 2 disks & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Chicken Filling
  1. Dice previously roast or pan fried chicken; set aside. In a saucepan, melt oil & butter & add leek, mushrooms & garlic. Cook until fragrant & the leek has softened. Toss in the bacon & continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes; stirring to combine. Add diced roast chicken.
  2. Sprinkle with the flour & seasonings; stir to combine. Add the stock & milk. Cook to reduce the sauce as well as it thickening it. Remove from heat & transfer to a bowl to cool then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Prepare Stove Top stuffing as directed on package.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare the egg wash in a small dish.
  2. Remove pastry disks & filling from refrigerator. Allow pastry to sit for a few minutes to become workable. Roll out first disk to about 10 1/2-inches in diameter. Line a 9 1/2-inch pie dish with it. Fill case with chicken filling. Fold top inch of pastry over filling in a cupping fashion. Using about 2/3 of remaining pastry, roll it into a 9-inch diameter & place on top of filled pie.
  3. Divide remaining dough into 8 strips. Place over covered pie resembling spokes of a wheel. On alternate wedges place chicken stuffing. Use egg wash on remaining four sections & on top of the narrow pastry strips.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden & cooked through. If the top is browning too quickly, loosely cover with a layer of foil until done. Remove from oven & allow to cool somewhat before serving.

German Lasagna

Classic German staples come together in this lasagna to make a very unique version of the classic dish.

There are six main ingredients in this recipe. The first is spaetzle, the German equivalent of pasta. The second is onion. By caramelizing the diced pieces you turn it into little velvety pieces of heaven that add incredible depth and sweetness to the dish. Third is Bratwurst, a fresh link sausage characterized by its many different spices and seasonings. Fourth is sauerkraut, bratwurst’s classic sidekick. Fifth is bacon and the crowning touch and grand finale is the Emmentaler cheese.

I would like to talk a bit more about spaetzle which, in my opinion, elevates this lasagna to a whole new level. Compared to traditional pasta dough, spaetzle is softer and quite moist.

Native to Germany, ‘spaetzle’ is made all over the world now, having a different name in each country. The lines have become blurred between what is a spaetzle and what is something else.

The dough is quite basic, made from flour, eggs, water and salt. Although these little ‘dumplings’ can be eaten with almost anything, I thought they added something real special to this German lasagna.

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German Lasagna
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Keyword German Lasagna
Servings
Ingredients
Spaetzle
Sauce
Caramelized Onions
Cottage Cheese
Additional Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Keyword German Lasagna
Servings
Ingredients
Spaetzle
Sauce
Caramelized Onions
Cottage Cheese
Additional Ingredients
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Instructions
Spaetzle
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with salt & make a well in the center. Add eggs to the well & whisk the flour into the eggs. Gradually whisk in the water until a very thick batter forms. Cover with a damp cloth & allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place spaetzle dough maker above the pot with the water. Load with dough & slide back & forth or press to squeeze the dough through & form the spaetzle noodles.
  3. Once the spaetzle begins to float to the surface, scoop with a large slotted spoon & transfer to a colander placed inside a bowl for the drained water to collect. Continue process until all of the dough is used.
Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat oil in saucepan, add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with cider vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Set aside.
Sauce
  1. In the saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, bouillon, garlic powder & salt until smooth. Gradually stir in milk & broth. Bring to a boil; cook & stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat to a bowl & set aside.
  2. In the saucepan, cook bacon (not too crisp); remove to a cutting board to coarsely chop. Add bratwurst sausage meat (which has been removed from casings) to saucepan & scramble fry until cooked. Drain on paper towel. Add chopped bacon, bratwurst & caramelized onions to your prepared sauce.
Cottage Cheese / Other Ingredients
  1. In a small bowl, beat eggs; add cottage cheese & pepper. Set aside. Drain sauerkraut & rinse. Squeeze dry. Grate cheese
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. Spread 1 cup sauce mixture over bottom of pan. Layer with 1/3 of the spaetzle noodles, a 1/3 of sauce mixture, 1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 of the sauerkraut & 3/4 cup grated cheese. Repeat layers ( spaetzle, sauce, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, spaetzle, sauce). Save grated cheese for last 5 minutes of baking.
  3. Cover & bake for 50-60 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining GRATED CHEESE; bake 5 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Allow to stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Recipe Notes
  • If you do not have a spaetzle dough maker, just drop spoonfuls of dough into the boiling water to form spaetzle noodles. Dip your spoon into water to prevent it sticking on the spoon.

Roast Turkey Breast w/ Sausage, Pecans & Cranberry Stuffing

In acknowledgement to our American neighbors who are celebrating Thanksgiving today, I am featuring a stuffed turkey breast meal on the blog today.

Technically, stuffing cooked inside turkey/chicken is called ‘stuffing’ whereas stuffing cooked separately is called ‘dressing’. But no matter what you call it, stuffing can easily upstage the turkey.

If you’ve never made sausage stuffing, your missing out on all the flavor and savor it adds to the meal. Any kind of ground sausage that you think would blend well with the other ingredients will work well.

You can use dried herbs, but your best flavor will be achieved from using fresh. I not only like herbs in the stuffing but using them in an herb butter for rubbing on the outside is so good.

Toasting the bread cubes isn’t always necessary. The toasting process is meant to dry out the bread to prevent your stuffing from becoming soggy with the bread absorbing too much liquid too fast. ‘Stale’ bread is already dried out and can be used instead of toasting. Crusty bread, such as sourdough or a French loaf, make good choices for preparing stuffing.

The addition of fruit and nuts further enhances the flavor and texture. For me, I can easily make a meal of the stuffing alone. I guess its another one of those ultimate ‘comfort foods’.

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Roast Turkey Breast w/ Sausage, Pecans & Cranberry Stuffing
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Turkey Breast
Herb Butter
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Ingredients
Turkey Breast
Herb Butter
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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, cook sausage meat until brown & crumbled, about 5-7 minutes. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon to a paper-lined plate & set aside. Drain off excess fat from saucepan.
  2. Add butter to saucepan & melt. Stir in onions & celery; sauté until softened. Add apple & garlic; cook & stir for 2 minutes. Stir in herbs & spices. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Stir in sausage, bread cubes, pecans & cranberries. Add chicken broth & stir to combine. Set aside.
Turkey Breast
  1. Arrange turkey breast skin side down on a work surface so that it lies open & flat. Cover with plastic wrap, then pound lightly with a meat mallet to flatten & make an even thickness all over. Discard plastic wrap & season turkey with smoked paprika.
Herb Butter
  1. In a small dish, combine all herb butter ingredients & set aside. Preheat oven to 325 F.
Assembly
  1. Spread stuffing over turkey breast, leaving a 3/4-inch border around the edge. Close up snugly, tucking in the stuffing as you go, then tie with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals around the entire turkey breast. Rub turkey all over with herb butter & arrange in a roasting pan.
  2. Roast uncovered, basting occasionally, for 2 1/2 hours or until cooked thru. Cover with foil if top browns too quickly. Transfer turkey to a craving board, tent with foil & set aside for 10-15 minutes. Remove & discard twine, slice turkey & serve.

Corned Beef & Potato Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage is a humble food and probably originated , as most comfort food has, from leftovers. Common place in Russian, German, Irish, Hungarian and Slovakian cooking, cabbage is an ingredient that is filling and inexpensive.

Readily available, this cold season crop is the under-appreciated cousin of brussel sprouts. There’s nothing particularly mysterious, alluring or exotic about it. Cabbage’s distinctive odor might have something to do with its unpopularity. When cooked, it has a pungent and pervasive, slightly sour, sulfur-y smell.

All that aside, cabbage becomes buttery soft when cooked. This allows its wide and sturdy leaves to be used as wraps for soft fillings. Any type of ground meat can be used, seasoned with garlic, onions and spices. Additional ingredients may include rice, breadcrumbs, barley, eggs, dried fruit, nuts, veggies, dried or fresh mushrooms, etc. The ‘sauce’ for baking stuffed cabbage, varies widely by cuisine.

These cabbage rolls are the full meal deal’, all rolled up in one …. corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes and cheese. Yum!

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Corned Beef & Potato Cabbage Rolls
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Cabbage
Filling
Sauce for Baking Cabbage Rolls
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Cabbage
Filling
Sauce for Baking Cabbage Rolls
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Instructions
Cabbage
  1. Place about 1-inch of water in a large kettle. Using a sharp knife, Cut the thick stem out of the bottom of the cabbage head leaving all of the leaves intact. Place the cabbage head into the pot of water. Cover the pot & bring the water to a boil. Steam the cabbage for 15 minutes. Once the cabbage is steamed, remove it from the pot & place it on a plate to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking dish.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine 'pulled' (cooked) corned beef, mashed potatoes, egg, mustard, parsley, salt & pepper. Mix well & set aside.
  2. Gently remove 15 (there will be a few extra in case of any that tear) cooled outer leaves from the cabbage head. Set them aside. Chop a cup of the remaining cabbage & add it to the filling mixture. Mix well.
  3. Lay a one cabbage leaf on a cutting board, with the stem facing towards you. Cut out the tough bottom section of the vein in the leaf, creating a V-notch. Place roughly 1/4 cup of the filling at the center of the leaf (around the tip of the notch). Roll the bottom (cut side) of the leaf up over the filling. Fold the two sides in. Continue rolling away from you to wrap the filling tightly in the remaining leaf.
  4. Place roll in baking dish. Continue with the remaining filling & leaves, creating two rows of 5 rolls each in baking dish.
Sauce
  1. In a small dish, whisk together beef broth & flour until no lumps remain. Pour over cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil & bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven & sprinkle top of the rolls with Swiss cheese. Cover & allow to sit for 5 minutes. Nice to serve with some RYE BREAD STICKS.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer not to cook your own corned beef, just purchase a thick piece of 'deli' corned beef, using forks you can easily 'pull' the meat apart that's needed in this recipe.

Stuffed Acorn Squash w/ Turkey & Rice

Squash is one of those quintessential autumn foods that we have come to recognize. Even though it is considered a winter squash, acorn squash belongs to the same species as all summer squashes including zucchini and yellow crookneck squash. The main difference between the classifications is that summer squashes have soft skins and tender seeds and are fairly perishable, while the winter types have hard shells, fully formed seeds and are very suited to long storage.

For all their many splendored shapes and colors, squash is not something most of us crave, although they are an integral part of the cuisine in scattered points of the globe, such as South and Central America, the West Indies, India and Japan.

The acorn squash is similar in flavor to the butternut squash yet has a bit of a nutty taste to it as well. Resembling its name in shape, the acorn squash usually weigh between 1-2 pounds and generally grow between four and seven inches long.

Roasting them partially before stuffing makes the squash a lot more tender and easier to eat. I am always aware of the concept of ‘seasonal eating’. I was born in September, so I figure its totally natural to love fall food (& colors) such as squash, pumpkin, apples and cranberries.

The large cavity of acorn squash just begs to be filled. In this recipe, seasoned ground turkey and smoked Gouda cheese join forces in the savory stuffing. One squash the size of a grapefruit or a little larger is usually enough for two people.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash w/ Turkey & Rice
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray the fleshy part of the seeded, acorn squash & place halves on a baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until flesh is slightly tender. Cook rice & grate cheese, set aside
  2. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil. Sauté garlic & shallots for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cumin & thyme & sauté another 3 minutes. Remove veggies from pan & set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the remaining Tbsp of oil to skillet & brown the ground turkey for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Drain if necessary & add to mixing bowl along with cooked rice. Stir to combine well.
  4. Using a spoon, take equal portions of the filling & place into the cavity of each acorn squash half. Place the baking tray back into the 400 F oven & bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Top each acorn squash half with sprinkles of the shredded cheese. Place back in the oven & bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
  6. When ready to serve, garnish with sliced green onion.
Recipe Notes
  • To make it easier, microwave the acorn squash for a few minutes, just to soften a bit before attempting to slice in half.

Mushroom Meatball Wellington

Meatballs don’t have to be boring. Tender, juicy meatballs, wrapped in puff pastry and served with a zesty sauce makes an easy, inexpensive version of the classic beef wellington.

Economical and versatile, cooking with ground meat opens up plenty of avenues for experimenting. Beyond reliable beef, almost all meats can be ground, but each kind of meat should be treated differently to fully enjoy the benefits.

Consider the fat content of ground meat before you buy. Some fat content is desirable as it adds flavor and helps to keep meat moist during cooking. Choose different types of ground meat for specific dishes. For example …. fatty beef makes juicier burgers but leaner ground turkey or chicken works better served as smaller meatballs or in a sauce. Ground pork makes for a cheaper burger than beef, plus it is unlikely to dry out. Flavor pork with spices like mace, or herbs like sage, thyme and fennel seeds and of course always ensure its cooked through. Ground meat is one of those things that generally ‘you get what you pay for’.

These meatballs make a tasty meal that can be ‘dressed up or down’, depending on what it is served with.

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Meatball Wellington
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Saute mushrooms, onion & garlic until onions & garlic are soft & most of the moisture has been released from the mushrooms, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooled veg mixture, pork, breadcrumbs & seasonings; mix all ingredients until incorporated. Shape mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs.
  4. Cut thawed puff pastry into thin strips. Wrap each meatball with a few strips of the pastry & place on the baking sheet. Brush pastry with egg wash.
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden & meat is cooked through. Remove from oven & place on serving platter. These are nice to serve with steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.

Pulled Pork w/ Roasted Rhubarb Sauce

Slow cooked meat is definitely not a new thing. Truly authentic pulled pork is actually a barbecue dish, cooked for hours over a charcoal pit until it falls apart, ready to be easily shredded or ‘pulled’ apart to serve.

I’m sure most of us have attended a classic Hawaiian Luau at one time or another in our lives. The main course of this Hawaiian feast is always the ‘kalua’ roast pork. Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an ‘Imu’, a type of underground steam oven.

My experience, was that it was definitely pull-apart tender but far too greasy for my liking. It has taken a lot of years for me to want to make even a North American version of this pulled pork idea. To my surprise, it didn’t turn out greasy and was pretty tasty.

The idea that it has to be roasted in an outdoor pit is really not true. It can be made easily in a standard domestic oven. Of course the seasonings, temperatures and serving methods are all open to debate.

Pork shoulder is ideal for pulling purposes, either bone-in or boneless. It has an optimum fat content that yields to create tender, ‘melty‘ meat, but its essential to cook it slowly to allow the protein to break down properly. Using a dry rub will also help create tenderness and flavor.

There are numerous ways you can serve pulled pork such as on some fresh brioche buns, with cornbread or in tacos. We are going to have ours in corn tortillas with some kohlrabi coleslaw and roasted rhubarb sauce.

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Pulled Pork w/ Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
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Instructions
Pork Shoulder
  1. Drizzle pork with 2 Tbsp of oil; sprinkle with spices & orange zest & rub into meat. Place in a plastic zip-lock bag & refrigerate overnight (about 24 hours).
  2. Bring meat to room temperature. Preheat oven to 275 F. Place meat in a roasting pan & bake until thickest part registers 170 F. on a meat thermometer. Basically, roast until it's falling apart. Remove roast from oven & transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks & 'pull' the meat to form shreds. Keep warm until ready to assemble tortillas.
Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
  1. Prepare sauce on the day you START to marinate meat.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & spray generously with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place chopped rhubarb & garlic cloves on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft.
  4. Transfer the rhubarb & garlic to a food processor or blender. Puree with one cup of water until smooth.
  5. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients & mix well. Add additional water, as needed, until sauce is desired consistency.
  6. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cool before pouring into a small glass pitcher. Refrigerate any leftovers when meal is finished.
Kohlrabi Coleslaw
  1. Prepare dressing in a screw-top jar; combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt & pepper. Cover & shake well. In a bowl, combine kohlrabi & carrots; drizzle with dressing.
Assembly
  1. During the roasting time of the meat, prepare kohlrabi coleslaw. When everything is ready, lay out warm tortillas, top with coleslaw & pulled pork shreds. Drizzle with prepared rhubarb sauce. Fold or roll tortilla & enjoy!
Recipe Notes
  • Instead of drizzling the rhubarb sauce, you can put your shredded pork in a bowl with some rhubarb sauce & combine. I find that distributes the sauce more evenly ... just a personal preference.