Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Carolina Heat Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Ever since I first attended Ottawa’s Annual Chicken and Rib Fest I’ve been an avid admirer of pulled pork.  Pulled pork is a form of barbecue where a roast cut such as butt or shoulder is cooked using a slow cook method.  With the longer cooking times at low temperatures, the meat becomes tender enough that it can be pulled apart or shredded. 

Some of the more flavorful pulled pork I’ve sampled over the years has been smoked.  Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in Atlanta Georgia or Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse and The Smoque Shack here in Ottawa serve up some of the best!

Fat Matt's Rib Shack's Pulled Pork Sandwich

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's Pulled Pork Sandwich

Ottawa's Own Smoque Shack's Pulled Pork Sandwich
With the cold weather that Ottawa has been experiencing as of late, I was really craving some summer type food and pulled pork on a Sunday afternoon was just what the doctor ordered.  However, with my barbecue tucked away for the winter and the colder temperatures, smoking the pork wasn’t really an option.  So I turned to my oven to see if I could yield some equally good results. 

My Carolina Heat Pulled Pork Sandwich
I must say, by roasting the pork in the oven at 300oF for almost 5 hours (I could have even done it at 275 for a slower roast) and using this amazing Carolina styled (mustard and vinegar based) BBQ sauce, one would swear they were just served a true southern styled smoked pulled pork sandwich!  Give this recipe a try and I’m sure you will agree!

Pork shoulder roast cooked to perfection

Pulled and ready to be served
Carolina Heat Pulled Pork Sandwiches


Dry Rub
This stuff is absolutely amazing and I use it all the time for grilling chicken or pork cuts on the grill.  I’ve also used it to season chicken wings and roasted potatoes.  I make this rub in bulk and keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator and use it whenever I need to.
  • 2 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • ½ tsp ground sage
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
 Carolina Heat BBQ Sauce

Carolina Heat BBQ Sauce
  • 1 cup prepared yellow mustard
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke (hickory flavoring)
Cole Slaw
  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrots, grated
  • 1 green pepper, grated
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp poppy seeds
  1. Mix the paprika, pepper, onion powder, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, sage, nutmeg and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl.  Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300oF.  Put the pork in a roasting pan, cover and roast it for about 6 hours until meat is falling apart.
  3. While the pork is roasting, make the barbecue sauce. Combine the mustard, sugar, brown sugar, cider vinegar, chili powder, black pepper, white pepper and cayenne in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.  Stir in soy sauce, butter and liquid smoke and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit until roast is ready.
  4. To make the slaw, combine the cabbage, carrot, onion and green pepper in a large bowl.  In another bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, olive oil, sugar, vinegar, salt and poppy seeds.  Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss gently to mix.  Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator before serving.
  5. When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and let meat rest for 10 minutes.  While the pork is still warm, take 2 forks and while using one of the forks to steady the meat, use the other to "pull" shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a large bowl use the sauce to thoroughly coat it.
  6. To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun, and top with slaw.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hail To The King

Happy New Year Everyone!  I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays.  Part of the appeal of the holidays is entertaining family and friends.  One of my favorite meals to serve treasured guests is none other than the king of roasts, prime rib.  There’s nothing that makes me drool faster than slicing into a freshly cooked medium rare prime rib roast and savoring that first mouth watering morsel.   The flavors that burst through my go-to recipe (with Dijon mustard, fresh rosemary and thyme) are absolutely delicious.

Garlic Herbed Prime Rib, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy with
Roasted Lemon Pepper Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan

If you’re looking for a big bold wine to pair with your roast, I suggest none other than an Italian Barolo.  I recently enjoyed a beautiful bottle of 2007 Matto Barolo while dining at Play.  The blackberry, cherry and spicy notes along with the not too prominent tannins would make this Barolo a perfect choice for such a wonderful cut of red meat.  If you cannot find Matto (crazy in Italian) at your liquor store any Barolo from 2007 or older would be an excellent match.

Matto Barolo

So next time you’re hosting dinner, I hope you give this great recipe a try.  You guests will feel like royalty.  Bon appétit!

Garlic Herbed Prime Rib Roast

Ingredients (for 5 lb roast)
  • 5lb prime rib roast with ribs cut from roast and tied back on
  • ¼ cup Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic slivered
  1. Cut slits into roast and insert garlic slivers
  2. Combine in small bowl mustard, thyme, rosemary and oil mix well then spread all over roast
  3. Place roast, ribs down on rack in roasting pan.
  4. Season and insert oven safe meat thermometer in centre avoiding fat or bone.
  5. Cook uncovered in 325°F to desired doneness (20 mins per lb for Rare – Thermometer 135°F, 25 mins per lb for Medium - Thermometer 155°F, 30 mins per lb for Well Done - Thermometer 165°F)
  6. Remove roast to cutting board and tent with foil for 10 – 15 mins to allow temperature to rise 5°F.
The Dijon, Rosemary and Thyme Spread
Ready to go!

Cooked to perfection

Scrape drippings from roasting pan into a medium pot with two cups of beef broth.  Bring to a boil and add 2 tbsp cornstarch with a ¼ cup of cold water.  Repeat until you’ve reached desired consistency.  For extra flavor saute some mushrooms and add to gravy before serving.
Roasted Lemon Pepper Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan
Roasted Lemon Pepper Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan

So many times when eating prime rib I’ve been served steamed carrots and green beans.  While delicious, they can be rather plain.  So next time you want to liven up a dish with some vegetables as a side, try this lemon pepper roasted asparagus with shaved Parmesan.  Roasting the asparagus this way really gives it a rich flavor and doesn’t wilt it as much as steaming it might.
Ingredients (Serves 4):
  • 1lb of asparagus
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced (optional)
  • Coarse Salt and grown pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 – 12 shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese to garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Toss asparagus in large bowl with olive oil, lemon zest and juice garlic.
  3. Place asparagus on parchment paper lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper
  4. Bake in over for 8 – 12 minutes until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork.
  5. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve.




Monday, December 24, 2012

My Favorite Things

Every Christmas you will likely hear Julie Andrews sing about her favorite things in The Sound of Music.  I was thinking about a fun way to show my appreciation to everyone for having taken an interest in my blog and also write about my own personal favorites from the past year.  I give you, my version of “My Favorite Things”.
Scallops from Mistura sharing plates inside Play
Beckta’s fine menu, I could eat there all day
Eating DinoQ’s ribs is where my heart truly sings
These are a few of my favorite things
Trio’s mixed olives are so delicious to eat
BOM’s burgers so tasty chalk full of red meat
A sip of Barolo right after the glass “clings”
These are a few of my favorite things
Amatriciana so delish, with pancetta and cheese
Margherita from Lombardi’s I scarf down with such ease
Great food with great friends is what gives my soul wings
Sharing Fooding Around is my most favorite thing!
- Chorus -
When something bites
 When life gives a few stings
 When I'm feeling sad
 I go enjoy some of my favorite things
 And then I don't feel so bad
Thank you for giving me the privilege of sharing my epicurean adventures with you.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.  I look forward to sharing more of my favorite things with you in 2013!
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Jason Mombourquette

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It all started with the olives...

Up until about 18 months ago, there was no way anyone would ever get me to eat an olive let alone smell one. Putrid and salty, I never understood their appeal until I had the pleasure of stepping into Westboro’s hidden gem, Trio Lounge. I’ve been eating there practically every week since that fateful day. In fact, just last Thursday I ordered two servings of them. Yes, they’re that good!

Trio is a tiny little tapas-style restaurant that prides itself on not being pretentious. You only have to look to the back of the menu for an amusing list of possible infractions that could land you with the unsavory moniker of “douche.”

It is a very chic lounge, featuring local art and a great iPod playlist (that they are now raffling off) that pumps out great lounge style tunes. Seating is limited with about a dozen bistro tables and four more seats at the bar. Jennifer, Sarah and Trio’s chef de cuisine, Mike, have been leaving my taste buds in awe since my first visit.

A special feature of the bar menu is the “drink recipe box” where patrons provide recipes for their own personal mixed drinks. It's such a unique concept you really do have to try it at least once.

Watermelon Mojito - one of the many fine drinks to be had at Trio
I have no idea how such delicious food can come from such a tiny kitchen. I’ve seen walk-in closets bigger than Trio’s kitchen, yet the food that comes out of it is among the best this city has to offer, especially for its price point. If you don’t believe me, check out the some of the reviews on Urban Spoon giving Trio a 90% average, or better yet, experience it firsthand.

Some of my favourites are the marinated olives (obviously) which costs only $6.00. I’ve never experienced such variety in flavor for such a simple ingredient. One week the mix of black and green olives will feature a lighter lemon, lime or orange citrus marinade, the next week, a more savory southern Mediterranean blend of spices and red wine vinegar inspired marinade.

Their “wholly fsck” baked cheese sandwich features both cream and old white cheddar nestled between two garlic baguettes with a side of house ketchup that has a hint of “bite” to it. One bite of this sandwich and a plain old slice of processed cheese and two slices of bread will never satisfy you again. The cream cheese helps take the bite out of the sharp cheddar and blends seamlessly with the garlic toast and pairs very well with a Ripasso or Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Wholly Fsck Baked Cheese Sandwich
House Ketchup
Each week Mike features a seared albacore tuna dish for $13.00 that changes regularly depending on his mood and the ingredients available to him. Two weeks ago it was an Asian themed dish featuring a kicked up blend of spices, sesame seeds, wasabi and miso glaze. The plating as you can see below was top notch.

Asian Spiced Albacore Tuna
Last week I enjoyed the Malaysian Pork Belly Steak ($14.00) with fresh mushrooms, a mountain of fresh cilantro and green onions. The pork belly was cooked to perfection without having too much of a crispy bacon-like crust that others tend to do. It melted in my mouth and I loved how the fresh cilantro gave the bolder flavors of the meat a light refreshing dimension.

Malaysian Pork Belly with Mushrooms and Cilantro
One of my personal favourites is the Chef’s Tasting Board that features a sampling of some of Trio’s best tapas dishes. It will often feature Mike’s homemade ricotta, apricot humus, mushroom tapenade and many others for $24.00.

So if you’re looking for a cozy place to enjoy an evening drink or bottle of wine, some great food and friendly service, stop by Trio and tell Jenn and Sarah I sent you. I promise you they’ll take great care of you!

Trio Lounge
307 Richmond Road, Ottawa, ON  K1Z 6X3
(613) 722-3887

Trio Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Delicious Sunday Meal

Sunday Dinner - YUM!
This past Friday I was trying to come up with a nice Sunday dinner menu for my parents.  I usually like to cook a nice meal for them on weekends to show my appreciation for their love and support.

This weekend’s menu consisted of an arugula salad with walnuts, pears, dried cranberries and goat cheese with a white wine vinaigrette, pasta ala vodka with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes and some tomato-garlic bread.

I thoroughly enjoy this go-to salad of mine.  It is light and easy to make.  The vinaigrette has a sweet and tangy flavor to it that just blends seamlessly with the pears and dried cranberries.  I frequently substitute goat cheese with cambozola blue for this recipe depending on what I’m in the mood for.

I recently came across a recipe for pasta ala vodka that uses sun-dried tomatoes and over a cup of Vodka in the sauce!  Now before you worry about the alcohol overpowering the flavor of the sauce, I can tell you that the vodka in this recipe really gives the sauce an added depth of flavor to it without it being overpowering.  In fact, after the alcohol burned off, it really enhanced the sun-dried tomatoes.  The cream with the pecorino cheese gave the sauce a nice velvety texture.  Another interesting aspect of this recipe saw a chicken cutlet placed atop of the dish rather than cooking the chicken with the sauce.  It was incredible and I was quite pleased with my first attempt at cooking cutlets.

I never would have thought to use tomato paste on garlic bread spread, but a minute amount of it added to your average garlic spread gives it an unexpected sweetness.  I highly recommend you give it a try next time.  All it takes is a half teaspoon of tomato paste to yield the desired effect.

Last but not least, the meal was paired with a delicious 2006 Zenato Valpolicella Ripassa Superiore that a good friend of mine gave me last week; thanks Jason!  Ripasso wines have become one of my favorites to enjoy with a meal or even on their own.  They have all the full-bodied taste of an amarone for half the price.  The reason being is that ripasso wine is made from “repassed” amarone grapes after they are used in the production of amarone wine.  As the production of amarone wines has increased over the 21st century, so too has ripasso as a “second-wine” offering to wine lovers.

I dare say that at the end of the meal, my folks were thoroughly pleased with the results and I hope you are too; enjoy!

Arugula salad with walnuts, pears, dried cranberries and goat cheese with white wine vinaigrette

Arugula salad with walnuts, pears, dried cranberries
and goat cheese with white wine vinaigrette
Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 Red Bartlet Pear sliced
  • 150g of Arugula
  • 100g of Goat cheese or Cambazola Blue cut or torn into chunks
  • Walnut pieces
  • Dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

  1. Wash pear and arugula thoroughly and combine with cheese then garnish with walnuts and cranberries.
  2. Place the oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Close the lid, and shake vigorously to blend.   Drizzle salad with 4 to 5 tablespoons of dressing or as desired.  Store remaining dressing in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Pasta Alla Vodka with Chicken Cutlets and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Pasta Alla Vodka with Chicken Cutlets and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 8 oz. dry pasta (campanelle, penne, or mafalda corta)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 6 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley divided
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes drained and oil reserved
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded pecorino cheese
  1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain
  2. Combine bread crumbs and 2 Tbsp. of parsley in a shallow dish
  3. Pound each chicken breast to about ½-inch thick between sheets of plastic wrap.  Season with salt and pepper then coat in bread crumb mixture.
  4. Heat 3 Tbsp. of the reserved tomato oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Place cutlets in the pan and cook until brown;,about 4 minutes per side.  Remove cutlets and set aside tenting them with foil.
  5. Melt butter in the same pan, add onions and garlic and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste.
  6. Add vodka, and reduce by half for about 3 minutes.  Add broth and tomatoes and simmer for another 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in cream and pepper flakes, reduce heat to low and simmer 3 more minutes.  Add pasta, pecorino and remaining parsley, season with salt and pepper. 
  8. Divide pasta among four plates and top with cutlets.
Tomato Garlic Bread

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 baguette cut
  • Minced fresh parsley
  1. Preheat broiler with rack 6 – 8 inches from element
  2. Combine butter, oil, tomato paste and garlic; season with salt and pepper
  3. Brush mixture onto bread and place on baking sheet then broil until toasted 1 – 2 minutes
  4. Garnish with parsley and serve

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bucatini and Pancetta with Lemon Cream Sauce

I love cooking with pancetta.  I find whenever a recipe calls for bacon I will substitute it with pancetta; it is so much more flavorful.  I’ve used it in everything from sauces to Caesar salads to even southern styled collard greens!  I always try to have a package of Mastro’s cube-etti pancetta.  It tastes great and it’s easy to find in any grocery store for about $5.69 per package.  I’m sure there are other companies that sell it however Mastro’s seems to be what everyone carries around Ottawa.

I was also recently turned on to bucatini pasta.  It is very similar to spaghetti but a little heartier.  One of my favorite recipes for bucatini and pancetta is Bucatini All’Amatriciana, but I’ll write about that another day. 

I recently came across this very simple recipe that can be made in 20 minutes or less depending on how you like to cook your pasta.  Personally I prefer my pasta al dente.  The hint of lemon in the cream sauce combined with the saltiness of the pancetta and parmesan cheese makes for a deliciously light meal that can be made in minutes that will surely impress any dinner guest.  Next time I make this recipe I might even try substituting the pancetta with another of my favorite Italian cured meats, prosciutto di Parma.  Enjoy!

Bucatini & Pancetta with Lemon Cream Sauce
Ingredients (yields 4 servings)
  • 8 oz dry bucatini
  • 1 pkg. (128g) “cube-etti” pancetta
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp. minced lemon zest, divided
  • ½ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  1. Cook bucatini in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions, drain
  2. In a large pan sauté pancetta in butter over medium heat until slightly crisp.  When finished set pancetta aside in a bowl lined with a paper towel.  Add broth, cream, lemon juice, 1 Tbsp of zest and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat
  3. Add bucatini, pancetta and Parmesan cheese to sauce then combine
  4. Garnish each serving with remaining lemon zest and parsley.

Perfect Pickles

7-Day Garlic Dill Pickles
One of my favorite culinary pastimes is pickling.  For as long as I can remember, every fall my mother would do some form of pickling whether it was pickled beets, pickled eggs or my personal favorites her seven-day dills.  I remember as a child going with my mother to the Parkdale Market on Saturday mornings bright and early and wait for the stands to open so we could get our pick of the best cucumbers.  Once we brought them home I’d watch the process she’d follow from this worn out piece of paper to make her dills with my dad. 

This hand written recipe is older than I am!
Later on as an adult, I started making them myself.  One year I remember making over 50 large mason jars.  I’d give them away to friends and family and everyone use to say how they were the best garlic dill pickles they ever had.  In one instance, a friend of mine enjoyed them so much; he even drank the juice after finishing off the jar.

I realize it is a bit late in the season to make these, however if you ever come across some fresh cucumbers or next September give theses a try.  The secret is using #1 sized cucumber and you can buy them at both the Parkdale and Byward markets starting in September.  It is also imperative that after soaking the cucumbers of 6 to 8 hours in ice water to crisp them make sure you dry them before stuffing them into the jar.

7 Day Garlic Dills (yields 8 jars)

  • 5 lbs of #1-size cucumbers
  • 1 bag of ice cubes or 4 to 5 trays of ice cubes in cold water
  • 16 small sprigs of dill
  • 16 cloves of garlic diced
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) of cold water
  • 1 cup pickling salt (for less salty taste, use ¾ cup)
  • 1 quart (4 cups) of white vinegar
  1. Rinse and scrub cucumbers thoroughly
  2. Place in large container or kitchen sink add ice cubes and water and soak 6 to 8 hours to crisp, drain and dry thoroughly
  3. Sterilize 8 large mason jars (approximately 1 quart in size) and place one sprig of dill and one diced garlic clove in each jar, pack cucumbers inside jar and place another sprig of dill and diced garlic clove on top.
  4. Make brine by boiling water, salt and vinegar for 5 minutes until salt dissolves.
  5. Pour hot brine into mason jars making sure there’s no air bubbles, seal mason jars tightly.  As jars cools you may hear lids “popping” as they seal
  6. Store jars in cool area such as a basement or cold storage for seven days.  The longer the jars sit the better the pickles will taste.