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Cheaters’ Wild Pork Ribs

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There are days when just getting out of bed seems like a major achievement.  As I stagger to the kitchen whimpering for a cup of coffee,  a pile of bills waits for me on the table.  I wade through waist-deep laundry to get to the the freezer room (yes, we have a freezer room! My husband is the Deerslayer, remember.) to decide what to fix for dinner.  I stare, bleary-eyed, at the contents,  waiting for something to jump out at me, something so easy to prepare that I can whip it up in no time and still come out looking like a Homemaker Extraordinaire.   Do you have days like that, too?

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon something that fills the bill, if you will.  A couple of years ago, Deerslayer had a great year hunting wild pigs.  There was plenty of very welcome wild pork to fill our freezers.  We ground a whole bunch of it, and had several roasts and tenderloins.  I was a happy camper.  Deerslayer asked if he should keep the ribs.  Keep in mind that wild pork ribs aren’t the same size as the ones you get at the market, much smaller.  But, what the hell, said I!  So we packaged up quite a mess of ribs, as well.

I’d been wondering for a while if I could cook the ribs in the oven like I did in my post from March 22, 2013, freeze them, label them, and toss them on the pit just long enough to impart the smoky goodness at the last minute. I decided to give it a shot.

I seasoned the pork ribs very liberally with Tommy’s Salt & Pepper mix, tossed them in my covered roasting pan with a can of Dr. Pepper poured over, and braised them for approximately a couple of hours at 350 degrees, turning occasionally, until the meat just about fell off the bone.

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I was able to pull the bones right out of the ribs.  The slabs stayed intact, however. Sorry for the bad lighting.  The meat wasn’t quite that grey.

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Then I packaged up the fully-cooked meat, labeled it, and tossed it in the freezer.

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When I was ready for a speedy, great dinner, I thawed out the meat, started some charcoal in the BBQ pit and worked on my side dishes (red bell peppers to grill, some garlic to roast, and some cole slaw).

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I put the ribs on the grill just long enough to heat them through, and slathered them with my favorite BBQ sauce.  I tossed some red bell peppers on as well after I removed the seeds, opened up the peppers to lie flat, rubbed them with olive oil, and added some Salt & Pepper mix .

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Meanwhile, back in the kitchen,  I took a slew of garlic cloves (pre-peeled from Sam’s Club), tossed ’em in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, and allowed them to roast until lightly browned and soft. Pretty damned tasty!  Most of them were eaten right out of the skillet before I could even get a picture!

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Clearly, I Need to Share a Wild Pork Recipe.

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For those of you that follow along with the daily ins and outs of the Deerslayer household, you have recently discovered that we have become the proud owners of a plethora of wild pork.  Deerslayer slew 6 wild pigs a couple of weeks ago.  Two went to his brother and the other four were packaged up, labeled, and carefully placed like puzzle pieces in our freezers.

It’s ironic that right before I heard the news, I had found a pork roast from January of this year that I knew would need to be eaten.(I suppose you’d like to know that it was in the freezer.) Boy, was that providential, or what?!?  I found this “cook all day” recipe in the files of The Pioneer Woman a year or so ago and have added it to my “staples” recipes.  I need to say right now that the Pioneer Woman is my hero.  Her recipes, lifestyle, family life, and taste in general parallel my own.  Except that she has a show on Food Network, and a huge cattle ranch, and a crew of people to help her with the chores.  But, other than that….

What hunters need to know about this recipe is that it works for any big hunk of wild pork that will fit into a cast iron dutch oven with a lid. I’ve used bone-in shoulder, bone-out shoulder, hams, roasts, pork butt, you name it. What I love about it is that, depending on the size of your family, this one recipe will provide several meals.  Usually the first day, the meat cooks for several hours, filling the the house with delicious, savory aromas.  It’s virtually impossible to keep everyone’s fingers out out of the pot, after it’s been taken out of the oven.  I’ve learned to roll with it and prepare some mashed potatoes and a salad and serve it like that.  Over the course of the week, the remainder of the meat will be used for pulled pork sandwiches and maybe some wild pork and green chile stew, or enchiladas with creamy poblano sauce.  One big hunk o’ pork will provide the Deerslayer household with three or four meals.  Yay!

Spicy Cook-All -Day Wild Pork

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One big chunk of pork that will fit into your cast iron dutch oven

One large onion, quartered (If you love onion, use two)

A liberal amount of Tommy’s secret salt and pepper mix or any salt and pepper mix

3 tbsp. of brown sugar

Approx. 4 tbsp.crushed chipotle peppers, depending on how much heat you like

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I always use the San Marcos brand. It’s readily available down here in South Texas. It adds a wonderful, smoky flavor to the pork and sauce.

About 1 ½ cups of Dr. Pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Place quartered onions in the bottom of a large cast iron dutch oven (that has a lid).

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Liberally season with salt and pepper mix a large “hunk o’ pork” that will fit into your dutch oven and leave room for the lid to fit on without touching the meat.  Be sure to season all sides.  Place meat on top of onions.

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Spread brown sugar over the top of the meat.

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Then smear crushed chipotle peppers over the brown sugar.

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Pour Dr. Pepper around meat.

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Cover with lid and place in preheated oven.  Every hour, for about 4-5 hours, turn meat over in pan until meat begins to fall apart.

The meat will fill the house with an amazing aroma that will render your family members virtually unable to keep themselves from  hovering around the kitchen.  Let them hover.  Make some mashed potatoes and a salad.  Revel in the glory.

 

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Successful Hunt? You decide!

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Okay, it was the first day of deer season in South Texas.  For the first time in quite a few years, Deerslayer headed out alone since the girls and I were had a previous commitment.  At daybreak, he scored this very nice ten-point, which weighed in at 185 pounds.

Within the next  24 hours, he added (you better sit down for this!) 6 wild pigs.  There were two pigzillas and 4 succulent, tender, I mean cute, little wild porkers.  What is it they say about too much of a good thing?

It’s important to remember that ranchers in these parts are always grateful to have the feral hogs eradicated from their property.  Wild pigs do lots of damage to crops and land, rooting for grubs and such.20141102_103016

Over the years, as all of you know,  I’ve become a huge fan of wild pork.  The more I use it, the more I appreciate the mild, lean, sweet meat.  The roasts, cook-all-day spicy pork butt and the resulting pulled pork sandwiches, tenderloin, steaks, bbq forequarter, and pan sausage. And don’t forget the fabulous smoked pork shanks!  Nowadays, I couldn’t live without them in beans, split pea soup, etc.   I will always make room in the freezer for some wild pork.  But SIX?

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Look at the tusks on that middle pig.

As fate would have it, Deerslayer’s brother was visiting from Dallas that weekend and was lamenting the fact that he had completely depleted his wild game stores.  His freezers were bare!  And with three big, strapping boys, it was a real issue.  Problem solved.  Brother went home with two of the pigs, leaving us with four pigs to process and package up.  Yay!  I say this a little sarcastically.  While I love wild game and thoroughly enjoy experimenting with new recipes, a project such as this monumental task left me a little less than enthusiastic.

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While the pig looks like it’s backlit and in the shadows, it’s pretty well blackened from the flame thrower.

Deerslayer (a.k.a. pigslayer)  had a few monumental tasks of his own before he even had a chance to “bring home the bacon”, as it were.  Hee hee

Down in this neck of the woods, these wild pigs have a tendency to have their fair share of ticks and fleas, which makes skinning them pretty unpleasant… unless you enjoy that whole primal ritual of checking each others’ nooks and crannies for the little critters.  I do not.  Neither does Deerslayer or the juniors.  “Necessity is the mother of invention”, ya know.  So Deerslayer created a device that seared the hair off the pigs while providing a pyrotechnics show of sorts.  Using a flamethrower and propane tank,(yeah, baby!) he was able to burn the hair (and any offending fleas and ticks) off the carcasses.  In the picture, you can see the propane tank and the hose that attached to the flamethrower.

Granted, the smell, I’m told, was less than pleasant but the pigs were hair- and critter-free.  A quick squirt with a hose and brush made the process much less worrisome.  The junior pigslayers and I were greatly disappointed that we missed the “show”.  Apparently, it was a sight to behold.  A display of genius!

We excitedly await the next opportunity to head out to the ranch so that I can do a video tutorial on the “flaming pig” process.  Perhaps it will go viral!

 

 
 

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If I Could Save Time in a Bottle…

the first thing that I’d like to do … is buy several cases and hide them under my bed!

This little hint has turned into a real time saver.  Every so often, I slow-cook up a roasting pan full of venison and/or wild pork (Check out how to do it in my entry, “Come and Take It”).  About a week ago, I cooked up about 10 pounds of wild pork.  I divided it into one-pound portions, bagged it up, and froze it.

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 Zip-lock has a product that sucks the air out of the special bags. (The glass of wine is optional but present in most of my kitchen ventures.)

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Most of my recipes use about a pound of meat.

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This little gadget is so much faster than pulling out the vacuum-sealer.  The special bags are available in two sizes.  I always stock up right before hunting season.  As I cook up meat later in the year, however, I also use these bags for packaging up portions of cooked meat for recipes such as Wild Pork and Guinness Stew, Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Venison Pot Pie, and many others. It’s so easy to thaw out a bag of meat in a bowl of water while I grab the other ingredients.  Hope this saves you some time, too.

 

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Wild Pork Done Right/ Wild Pork Done Easy

A couple of weeks ago, my deerslayer was called upon to put together a birthday extravaganza for the patriarch of the Deerslayer clan.  The venue was a given; the family beach house near South Padre Island; rustic, grungy and the site of many, many great times had by all.  The food?  How about the whole wild pig we had in the freezer?  Perfect!  The method?  Smoked on the grill, of course!  My deerslayer worked with mesquite wood and a pit the way Picasso worked with oils.  It was pure artistry. However, it required four men and a flatbed trailer to get the pit to its destination.

The day of the party arrived.  Guests were greeted by “the traditional welcome of the deerslayer”.

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There’s nothing like a couple slabs of wild pig to welcome guests!  They (the slabs of pork, not the guests) went onto the pit and smoked all day.

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After 8 hours of snacking, storytelling, joking, beer drinking, and birthday festivities the main course was ready!

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It was outstanding.  I have to admit that I thought of my fellow bloggers at www.patronsofthepit.wordpress.com. I think that even they would be proud since they are experts of all things bar-b-qued and smoked.

An evening with family and friends, wild pork (and beer and wine), and beautiful views. It doesn’t get any better than this!

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As wonderful a time as this was, it required a lot of preparation and planning and man-hours.  There are times, however, when we just don’t feel like firing up the grill but still want the flavor of great pork.  My deerslayer processed our pigs this year so that we kept some racks of ribs.  Lots of racks of ribs to be exact because we got several wild pigs.

I decided to try something other than the traditional method.  At this point, if “The Patrons of the Pit” are reading this, or any other BBQ purists, walk away!  Just stop reading because you will shake your heads in despair.

Wild Pork Ribs (Done Easy)

I seasoned some pork ribs very liberally with Salt & Pepper mix, tossed them in my covered roasting pan with a can of Dr. Pepper, and braised them for a couple of hours at 350 degrees, turning occasionally.

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 Then I removed the lid, slathered them with my favorite new BBQ sauce, Skipkenny’s Whiskey BBQ Sauce, from New Braunfels. (It’s now available on Amazon!  I bought a case!)  I stuck them back in the oven for another hour until they began to fall off the bone.

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The ribs were ready for dinner with beans and potato salad.  They didn’t have the characteristic smoky flavor and smell of pit BBQ, but neither did I.  While I love BBQ as much as the next person, I have to admit (as do my deerslayers) that this is a pretty decent alternative to no ribs at all!  I’d be willing to prepare them this way again and my deerslayers said that they’d be willing to eat them!

 
 

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This Little Piggy…

.. ended up on our dinner table. It was delicious.

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This past weekend we participated in the South Texas version of autumn hunting. It was 80 degrees during the day and in the 60s at night. There was no bundling up against the cold, sipping hot chocolate. We did, however have a great campfire in a very nice fire pit. There was a constant gulf breeze that made the evening and nighttime very pleasant. There is nothing that compares to sitting around a campfire, leaning back in a camp chair and watching the stars!
My deerslayers harvested some wonderful wild pig. It is not the same as javelina. Wild pork is heavenly meat that doesn’t have the added fat from force-feeding, or the hormones, dyes, or antibiotics that commercially raised pork could.
These pigs are feral hogs that escaped domestic life about 400 years ago when the Spanish were trapsing across the country looking for gold. These wild pigs reproduced with abandon and have taken over much of Texas. Farmers and ranchers alike are eager to be rid of the animals because they root up the land about as much passion as they reproduce. Right! With abandon! They can decimate entire areas in little time. Anyway, the point is that the ranchers and farmers are as pleased to have us harvest the pigs as we are to do so.

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I love to prepare this meat. Even more, I love having it in the freezer. As I’ve mentioned previously, my freezer was bare for the first time in 28 years so I was very excited when my deerslayers dragged in some of God’s bounty. With the hams, shanks, fore-quarters, backstraps, tenderloins, and soup meat, I can prepare any number of great meals. It makes me feel “self-sustaining”. I’m even going to take a walk on the wild side and prepare the liver and heart tonight. I’ll get back to you on that one. If any of you have recipes for pork organ meat, let me know!

Our first celebratory meal from our pig harvest was a seared pork backstrap with balsamic reduction, steamed broccoli and (gasp) Velveeta cheese sauce. Don’t scoff until you’ve tried it. The cheese sauce is a nod to one of my mentors, Christine Friesenhahn of Texana’s Kitchen in her entry, “White Trash Wednesday”.

Seared Pork Backstrap with Balsamic Reduction and
Steamed Broccoli with Velveeta Cheese Sauce of Awesomeness
Serves about 4 people
1 wild pork backstrap
salt & pepper mix
olive oil
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze (I recently found the BEST Texas balsamic vinegars and olive oils at a farmers’ market in San Antonio. What a great variety of interesting flavors. Ya gotta try ’em.Texas Olive Ranch.) I used the pomegranate balsamic vinegar for this recipe! Wow!
broccoli florettes

Velveeta cheese sauce of Awesomeness
1/4 brick of Velveeta, cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
a scant sprinkling of cayenne

I’m going to start this recipe with a tutorial on cutting a backstrap in preparation for cooking.

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The backstrap is a pretty long muscle.

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First, I use my favorite filleting knife to remove the white layer of “skin”or fascia.

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Then I cut it into three pieces of equal length that will fit easily into my cast iron skillet.

Liberally season the meat on all sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder mix.

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Sear the backstrap in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.

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Then place the browned meat in a 9 x 13 oven-proof pan and cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The time will vary slightly depending on how long you seared it, how hot the pan was, etc. Because we’re cooking pork, it’s important that the meat be adequately cooked through, but not dry. Since the muscle is thicker on one end that the other, place the thinnest 1/3 between the other two. This will prevent the skinny piece from overcooking.

Twenty minutes usually is enough time for a medium sized wild pig. My daughter wants everyone to know that it’s important that the ovenproof pan NOT have a plastic cutting board under it when it’s placed in the oven. ‘Nuf said.
While the meat is resting for the required 10 minutes, steam some broccoli and pour some balsamic vinegar into the skillet in which you browned the meat.

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Use a whisk to scrape up the crusty yumminess that was left behind.

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If you’re using a balsamic glaze, you’re ready to go with an elegant sauce for your meat. you’re using balsamic vinegar, heat the sauce until it reduces and thickens. (Don’t forget the great olive oils and balsamic vinegars that are available from Texas Olive Ranch. I bought six!)

After you slice the meat, add the remaining meat juices to the sauce.

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Sometimes, I prepare a side of quinoa, also. Very elegant, kid-friendly, and super fast. Hunter-friendly and fabulous, too!

 

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