Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ethan's Sweet Pork Sliders

My kids are off track, so I am taking advantage of the opportunity to let them spend some time in the kitchen.  I handed Ethan a stack of my cooking magazines and told him to select our menu for last night.  He settled on Sweet Pork Sandwiches that he found in an old issue of Taste of Home, with S'more Bars for dessert.  Later in the day we were driving past a restaurant that advertised sliders, and Ethan declared that we had to make small rolls.  The kids had fun helping me form the rolls, and the meat was delicious.  I modified a few little things, so I am posting it the way I made it.  Quite sweet, but tasty.  This recipe requires a substantial amount of cooking time, so plan accordingly.

Ethan's Sweet Pork Sliders

1 boneless pork shoulder butt roast (2 1/2 - 3 pounds)
1 medium sweet vidalia onion, chopped
1 T. butter
1 can (15 ounces) tomato puree
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. molasses
1/2 t. salt
Rolls of your choice

Place pork on a rack in a roasting pan and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until tender.  (I simply used a cooling rack placed inside a 10x15 jelly roll pan, and I tried out convection mode on my oven, still at 350 degrees.  It came out great at the 2 hour mark.  This roast was packaged encased in a mesh sleeve to keep all the little pieces together.  Leave the mesh in place until the cooking is through.)  Once you remove the roast from the oven, allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing to let the juices settle.  Slice it into very thin pieces or shred it.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or other sturdy pot, saute onion in butter until tender.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Stir the pork into the sauce and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.  Serve on buns.

It just so happens that since the pork takes 2 1/2 hours to get ready, that's the perfect amount of time to make your own rolls.  Any of you that have been in my kitchen know that I knead by hand (no mixer, thankyouverymuch, and plus I like it that way), and that I rarely measure anything that goes into my bread doughs.  I've gotten quite comfortable with the approximate ratios that work, and yeast and I are on very good terms.  This is frustrating for people that want to know how I made whatever roll I served to them, because most of the time I really can't remember.  I am giving you the basic principal here.  The only measurement that is going to be really approximate is the flour, and that's something that varies from batch to batch depending on the humidity, how packed your flour is, what type you use, etc.  That's why kneading by hand is so great - I can tell when I've got just enough by how the dough behaves.  Any of you local readers are welcome in my kitchen for fun times with bread dough.  It's such a satisfying skill to learn.  I keep telling my kids that they are royally spoiled because I make yeast dough of some sort several times a week.  I made rolls last night for dinner, and have overnight cinnamon rolls rising in the fridge.  Anyway, let's get on with the recipe.

Rolls of the Wednesday Sort

2 cups warm water (warm to touch, but not so hot that you have to withdraw your finger)
1 T. yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil (you may also substitute melted butter)
1 t. kosher salt
2 cups whole grain flour (I prefer a mixture of white wheat and semolina)
3-4ish cups unbleached all purpose flour

Soften the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl for a few minutes.  Add in the honey, oil, salt, and whole grain flour and stir to combine.  Stir in the all purpose flour cup by cup until the dough gets difficult to stir by hand.  At this point, sprinkle a fairly generous layer of flour on top of the dough glob, and begin kneading by hand.  Add in a handful of flour at a time until your dough glob works it's way into a lovely smooth ball that feels springy but not too stiff.  It is tempting to add a LOT of flour so that it won't stick, and this is where finesse comes in.  I always have a bit of dough clinging to my hand, but not a freakishly thick layer.  I add just a light layer each time and work it until it starts to get sticky, then add a little bit more.  Total hand kneading time is 5-7 minutes, depending on how efficient you are.

Either drizzle a little oil in the bowl or mist the dough and bowl with PAM, turning to coat.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled.  Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and cut or pull off equal globs of dough.  To make the mini rolls, the globs were about walnut size.  For more normal dinner rolls, a generous plum size. 

It's difficult to explain how to form rolls properly, but I found this good tutorial.  And again, I'd be happy to demonstrate it to any of you willing to come hang out in my kitchen.  This same principal applies to how I form my round rustic loaves of bread.

Place the formed rolls on a 10x15 baking sheet that has been misted with cooking spray, cover with a towel, and allow to rise again for 30-60 minutes or until almost doubled.  Preheat your oven to 375 (or 350 in convection mode).  If you like a glossy top, beat an egg with a fork, then paint the egg wash over the top of each roll.  You can also brush on milk or melted butter.

Bake for 10-15 minutes for tiny rolls, and 15-20 minutes for larger rolls.  They are done when uniformly golden across the top and they spring back when touched.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.


whiting family said...

OK, teaching moment. What is is the difference between regular and kosher salt?

Nurse Heidi said...

Here's an excellent answer for you:

I use it because it is harder to over salt things, and I also think that iodized salt has a metallic tang to it.

Katy said...

I have a question too. Can one substitute unbleached all purpose flour for bleached all purpose flour? Is there a big taste difference?

I've noticed that you use unbleached - and I'm interested in less chemicals in our lives, but I'm not sure how it will affect flavor.


Nurse Heidi said...

Excellent question, Katy. I switched to unbleached about a year ago and haven't looked back. I think there's a big flavor difference, and I particularly notice it in my rustic breads. After being on unbleached for quite a while, I went to visit my sister and opened a bucket of her bleached flour and was immediately assaulted by the chemical aroma. Ick. If you're a Utah local, I prefer Lehi Roller Mills Turkey blend, which can be purchased either at the mill or at Costco, and it's actually cheaper at Costco. Buying it in the small bags at the grocery store is spendy, but the bulk bags are very reasonable.