Hummus among us

Hummus is a miracle food in more ways than one.  Not only is it super nutritious, but really versatile and really cheap to make.  Besides great flavor, hummus has lots of protein, fiber and good fats.  I use hummus as:

  • An appetizer with pita bread or pita chips
  • A sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise
  • A dip for raw vegetables like carrots, celery and broccoli
  • A side dish with rotisserie chicken
  • An ingredient in a falafel
  • A snack by itself
Classic hummus
Classic hummus

Now most middle easterners would probably disagree with me, but you can make hummus in many different ways with all kinds of ingredients.  While classic hummus is nutty and earthy from the chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (sesame paste) and olive oil, you can go crazy with the ingredients.  I do love the traditional ingredients with lots of lemon and raw garlic.  Here is my standard recipe:

Garlicky Hummus

  • 1 can of chickpeas (rinsed)
  • 2T Tahini
  • 2T Olive oil
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t cumin
  • About 4T water
  • Fresh ground pepper

Put all these ingredients (except water) into the food processor and blend.  Add water until it turns into a smooth paste.  The longer you blend the smoother it will get.  Adjust the amount of tahini, olive oil, lemon and garlic to suit your taste.  To serve as an appetizer, spread onto the center of a large plate and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and cumin, drizzle of olive oil and some fresh, chopped parsley.  Serve with pita bread.  YUM!

Hummus ingredients
Hummus ingredients

Variations

There are an infinite number of variations.  Consider these ideas:

  • Roast the garlic before adding it to the mix.
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Substitute a different kind of beans for the chickpeas.  Pinto beans give you a creamier texture with a slightly different taste.
  • Substitute a nut butter for the tahini.  I’ve never tried this but I think cashew butter would be good.
  • Substitute a nut oil for the olive oil.  Walnut or hazelnut oil adds a nutty flavor.

As I write this, I’m imagining a mexican-themed hummus using pinto beans, onions. cumin and oregano.  Then served as a dip for tortilla chips garnished with chopped cilantro and cotija cheese.  Mmmm… I better run out and get some chips!!!

Put your shoulder into it

Well, not exactly YOUR shoulder- pork shoulder.

I love pork shoulder for many reasons:

  • It’s cheap!  I paid $1.39/lb for the last one I bought, but I often can find them for $0.99/lb.
  • It’s easy!  It doesn’t need a lot of prep.
  • It’s versatile!  Once cooked it can be used as an ingredient in many ways.
  • It’s delicious!  It does have some fat on it, but as a result is super tasty.
Pork shoulder
Pork shoulder

Pork shoulder is one of those cuts that needs to cook a long time.  Unless you’re good with the pressure cooker, don’t even think about pulling a shoulder out of the fridge an hour before dinner time!  I either slow roast it in the oven for 3-4 hours at 275F degrees or put it in the crock pot.  Either way, I simply season it with some salt and pepper and then let time and heat do the work.  Cook it long enough so that it’s tender.  A good test is to try to pick it up by the bone- the meat should practically fall off.  So now that you have this cooked shoulder, what do you do with it?

Meal #1: BBQ Pulled Pork and slaw wraps

My inspiration for this was a southern bbq pork and slaw sandwich.  I don’t like the sweet and sour taste of most slaws so I make my own with no sugar or vinegar.  Mine has a much fresher, lighter taste.  I’ll do a future write up on my many variations of slaw.  I also don’t like all the sugar you get from commercial bbq sauce so I make my own.  Pulled pork is best with a sauce of mostly vinegar anyway.  The vinegar really helps cut the richness of the pork.  Whole grain tortillas took the place of white buns.

I took a hunk of the pork and shredded it with a fork.  Don’t cut it first because you want long, stringy fibers.  I added some homemade BBQ sauce consisting of ketchup, cider vinegar, onion and garlic powder, liquid smoke and a bit of stevia to make it a little sweeter.  A minute in the microwave and it was tasty BBQ pulled pork.  I made a really simple fresh slaw of red and green cabbage sliced very thinly with a bit of mayo, cream, celery salt and pepper.  My wife had the whole thing rolled into a burrito shape, while I turned the same ingredients into taco-shaped things using two smaller tortillas.  (Sorry, no pics for this one.)

Fried pork
Fried pork

Meal #2: Pork with quinoa pilaf

The wonderful texture of carnitas was an inspiration for this.  I love the soft, tender pork with crisp, chewy edges.  The ingredients were just what I had on hand, which is the way my recipes often come together.  This took all of about 10 minutes to come together.

I cut the pork into chunks and then fried it in a nonstick skillet until it was hot and sizzling.  The longer you cook it, the crisper the edges will get.

Pork with quinoa
Pork with quinoa

I already had some cooked quinoa in the fridge.  I microwaved it for a minute with fresh garlic, green onions and bit of butter and salt to turn it into a very tasty and low glycemic pilaf.  A little cheese and my homemade habanero hot sauce on the pork and it all came together into a very tasty breakfast. mmmm….

This is just a tiny fraction of the variations of things you could make with a pork shoulder.  Here are some more ideas…

  • My dad is from China and used to cook a shoulder and eat it with a dipping sauce of 1/2 soy sauce and 1/2 sesame oil.  There’s also a chinese green onion and ginger sauce that would go well.
  • Fry it up and use it as carnitas.  You could add a tiny bit of orange juice and oregano into the pan to add the hint of mexican flavors traditionally used for carnitas.
  • Put on a cuban sandwich along with ham, pickles and cheese.  Fry the whole sandwich with a weight on it, like a panini.

I hope this gives you some ideas for creations of your own.  Post a comment and tell us what you did with your shoulder!

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-kai