Month: May 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin by Robert Deutsch

Don’t Waste Bananas! Perfect Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

My kids seems to eat more bananas than nearly-cramping athletes during two weeks at the French Open (see this article about tennis players and bananas).
It’s hard even keeping them in stock. But once in a while, there comes a week at my house where the number of bananas purchased and the number consumed are terribly mismatched.  This results in yellow bananas streaked with brown, which continue on to become all-brown bananas, until a new batch comes, ensuring that they will be eaten and the previous batch will be completely ignored, freeing the brown bananas to march down their inevitable path to become black, and slug-like.

It is not new or even noteworthy to suggest that this is the time to make banana bread.   But I have found over the years that Banana Bread (unless yours has a reputation for being moist and delicious) is the non-Christmas equivalent of Fruitcake.   You make one not because you wanted to make something, but because poor inventory control drove you to create a by-product.  A sort of bake-regifting?

I have found that by making muffins (or cupcakes if you frost them) with chocolate chips in them makes them seem more like an exciting, purposeful dessert item (that I let my kids eat for breakfast) instead of a “here let me offload my banana detritus on you” item.

This recipe is a tweaked version of the one I originally found on the Cookbook Chronicles (which I suppose due to all of its recipes being turned into a book is no longer available on line) but obviously has adjustments from other recipes I read.

Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1⁄2 cup canola oil
  • 3⁄4 cup brown sugar
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 Bananas, preferably black, oozing and slug-like
  • 6 oz fat-free yogurt (I like Stonyfield, but I always use whatever I have in the kitchen; I find flavored yogurt makes them too sweet).
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Toppings

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners or grease with favorite emollient.

Mix the wet ingredients: sugar(s), oil, and eggs one at a time.  When it is yellow and satiny, add the bananas, yogurt and vanilla.

Mix the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, packing powder and cinnamon and nutmeg if using.  Whisk until everything is one uniform color.   Add the chocolate chips.

Combine and mix until flour has disappeared, do not OVERMIX.

Pour into liners.   Sift cinnamon sugar atop.   Bake for about 25 minutes.   Remove and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Turn out and serve warm if possible.

Two end notes: 

  1. Muffin sizing: This recipe seems to make about 16 regular size (not overflowing) muffins or 12 super-sized muffins.    When for various reasons I have more than 12 muffins worth, I go to a second muffin pan and fill empty spaces with water, they come out fine. However, I am likely to invest in one of these super-size pans that makes fatter-than-usual muffins.  Just an FYI.
  2. Storage: These are pretty moist and so I don’t recommend covering them tightly; they will get super-moist to the point where they are unappealing.  Store them ‘lightly covered’ at room temperature and make sure to give them away in the first two days if you haven’t devoured them by then.

Kings of Pastry (MOF)

Kings of Pastry, The Greatest Food Documentary of All Time

The movie poster for the documentary Kings of Pastry, from kingsofpastry.com

When I first saw the preview for a movie titled the “Kings of Pastry”  at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA, I my jaw dropped.  I knew instantly that it would be a great movie, but I had no idea how affecting it would be. (You can check out the video here)  One review called it “the culinary Hurt Locker” while another review cited its incredible tension and disaster scenes. The (UK) Guardian said “I never saw so many strong men sobbing at once.”

If you have ever fretted about how something would come out in the kitchen, worried a cake would fall, or like me, knocked over a two-days-in-the-making cheesecake at 9pm on the night before the big holiday you had to serve it for, you will laugh, scream and cry at this movie.

The directors, Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker are famous for their previous documentaries, “The War Room” and “Don’t Look Back,” the former being one of the greatest political documentaries of all time, regardless of party affiliation.

We ended up watching Kings of Pastry on cable, and about 20 minutes into it my kids got on the couch and we were all glued to it until the lip-biting, yelling-at-the-TV ending, which I think is high praise for a documentary about grown men subtitled from its all French-speaking version.

I am a fan of shows and competitions on the Food Network, but this one, if you will pardon my very old and bad pun, takes the cake.

Caramels, Soft or Chewy?

Caramels, Sea Salt, Creamy Caramels

This is the pan of just-hardening caramels with sea salt on top of it.

Sugar being boiled; Caramels being boiled

Candy Thermometer being used to make caramels.

A lot of people make plans for the holiday like going to the beach.  I always like to take the time to try out something new in the kitchen.  Over the past few days I have made a challah (recipe coming soon) banana chocolate chip muffins (ditto) and caramels.

I took the caramel recipe from thekitchn.com, a site almost certainly born out of the lack of available top-level domain names.    However, I like the conversational tone of the recipe, and the clearly written advice throughout.

The recipe can be found here and is worth checking out.    I had most of the ingredients, but I needed a candy thermometer.  Luckily, there’s a restaurant supply shop nearby, so for less than 10 dollars I walked out with a clip on candy thermometer that has helpful demarcations like “soft ball” and “hard ball.”

I think the recipe might need some tweaking, because the final came out both bland and too hard.  Of course, I blame it all on being a candy-rookie, because I know by Labor Day  I’ll be getting it just right.

No Risk Hummus!

Best Israeli Hummus Ever Recipe

Hummus served to me in Israel. Delicious, creamy, complex and so satisfying

I have sworn off ever buying mass-produced hummus again, and this was BEFORE THE LISTERIA RECALL from Trader Joe’s and Target (you can read about that here, if you want). Why? Because when I do try them, they almost all have the same problem: no taste, or a taste so very weak it’s not worth eating.     For me, the key difference in hummus is whether you want it to be the consistency of a creamy dip, that drips off your carrot after dunking, or of a peanut-butter like paste that holds its shape and can hold a piece of celery upright.   Though I think hummus should be creamy, the best reviews I’ve gotten have been from making it more paste-like. I love hummus because it’s within the parameters of a diet, and aside from its fat grams, is one of the healthiest things you can eat with vegetables.

My mind was totally blown on a recent trip to Israel by how world-rockingly different and delicious their hummus was.   Like my experience in Seattle where ALL Kale Caesar salads were terrific, even the worst hummus in Israel was fantastic.  It’s a mystery— how is it so simple and so complex at the same time?   Why do I want to put it on absolutely everything?   Why was I so sad when the bowl was empty?   It should also be said that the Pita there was warm, strong and doughy, with incredible body and texture:  i.e.,  NOTHING at all like the thin, flavorless soft-particleboard they pass off here.

Determined to create an incredible hummus to match my experience in Israel (hint: don’t serve it cold) I searched for Middle Eastern recipes, though the one I found and tweaked was from a non-Middle Eastern health blog, the Amy Layne Paradigm Blog   I had to keep it tweaking it to my liking, but I finally found the secret ingredients that made me (and my friends from Israel) happy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) chick peas (also called garbanzo beans)
  • 4 peppadews, hot or sweet
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use tamari)
  • 3 super-heaping teaspoons of tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of reserved chick pea water (to taste– you may need only a little bit)
  • juice of 1 lemon (or more, again, to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • salt an pepper to taste

I make this in stages, by adding ingredients and then blending.   You are obviously free to put everything in and hit blend all at once. First, after draining chickpeas, rinse them.  I find this is a very important step in using canned chick peas. I am told that in the Middle East (where I doubt they ever use canned chick peas) they remove the outsides of each chick pea (the skin) for an even creamier consistency.  I have tried this, and it does make a difference, but not one that warrants the effort. Place the peeled garlic and peppadews in a cuisinart.   Blend.   Add the olive oil and soy sauce.  Blend.    Add the tahini and blend.    Add the chick peas and blend till mixed and pasty.   Then add the chick pea water, and juice of one lemon.   Blend.   Add the spices and blend.   Let the cuisinart run for a while. Spoon into a bowl; in Israel it was customary to serve hummus in a bowl with whole chickpeas and olive oil, sometimes with parsley and paprika, too.  You may need to step away from the bowl, or get your own bowl.   But whatever you do, don’t go back to the store.

UPDATE: After I published this recipe, I got a lot of flak from various corners of people claiming it was “inauthentic” and “preposterous” for its use of soy sauce.   Both of those things may be true, but I am telling you that it is hands down one of the most popular things I make.   Besides the approval of Israelis, I recently encountered a woman who had been experimenting with hummus to get “just the right flavor” but to no avail.   She was so happy when she tried mine— she had been going authentic and not getting the results she dreamed of.

Now let me clear—I do not advocate making cake from a box mix or mac and cheese in a microwave (a shanda), but I stand by this recipe, with all of its flaws.

Need a Recipe for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day? Here’s One!

chocolate_chip_cookies

Incredibly yummy home-made chocolate chip cookies

PULL UP A CHAIR, this will take a while. Chocolate chip cookies to me are like coffee.  They are so simple that they’ve been made for hundreds of years, and yet, like coffee, the methods to make, the final product, and their essence and qualities are the subject of endless debate.   Do you like your chocolate chip cookies thick and chewy or thin and crispy? Thick and crispy?   Do you like super-sweet, milk-chocolate chips or the more traditional semi-sweet?  Big or little?  How about the cookie dough?  That used to my favorite thing until I wised up, and quit eating it from the roll AND started to make it myself.  For about 7 years, I have engaged in the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie.   And I have concluded one thing, categorically: it does not exist.  It is like finding the perfect cup of coffee.   For everyone, from the cup to the temperature, from what goes in it to the surrounds in which it is consumed, it is different for everyone.

That being said, the Nestle Toll House Recipe that’s on the back of the Nestle chips bag (I use Ghiradelli) is totally solid, and will produce very eatable cookies.  There are some tricks I learned that are valuable, such as using salt, using more vanilla, the amount of brown sugar vs. white sugar and whether you melt the butter or chill the cookies. In my years, I have come up with a few guidelines that I keep in mind for anytime I step up to the Kitchenaid.

  1. I will not use chunks.  If you want to eat chunks of chocolate go ahead, the chips are the perfect size for just the right amount of chocolate-cookie ratio.  The chunks are too much for me, and overwhelm the experience.
  2. “Extras.”Don’t even ask me about SHANDAS like including m&ms, peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips or especially WALNUTS. Those things have their place, but not in my chocolate chip cookies. Really, don’t ask.  I’ll delete your email and block you forever. Or maybe I won’t do those things but you’ll be on my list.
  3. Heavy pour the sugar and the vanilla.  These ingredients are the foundations of the cookie, and I think keeping strictly to the amounts called for in the recipe is for bean-counters. Lay it on!  (Same goes for butter).
  4. Combinations are good and encouraged! (Except where #2 is concerned).  Use cake flour and/or bread flour and definitely use brown and white sugar. Sometimes I will throw a few milk chocolate chips or even darker chips in with the semi-sweets.
  5. Salt is a must!  Nothing brings out the flavor of the chocolate like salt.  I am a believer.  But you can overdo it. It has to be enough to tickle the savory taste buds, but not so much that someone can easily recognize it. I generally use a heavy teaspoon of kosher salt.  Some people like to add sea salt on top at the end, but I think that’s overkill.
  6. Refrigerate your cookie dough and Use balls instead of slices. Much to my chagrin, I have found that this helps with the baking of uniform cookies that don’t spread too much and keep their chewy texture.

You can and must go to Cook’s Illustrated (and pay) so you can study their masterpiece, “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies” which is required reading if you are going to make manifest your serious quest for chocolate cookies.   You should know the science of making chocolate chip cookies, even though the truth is that a poorly constructed, fresh-from the oven chocolate chip cookie will be hungrily gobbled up no matter what.

I use The Cook’s Illustrated recipe as a base here, but with a few modifications. They suggest mixing and stopping but I don’t do that because I don’t have the patience.   Almost always, cookies are the answer to an urgent need, not a well-in-advance need, like bread, so my goal is to get them into the oven as fast as I can.  Sometimes I don’t chill the dough.   That’s life.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick is 8 tablespoons).(Melted and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • At least 1 and 1/4 cups of chocolate chips, I like Ghiradelli semi-sweet.
    (Add 1-2 tablespoons of light corn syrup for a crispier cookie).
  1. Melt the butter, set aside to cool.
  2. Cream sugars, and vanilla and eggs. Add butter (when cool).
  3. Mix dry ingredients well, and include the chips.
  4. Mix everything together but DON’T OVER MIX.
  5. Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Heat your oven 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Make balls and place on tray.
  7. Bake cookies for at least 10 minutes, and maybe up to 14.   Unless your mouth is immune to heat, let the cookies cool for at least 5 minutes so they retain a form you can pick up.  Eat them.  Love them.
  8. Celebrate.

 

The Kale Caesar Salad Secret of Seattle

Kale Caesar Salad Seattle

Massaging the kale is the secret to unlocking its full yumminess.

In 2013, I went to Seattle for three nights and had occasion to eat a Kale caesar salad not once or twice, but three times.  And every time it was fantastic beyond my wildest expectations.   How, I wondered, could they make Kale, the Castor Oil of salad greens, so delicious that I wanted to eat it every night?   I kept crawling the Internets but could never find anything.  Then I found two different recipes, one from Emmy Cooks (which was adapted from the Skillet in Seattle, where I first had the salad) and Serious Eats.   Emmy Cooks is nearly perfect except it left out parmesan; Serious Eats called for anchovies. Both of them call for croutons, which I skip because I am in constant war against carbs, but between them I figured out one great recipe.   Though it is common to cut the kale into ribbons, I don’t do that since I buy the ‘washed and cut’ bag from Whole Foods which I don’t feel the need to cut.   The secret is to massage the kale with olive oil and add a sprinkle of salt about 30 minutes to an hour before serving.  This makes a HUGE difference in the texture of the kale, which most people remember as plant-like with an unforgiving chew.    Once you’ve broken it down via olive oil massage, it is pleasantly crunch like the crisp end of a romaine, which is why it makes such a perfect Caesar.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese, (half sprinkled on the kale, and half for the dressing)
  • salt and pepper to taste, but definitely pepper

I originally used the Cuisinart for this dressing, but soon discovered that because only the garlic needed “smashing” that crushing it with a press meant I could hand whisk the dressing, which makes it faster and easier to clean up. You may find you need to adjust any of the given ingredients, particularly the lemon and parmesan, depending on consistency preferences.   Very often I will try to use less mayonnaise, as it is the least heart-healthy ingredient of the bunch.   I also find that if you oil up your kale, you can go without too much dressing.    Lastly, a few times I’ve had the oiled-up kale in bowl, people have come by, grabbed a piece and said ‘delicious,’ indicating that the dressing may be unnecessary?   Certainly from a caloric load it is. I will never ever go back to romaine.  Unless, that is, it’s grilled.  Thought it’s pretty obvious, you can see my recipe for Grilled Romaine Lettuce here. 

A Few of My Favorite Ingredients

Baking ingredients

The trifecta of happiness for baking: Kate’s Butter, King Arthur Flour and Vietnamese cinnamon

For me, there is no doubt that great products come from great ingredients.  Therefore, I have started to develop a preference for things as I moved from a naive beginner to a more experienced occupant of the kitchen. Most of the things in my kitchen come from Whole Foods, Penzey’s a regular supermarket or a local farm stand.   There are a lot of ingredients, especially for baking, that you can practically anywhere. Kate’s Butter.  I have used a lot of different butters, but I find I like the creaminess, the non-greasiness and flavor to be the best. I used to use only salted butter, but now I use unsalted, since most recipes call for that.  I figure, I can always add all the salt I want anyway. Love that they’re local to New England!  I want to support my local purveyors. Vietnamese Cinnamon.  Seems weird to have a preference here, but one day when my supermarket was out I tried another kind (I believe it was Indian) and immediately upon opening the bottle recoiled in horror.  This was not the cinnamon I knew– what was it?   For me, there is no substitute.  I do like the 365 organic, but I believe the country of origin is the most important thing for me. King Arthur Flour.  Simply, the best.  I have read countless blogs and articles about other types of flours, and obviously, it’s a combination of function, experience and availability.  For me, KA is the champ, in all versions; all-purpose, bread, cake and whole wheat white.   Not only that, they’re local to New England and their web site rocks.  I have gotten a number of go-to recipes there.

World’s Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Best chocolate cake recipe

These four pieces are all I could save to take a picture of. This cake never ever lasts.

Of all the things I make for people, this recipe is probably the single most requested.   I must admit, that I got the recipe from a web site, ingeniously titled “The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe.”  The recipe there is nearly perfect.  Yet I felt I had to make a few modifications from the original to make it the cake I wanted. I wanted my chocolate cake to taste like the sheet cakes we get from various party stores.  They were so moist, but with a distinct crumb that made you insane with chocolate cake happiness.  So many of the other recipes I tried were dry; too chocolatey; too fudgy; too wet.

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 2 Cups Sugar  (I always use a very, very heavy  cup).
  • 1/2 Cup Hershey’s Cocoa, 1/4 cup Hershey’s Dark Cocoa
  • 2 Teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare a 9×13 pan by spraying with PAM and laying in parchment paper.  I find this invaluable to getting the cake at the end, because I simply flip it so I can frost the flat side.

At Best Chocolate Cake, the recipe says “put everything into the bowl and mix.”   Years of baking experiments have taught me you mix the dry ingredients separate from the wet ingredients.

So, I start with the sugar, oil and mix.  Then, add the eggs one a time and mix till everything is satiny and creamy.   Add the buttermilk and continue to mix.

Mix the dry ingredients separately and after stopping the mixer, add them all (including the chips).   Mix until just barely combined; DO NOT OVERMIX.  Overmixing will ruin a cake (or muffin, or anything).

Add the boiling water (I do this by boiling water in a pot, then quickly adding it to the measuring cup and into the bowl).  Mix briefly, pour into baking pan.   Then, I mix in the vanilla.  I know that sounds crazy.  But it works so like a superstitious baseball player, I just keep doing it the same way.

Bake at 300 F for about one hour.  I have found that this can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as how hot your oven runs; how dry you like your cake; how thin your baking pan is.   You can test it, but the cake has a high ‘deflating’ factor, meaning when you test the middle of the cake, you cause an unappealing sinkhole to appear.   Of course, this is mostly solved by frosting the other side, but basically leave it alone for 1 hour no matter what.

Take it out; let it sit until it cools, about 30 minutes.   Flip out and frost using your favorite recipe or my adapted version of King Arthur Flour’s quick buttercream frosting.  The only difference is I add salt and double the vanilla.  Yum.

“No Secrets” Brisket Recipe

Brisket, best brisket, passover brisket, Jewish holidays dinner, beef brisket, pot roast

Simple, flavorful traditional brisket requires no dried fruit, ketchup or soda

Whether you call it Pot Roast or Brisket it seems everyone has a recipe handed down from their Mom, that has a “secret.”   They are all so proud and mysterious: “I can’t tell you what it is.”   After years of experiments with everything from Manaschevitz wine to Heinz Ketchup, I can now conclude that my very favorite treatment of this piece of meat is the practically the simplest.   No ketchup, no wine, no dried fruit; no soda pop, no bay leaves.  Really, this has practically no extras; no secrets.  The reward:  the most incredible, flavorful, fall-apart-delicious brisket you will ever have.  Besides the obvious inspirations of my grandmother and mother-in-law, I found Arthur Schwartz’s web site very helpful.

Ingredients

  • 1 Flat cut brisket, about 5 lbs
  • 3-4 yellow or vidalia onions
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 4-5 ribs of celery
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper

Start with your cut of brisket.  I like to salt both sides, then score both sides with a serrated knife.   Then, I rub both sides of the brisket with olive oil, garlic and pepper.  And don’t skimp on any of them.

Prepare your dutch oven; I have a 6-quart Le Creuset pan.   I make everything in it; and that is why I can only use a 5-lb brisket.  Anything bigger won’t fit.  The most important ingredients are onions and carrots, onions impart the deep, savory flavor, and carrots the sweetness.  The celery adds a subtle flavor but you could leave it out if you don’t have any.  Some people add potatoes and other root vegetables; I don’t.   Onions, carrots and celery.  That’s it, and in that volume order.  (You can and should salt the vegetables).

Lay your vegetables at the bottom of the pot.  Brown your brisket in a hot fry-pan.  I used to use my perfectly seasoned cast-iron skillet, until one day it mysteriously broke from being overheated.  When you have done both sides, and if you have the patience and coordination, the top and bottom fat edge of the meat; place it in the dutch oven on top of the vegetables.  Double-layer aluminum foil, cover, and place in your oven for four hours at 350 degrees.

When 4 hours is up, take the pot out of the oven. You will see why you don’t need an added liquid— the vegetables and meat create a delicious savory, soupy concoction often called ‘vetch.’  If you feel you need more liquid, I recommend about a cup of chicken stock– it is sufficiently mild as not to change the flavor.  But you don’t need it.

Carefully lift the brisket onto a board or cutting surface, and slice thin (you have to slice against the grain, which is a whole other post), then season to taste (might need more salt at this point), ladle with the drippings and place back in the oven for about an hour, or until your guests start complaining from delicious smells causing hunger.

Serve with rice, pasta, potatoes or on a big slab of bread.

 

Simple Pulled Pork Recipe

good pulled pork is simple

Aside from the pork butt, these are the only ingredients you’ll need

If you are looking for an easy pulled pork recipe, you’ve come to the right place. Now I am not, for a minute, claiming that this is better than the hundreds of other recipes for pulled pork there. There are those who have worked tirelessly on their own rub recipes, experimented with types of wood, smoking times or basting sauces, and generally suffered for their bbq art. I respect those people, and I certainly want to eat with those people.

But that wasn’t for me. I don’t have a smoker, I don’t have patience, and I have two children so I can’t tend to a piece of meat all day, no matter how much I want to. This led me to research “oven pulled pork” and found that most of them had three things in common: 1. Rub the night before 2. Cook for 7-9 hours on a low temperature (250-300 degrees) 3. Use some kind of sugar. With this in mind, I put together my own pulled pork recipe. It could not be simpler.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pork Butt (you can use pork shoulder), about 4-5 lbs
  • 1 bottle, Divine Swine Rub
  • 1 bottle root beer, I use Virgil’s
  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce, I use Blue Ribbon BBQ
  • Select vegetables: onions, celery, carrots

The day/night before you’re going to cook it, I used the Divine Swine Rub, that’s available from their web site or Whole Foods. The thing about BBQ seems to be that a dry rub must actually be rubbed into the meet, so be prepared to get your hands porked.

When you’re done, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it away. Forget about it. Don’t think about it.

The next day, I chopped up one vidalia or yellow onion, a few stalks of celery and a carrot. Place them in the bottom of a dutch-oven. I have a 6-quart Le Creuset.  Don’t fret about slicing or chopping or dicing; I have traditionally discarded the cooked vegetables afterwards.

Using a little stand (I am using the little metal prop that came with my wok to uphold the stream tray), place the pulled pork above the cut up vegetables. Then, pour the entire bottle of root beer over the pork. Seal/cover the dutch oven with two sheets of aluminum foil. Place into the oven at 300 degrees for about 8 hours. (You can put it in at 250 for 9 hours if you’re going to be away longer).

When done, remove the cover. The fat can easily be lifted off, and you want to then put the meaty pieces in a separate oven-safe dish. You may note that the meat “pulls” apart very easily. I use at least one fork for this process, and pull any big pieces into smaller strands of meat. When done, ladle or pour the BBQ sauce over it, and mix.

Keep warm, 170-200 until serving. Right before serving, add more sauce to moistness preference and taste. Every time I serve this, it has been a big hit. It keeps well (for sandwiches the next day) and with its low cost per pound, it is a very economical meal. I serve it with cole slaw, slider buns, pickles and maybe a starch like chips or rice. Enjoy!