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Mike’s Birthday Dinner Part 1: Pulled Pork and Mac & Cheese Tarts

15 Nov

Since it has been mostly a birthday theme lately, I figured I’d wrap it up with the meal I made for Mike on his actual birthday (as opposed to our dining at Lincoln, which was a few days later).  I asked Mike what he wanted, and while it wasn’t quite as epic an undertaking as last year, it was still fun.  He asked that I cook something I never have before.  I decided it was time to try to make pulled pork.

I got a recipe that sounded right up our alley… it involved salt and whiskey.


It requires a day of brining before preparing, so I set it up to brine in 1 cup salt, 1 cup sugar, Thyme (1 sprig), 2 shots whiskey and 1 Tbl. mustard


When I took it out the next day, it semlled awesomely like whiskey.


I rinsed the sucker off.


And popped it into my awesome slow cooker, which is definitely becoming one of my alltime favorite appliances!


I came home at lunch and added a chopped onion and some seasoning.  It was supposed to have paprika, but I’m allergic, so I went with Italian seasoning.


Then I set it on low for 8 hours and started baking cookies for dessert.  That post is to come. And yes… I baked cookies on my lunch break.  Living next to my offices is AMAZING.  And I was gone for less than 45 minutes and brought back cookies for the whole office.  Not too shabby.


When I got home from work, I immediately set out upon starting my new creation of Mac & Cheese Tarts. You may remember that I made chicken tarts in the past, but I figured it would be fun to try them with mac & cheese instead.  And what’s the first thing you have to do when making homemade mac & chee?


Grate.  I hate grating.  I don’t know why this kitchen chore drives me so nuts, but I’m always nicking my fingers or getting down to a nub that I don’t know what to do with.  On the wish list: Automatic cheese grater.

My version of homemade mac & cheese is pretty simple.  Cook pasta.  Melt in cheese of choice.  This time it was sharp cheddar.

I then took that mac and cheese and mixed it with sliced grape tomatoes, chives, and mushrooms.  I then put it in the croissant lined cups and topped it with a dash of breadcrumbs.


They baked for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees until the corners started to get brown.


Highly delectable, but would make it with more flavorful cheese next time.  For sharp cheddar, it was pretty blah.


For a quick appetizer, I found some beautiful heirloom tomatoes.


And I cut up some smoke mozzarella and topped it all with basil and a splash of olive oil.  The smoked mozzarella added an awesome pop to this.


As a side, I took some a multicolor cauliflower/broccoli pack from and roasted them up.


For some odd reason, I guess there was a chemical reaction that created a bright BLUE color.  If you look in the top right corner of the dish in the picture below, you will see it.  What on earth it was, I have no idea, but we ate it anyway.


And then… the timer went off.


It smelled so good in there. And it “pulled” very easily.  All you need are some tongs or a fork and it all just comes right off.


I put it into a bowl with the skin and fat and drippings.  MMM MMM MMM.


I baked up some pre-made, par baked bread (I still have yet to go back and try bread again after the catastrophe of the last time).


It was delicious, but I thought it tasted a wee bit better with some worcestershire sauce.  Next time, I think I’ll make a sauced pulled pork instead of a dry one.