Stars and strips

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am

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On Wednesday, Americans will be celebrating their Independence Day with barbecues, picnics and potlucks. It is somewhat of a tradition to serve hotdogs, hamburgers and chicken, but you don't need to limit your Fourth of July celebration to just those. Pulled pork is one dish that can satisfy a large group - it can be made in advance and it just needs to be reheated before your guests arrive. Many people would serve it with beer, but I'm also giving a couple of recipes for easy, thirst-quenching drinks.

Pulled pork sliders (pictured)If you're feeding more than 10 normal eaters (or six large eaters), supplement the pulled pork with a couple of hearty meat, seafood or vegetable dishes. Coleslaw is the traditional accompaniment to pulled pork, but shredded celeriac and carrot salad (dressed with lemon juice and olive oil) and kimchi (trust me, it really works) are also delicious.

This recipe was developed by food stylist Nellie Ming Lee.

60ml cooking oil

3kg pork belly

3 medium-sized onions, diced

250 grams ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried chilli flakes, or to taste

2 cans (about 400 grams each) chopped Italian tomatoes

75 grams honey

125ml cider vinegar

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh lemon juice (optional)

Mini slider buns

Cut the pork belly into large pieces. Use paper towels to dry the meat and skin.

Heat the cooking oil over a medium-high flame in a Dutch oven big enough to fit all the ingredients. When the oil is hot, add the pork belly, skin-side down - do this in batches, if necessary. Take care, because the oil will splatter. Brown the pork belly then turn it over and brown the other side. Remove the meat from the pan, leaving behind the fat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, over a medium-high flame until lightly browned. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they're wilted and the skin is a little charred in spots. Use a large strainer to remove the onion and tomatoes from the pan.

Turn the heat to low. Add the paprika and chilli flakes and stir for about 30 seconds. Stir in the canned tomatoes, honey and vinegar, then season with salt. Bring to the boil then put the pork, onion and cherry tomatoes back into the pan. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to very low, cover the pan with the lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Stir the ingredients then cover with the lid, place in the oven and cook for several hours, stirring every 30 minutes. The meat is ready when it's very tender.

Use metal tongs to take the meat out of the pan, leaving behind all the other ingredients. Put the pan over a medium-low flame and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is slightly reduced - it should be thick enough to thickly coat the meat. Skim off as much fat as possible.

When the meat is just cool enough to handle but still warm (it pulls apart more easily when warm), take off the skin and set it aside (or if you don't want it, discard it). Pull the pork into fine shreds. If you want to use the skin, cut it into small dice and add it to the meat. When the sauce is reduced, turn off the heat and add the meat (and skin) back into the pan. (If you're making it in advance, cool it down at this point, then refrigerate it. Reheat it over a low flame before proceeding.) Add freshly ground black pepper then taste the ingredients for seasoning and adjust if necessary. The flavour should be a little tangy, so add a little cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice if needed.

Slice the slider buns in two, pile the pulled pork and some sauce on top and serve with a sharp-tasting coleslaw, celeriac and carrot salad, or kimchi.

Sangria

This tastes mild but it's potent. I like the drink best when it's made with white wine (sangria blanco), but whatever you choose, the bottle should be drinkable on its own, although it shouldn't be too expensive.

1 bottle red or white wine, well-chilled

60ml orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec), or more, if desired

2 cans 7Up, well-chilled

1 or 2 oranges

1 or 2 apples

Seedless grapes, halved

Slice the ends from the orange, cutting down far enough to expose the flesh. Lay the orange on one flat end then use a small serrated knife to slice away the skin and pith, cutting from top to bottom and following the contours of the fruit. Dice the flesh of the orange. Peel and core the apple, then dice the flesh.

Pour the wine into a large pitcher (or two smaller ones) then stir in the orange liqueur and 7Up. Add the fruit to the pitchers. Pour the sangria into tall glasses that are filled with ice, spooning the fruit into the glasses as needed.

Bellinis

I had one of these last year at Harry's Bar, in Venice, Italy, the bar where the drink is said to have been invented. It's a delicious drink that's not at all difficult to make, but you need ripe, fragrant, sweet peaches. I use the flat 'doughnut' peaches.

1 bottle of Prosecco, well-chilled

3-4 (depending on size) ripe peaches

Cold sugar syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal weight of water), optional

Peel the peaches and remove the pits. Mash the flesh then spoon it into tall glasses. If you like, stir in a little sugar syrup. Tilt the glass as you pour in the Prosecco. Give the ingredients a brief stir then serve immediately.

Styling Nellie Ming Lee

 

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