One of America’s Favorites – Pig Pickin’

July 17, 2017 at 4:53 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A pig pickin’ (also known as rolling a pig, pig pull, pig roast or, among the Cajun, “cochon de lait”) is a type of party or gathering held primarily in the American South which involves the barbecuing of a whole hog (the castrated male pig or barrow, bred for consumption at about 12 weeks old). Females, or gilts, are used as well. Boars (full-grown intact males) and sows generally are too large.

Many Southern families have a pig roast for Thanksgiving or Christmas, graduations, weddings, or summer gatherings. Some communities hold cook-offs during festivals, where cooks compete against one another for prize money.

 

A pig, often around 80–120 pounds dressed weight, is split in half and spread onto a large charcoal or propane grill. Some practitioners use a separate stove filled with hardwood to produce coals which are then transferred under the charcoal grill by shovel; others use charcoal with chunks of either blackjack oak, hickory wood or some other hardwood added for flavor. The style of these grills are as varied as the methods of producing them, some being homemade while others are custom-made.

There is a long-running debate among barbecue enthusiasts over the merits of different fuels. Propane is said to maintain a consistent temperature, whereas charcoal or charwood are often touted as producing better-tasting meat.

The cooking process is communal and usually directed by an authority figure; the host is helped by friends or family. It usually takes four to eight hours to cook the pig completely; the pig is often started “meat-side” down, and then is flipped one time once the hog has stopped dripping rendered fat. Some practitioners clean ashes from the skin with paper towels or a small whisk broom before flipping the hog to help produce high quality cracklings from the skin.

Often the hog is basted while cooking, though the method and sauce used differs according to region. For instance, a typical South Carolina Piedmont-area baste would be a mustard based sauce, an Eastern North Carolina baste is usually a very light vinegar based sauce with red pepper flakes, and Western North Carolina barbecue uses sauce with a ketchup base similar to traditional barbecue sauce.

When the cooking is complete, the meat should ideally be tender to the point of falling off of the bone. The meat is then either chopped or pulled into traditional Carolina-style pork barbecue, or it is picked off the hog itself by the guests. It is from the latter that the gathering gains its name. The barbecue is sometimes eaten with hushpuppies (fried cornmeal, occasionally flavored with onions), coleslaw, baked beans or sometimes Brunswick stew. In South Carolina, it is common to serve pilaf or hash as a side dish. Hash is a blend of leftover pork mixed with barbecue sauce and usually served over rice.

Sweet tea, beer, and soft drinks are often served.

 

The pig pickin’ is a significant part of the culture of the South; the necessary work and time needed to cook the hog makes it ideal for church gatherings (“dinner on the grounds”) or family reunions, and they can be held virtually year-round thanks to the region’s mild winters. Pig pickin’s are popular amongst the most devoted tailgaters at college football games across the South. The pig pickin’ has been long associated with politics; many local political parties and politicians still use the pig pickin’ to attract people to meetings and campaign rallies.[citation needed] In 1983, Rufus Edmisten, running for Governor of North Carolina at the time, was overheard saying “I’ve eaten enough barbecue. I am not going to eat any more. I’m taking my stand and that is it.”

Culturally and culinarily different from traditional Deep South pig pickin’ events, pig roasts are a common occurrence in Cuba, as well as the non-mainland American state of Hawaii, with roasts being done in the traditions of those places.

 

 

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One of America’s Favorites – Stew

March 2, 2015 at 6:38 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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A beef stew

A beef stew

A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, beans, peppers and tomatoes, etc.), meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used. While water can be used as the stew-cooking liquid, wine, stock, and beer are also common. Seasoning and flavourings may also be added. Stews are typically cooked at a relatively low temperature (simmered, not boiled), allowing flavors to mingle.

Stewing is suitable for the least tender cuts of meat that become tender and juicy with the slow moist heat method. This makes it popular in low-cost cooking. Cuts having a certain amount of marbling and gelatinous connective tissue give moist, juicy stews, while lean meat may easily become dry.

Stews may be thickened by reduction or with flour, either by coating pieces of meat with flour before searing, or by using a roux or beurre manié, a dough consisting of equal parts of butter and flour. Thickeners like cornstarch or arrowroot may also be used.

Stews are similar to soups, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two. Generally, stews have less liquid than soups, are much thicker and require longer cooking over low heat. While soups are almost always served in a bowl, stews may be thick enough to be served on a plate with the gravy as a sauce over the solid ingredients.

 

Irish stew

Irish stew

Stews have been made since ancient times. Herodotus says that the Scythians (8th to 4th centuries BC) “put the flesh into an animal’s paunch, mix water with it, and boil it like that over the bone fire. The bones burn very well, and the paunch easily contains all the meat once it has been stripped off. In this way an ox, or any other sacrificial beast, is ingeniously made to boil itself.”

Amazonian tribes used the shells of turtles as vessels, boiling the entrails of the turtle and various other ingredients in them. Other cultures used the shells of large mollusks (clams etc.) to boil foods in. There is archaeological evidence of these practices going back 8,000 years or more.

There are recipes for lamb stews and fish stews in the Roman cookery book Apicius, believed to date from the 4th century AD. Le Viandier, one of the oldest cookbooks in French, written by the French chef known as Taillevent, has ragouts or stews of various types in it.

Hungarian Goulash dates back to the 9th century Magyar shepherds of the area, before the existence of Hungary. Paprika was added in the 18th century.

The first written reference to ‘Irish stew’ is in Byron’s “The Devil’s Drive” (1814): “The Devil … dined on … a rebel or so in an Irish stew.”

 

In meat-based stews, white stews, also known as blanquettes or fricassées, are made with lamb or veal that is blanched, or lightly seared without browning, and cooked in stock. Brown stews are made with pieces of red meat that are first seared or browned, before a browned mirepoix, and sometimes browned flour, stock and wine are added.
* Partial list of Tyes of Stews:

Brunswick stew made with chicken

Brunswick stew made with chicken

* Beef Stroganoff, a stew with beef from Russia
* Bigos, a traditional stew in Polish cuisine;
* Birria, a goat stew from Mexico;
*Booyah, an American meat stew
* Brunswick stew, from Virginia and the Carolinas
*Burgoo, a Kentuckian stew
* Chicken stew, whole chicken and seasonings
* Chicken paprikash, chicken stew with paprika
* Chili con carne, Mexican-American meat and chili pepper stew
Cincinnati chili, chili developed by Greek immigrants in the Cincinnati area
* Crow stew, a sour cream-based stew made with crow meat, popular in the United States during the Great Depression
* Goulash, a Hungarian meat stew with paprika
* Gumbo, a Louisiana creole dish
* Irish stew, made with lamb or mutton, potato, onion and parsley

 

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