May 17, 2010

Picnic Dinner in the Park

By now you know that Sunday night dinners have become a tradition for me.   I love having friends over for dinner, and Sundays are just the perfect time to relax before the hectic work week starts again.  I don’t always do something ambitious, but this time, I wanted to picnic.  It’s finally nice enough to eat outside, and since I’m in the West Village, I like to think of the green space and piers off the Westside Highway as my own personal backyard. Sam and I had tried this shredded pork dish I found on Saveur one night when we were out in New Jersey visiting my parents.  It was delicious and even better the next day on a roll with a red cabbage slaw and I wanted to try it for our dinner party.  Although this dish required a large heavy pot and 3 ½ hours in an oven, I decided I would attempt it on the hotplate, just in my Dutch oven. It ended up not quite as tender as the first try in a real kitchen, but not half bad considering my limited resources.  Paired with cheddar grits, and packed up for a picnic, it made for a lovely Sunday night dinner, en plein air.

Shredded Pork Shoulder (adapted from The Kitchn)
Serves 5

3 pound pork shoulder, bone-in
1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons cumin

1 ½ teaspoons paprika

½ tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into wedges

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 12-ounce beer (I used Yuengling)

Trim the pork shoulder of any thick layers of fat. Combine the brown sugar, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the pork with the spice mixture, getting into crevices and on the sides. Allow the pork to sit for about 30 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pot. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, and beer. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to bring up any browned bits.
Return the pork to the pot. Cover and let simmer 3 ½ to 4 hours, checking once or twice, until the meat is extremely tender and pulls away from the bone easily. Shred the pork in the pot, using tongs to separate the meat from the fat. Discard the bone or set aside for another use.
Serve the meat with several spoonfuls of the vegetables and sauce.

Cheddar Grits
Makes 5 small side servings

OK, I admit it.  All I had were instant grits so I just used those.  I know, not the most culinary of choices, but it was fast and tasted great!

4 packages instant grits
2 c. water
2 tbsp. butter
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
dash of salt

Boil water in a sauce pan.  Add the grits (about a cup), whisking constantly.  Once the grits have become smooth, after about 2 minutes of whisking, add the butter and combine.  Fold in the cheese and season as needed.  Warm up just before serving so the mixture does not solidify.


  1. Thanks for sharing!! Will enjoy your roast recipe very soon!

  2. Hi Erin! I love this blog and can't wait to make this meal. I looove that you paired the pork with my fav...cheese grits! Congrats on your engagement!

  3. Thanks, Yoshika! I can only hope my grits would have lived up to your high expectations!


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