I usually make my pulled pork in big batches and freeze it to use later. That way, I get to mix up all kinds of creative dishes all year long — and this just so happens to be one of those dishes (using our mango sazon pulled pork from a few months ago).
First, let’s talk sides… like deep fried corn. Mmmm. I did a double breaded cilantro fried corn for this one, and it didn’t even need butter (which is saying something). Using a little Italian bread crumb mix and some finely chopped cilantro for flavor, I blanched the corn and used a standard breading procedure (it adheres really well if you do a double breading) before frying and it turned out great!
Then I did a little bit of sautéed mustard greens with a Polish bacon. I found it at a local market and had to try it — it had a kind of smoked paprika brine, which seemed interesting, and it definitely left my house smelling like bacon for days, but totally worth it. Since I bought it slab style, I did a small dice, rendered it, and sautéed the greens in it.
I came across grits in my early 20s and they were… all right. Grits were like porridge for me at that point, so I wasn’t a fan. But little did I know how wrong I was! When I moved to North Carolina, I started doing farm-to-table for this restaurant and found REAL grits. This guy and his daughter had a little farm and they had a lot of stone ground mountain grits. Honestly, I’ve never met its equal (I wish I could remember the farm’s name so I could order more!).
For the cheese grit cakes:
- 1 cup coarse ground grits
- 2 teaspoons salt and pepper
- 3 cups of water
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
- 1 cup Cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese, combined
- ½ cup milk or cream
- 2 cups of black beans
- 1 cup flour
Simmer grits in water, along with salt and pepper. Continually stir to keep from sticking. Watch your grits as you may need to add water periodically. At the end of cooking, add the lemon zest and juice, cheeses, and milk or cream. Let cool. Add black beans and flour. Make into 2 oz. patties and pan fry.
And last but not least, a whole mess of tostones, which are double fried plantains. They’re pretty easy to make and they don’t last long at our house. This batch went particularly well with the mango sazon.
For the tostones:
Cut the plantain into large sections (not quarters, like 2 inch sections). Lightly fry it like a french fry at 250 degrees. Let it cool. Smash it down and fry it again at 350 degrees until it’s as crisp as you can get it without burning it. For this recipe, I tossed it with a bit of cumin, onion powder, cracked salt, and sugar.