Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Love and Barbeque

It was a perfect day for an August wedding. There was a faint tint of summer becoming fall in Holliston, and the white wash of the church stood out against the bright colors of the blue sky that crowned it and the old buildings that surrounded it. There was such love between the newlyweds on Saturday, and it was quite the sight to see.

I think it was Aaron (one of the best men) who said that, to paraphrase, many quotes about marriage talk about imperfection. He quoted Rocky (“She's got gaps and I got gaps, and between the two of us, our gaps meet and we sort of fill each other in.”) and McLoughlin (“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”). He talked about how Galen and Amy, now the fabulous Mr. And Mrs. Wall, created a home where he felt there will always a couch and a cold beer waiting for the people who need it.

His and Alex’s (the other best man) speeches really touched me. Actually, the whole wedding thing had my gears turning.

This is the “Love” part of this post, so bear with me if you would.

The Happy Couple: Amy and Galen (my cousin)

Aaron was right: Love isn’t perfect. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of concept. Your Soul Mate can make you angry. You can make the Love Of Your Life cry. Everyone around you seems to have The Advice for The Perfect Relationship that, apparently, you’re  not in. Then they go on to say what you are ready for and what you aren’t. Like when to get married, for example.

I think the best way to tell how a wedding ceremony and reception truly affects you is how much you can relate to the couple in question. Here there was this woman with the larger than life personality marrying a man where all you needed to do was dig a little deeper to see just how broad he is… and I saw it. I saw a bit of the boyfriend and myself there, surrounded by loved ones and dancing our first dance and eating our cake. I saw the ceremony that formally sealed the pact we have already informally created. I saw the life we shared together, and I was inspired.

I knew then what I had already known: we are in love and it’s quite possibly the forever kind. The love we share isn’t perfect, thank goodness. If it was, then it wouldn’t get better and we wouldn’t learn a thing. We wouldn’t make mistakes or progressions that led to personal enlightenment by stepping outside the box for a change.

Love isn’t just a concept for when things are wonderful, new, and perfect. Love is the idea where every emotion on the sentiment spectrum applies. You take what you have, and what may not be the likeliest cohesion just may surprise you both.

Take weddings and barbeques, two things that definitely make a right.

I think this is a good time as any to add in the “Barbeque” part of the title. It must have been two weeks ago when I decided to make pulled-pork barbeque in the presser cooker. The result was a perfectly succulent meat substance… with an overpoweringly spicy and watery broth. Now make no mistake you guys, I dig spice and I dig spicy even more. Get me a ghost chili pepper and I’ll make something from it. But I was disappointed, however, because I wanted a kick that didn’t kick the Burt-man to his knees and a sauce that truly delivered.

Then I remembered there was still half a grain-free nectarine crisp still in the fridge. And Mama Dazz did say she wanted me to incorporate it for that night’s dinner…

It went very well with the plantains*.

Pulled-pork Barbeque

2 lb Pork roast, cubed
24 oz Chicken stock
1 oz Dry white wine
4 tbsp. Olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
1 Yellow onion (sm.), finely diced
1 Carrot, finely diced
2 Garlic cloves, finely diced or crushed
3 tbsp. Salsa fresca
2 tsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Chili pepper flakes
2 tsp. Paprika, preferably “smoked”
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Sea salt
1/2 tsp. Ground pepper

3 – 4 Ripe nectarines, peeled and halved
2 oz Almond meal (not flour)
2 tbsp. Almond slivers
1 tbsp. Honey

Place all of the ingredients, except the last four, into the pressure cooker on med-high heat (with the lid securely fastened) for 45 minutes to an hour.
Turn off the heat and let it sit until the pressure has subsided (about half an hour).
Remove the lid and in a large bowl or saucepan, scoop up the cubed pork and break them into strands.
Add the remaining ingredients to the broth and cook on medium to medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
Turn of the heat and with a hand mixer (or very carefully with a typical blender due to splashing), emulsify until the sauce is consistent.
Place the pork back in with the liquid.
Serve over your favorite bread as an open sandwich with a side of plantains.

Serves 8 – 10 people.

*For the plantains: Peel 3 – 4 and cut them each into four equal chunks. Flattened them at least 1/4” thick (I did this with my tortilla press in between a gallon-sized Ziploc® bag, formed them into a letter fold), and place them on a greased, aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and “steam” them for 45 minutes at 350°F. Set the oven at “broil” and brown both sides to your preference of doneness. Makes 12 – 16 pieces and can serve 4 – 8 people as a side/starter dish.

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