Our street had a block party this weekend and the pulled pork biscuits I brought, from Hollis Wilder's new book, Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan, were a big hit - they disappeared in about five minutes.
These days I really don't have time to sit with things simmering on the stove and braising in the oven for hours at a time, but a slow-cooking item like BBQ pork that just gets more tender the longer it goes does quite well in the crock-pot, which I can leave on while I'm away. Plus, there's no real damage if I can't get to it at just the right time and have to leave it bubbling on the counter top for an extra few hours.
Buying pre-made biscuit dough (something I don't normally keep on hand) is also beyond my hours of availability: a special trip to the store just takes too long. Biscuit making seems to be one of those lost arts that is really much easier than anyone remembers. Plus, it's a good workout for upper arms. So I made my own instead of following the author's instructions.
For this recipe you'll need to make the pulled pork at least a day before you want to serve the biscuits. It needs a minimum of 8 hours on low in the crock-pot, but you can leave it for nearly twice that if you have to. You'll also want BBQ sauce to serve with the biscuits and some really good bread and butter pickles. Hollis Wilder includes a recipe for BBQ sauce, which I would love to try, but couldn't manage to do this time. Let me know how it is if you make it.
If you haven't made any biscuits lately (or haven't enjoyed any you have made), you might want to get a few kitchen tools to make things easier. I am incredibly lazy and like to output as little effort as possible, which is why I use these gadgets. But, I would never use a food processor or mixer for biscuits because getting the machine out, assembling it and then washing it up is far more work then just mixing the biscuits by hand in a bowl. If you don't want any new contraptions cluttering up your kitchen you can just use table knives instead, but I wouldn't.
I love my butter slicer because it cuts the appropriate amount of butter into nice sized pieces for making biscuits and pie crusts in two easy movements instead of the 15 or so it would take with a knife. First, I measure out the number of tablespoons of butter needed, cut off the remainder and put it away. Then, I unwrap the butter and slice it one way, then turn it 90˚, break the butter into whatever portion will fit under the slicer, and slice again.
A pastry blender is really useful for blending butter into a flour mixture for all types of pastry. It is not another electronic gadget to add to your repertoire, but just a little hand held doohickey with wire loops attached, almost like a whisk stretched out over a sturdy, horizontal handle.
To use it, hold tight to the handle (my handle sometimes slips and wiggles around independently of the wires, so I clamp my thumb over the top to keep the two parts together) and mash the butter into the flour, in a sort of up and down motion, as you rotate the bowl to make sure all the flour mixture gets some butter. When you are done, the largest remaining chunks of butter should be a little smaller than a pea, with most of the butter chunks smaller than that. This is called "cutting in the butter".
For clean up, a bench scraper makes short work of any sticky, floury bits you may be left with. Just hold the black handle and scrape them off your cutting board or other surface into the compost or garbage. So there it is - five minute biscuits to wrap around some slow-cooker pork. Dee-lish!
Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork: (adapted from Hollis Wilder's Savory Bites)
2 quarts beef broth
3/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoons cumin
3 Tablespoons chipotle chile
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup molasses
4-4 1/2 pounds pork shoulder (this will make about 48 little biscuits)
Mix everything except the pork shoulder in a measuring cup or other bowl with a pouring spout. Remove any netting from the pork shoulder, slice it into pieces (probably just in half) so that it covers the bottom of your crock-pot and salt it well. Pour the mixed liquid on top, it should at least cover the meat. If it doesn't, add some water.
Set the pot to cook on low for at least 8 hours. Overnight is a good amount of time, usually. To test for done-ness, make sure that the meat is cooked through and falls apart easily when pulled with two forks. Remove the meat from the liquid and shred it in a large bowl, then add salt, mixing it in and tasting. The cooked pork can keep in the fridge for a few days. See the recipe below for assembly.
Buttermilk Biscuits: (adapted from Irma Rombaur's Joy of Cooking)
One batch makes enough for 12 pulled pork biscuits, which is 1/4 of the 4 lb pulled pork recipe above. Adapt this recipe according to how much pork you have.
2 generous cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
5 or 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
If you are making just biscuits, preheat the oven to 450˚. If you are making pulled pork biscuits, preheat the oven to 400˚.
Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, soda, salt). Drop in the butter pieces and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or by using two knives. For biscuits with crunchy edges and flaky interior, the largest pieces of butter should be the size of peas and the rest the size of breadcrumbs. For classic fluffy biscuits, the entire mixture should resemble coarse bread crumbs. Do not allow the butter to melt.
Pour the buttermilk into the bowl all at once, then stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon. Flour your hands and gently bring the dough together into a ball. If it is too dry to hold together, add a few drops of water. If it is too sticky, add a few sprinkles of flour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat and stretch it gently until it is slightly more than 1/2 inch thick. Then, with a knife, cut the dough into squares of whatever size you wish. To make regular biscuits (not pulled pork biscuits), place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, at least 1 inch apart from each other. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Read on for pork biscuits.
Pulled Pork Biscuits: (adapted from Hollis Wilder's Savory Bites)
BBQ pulled pork (4lbs before cooking will give you enough for four cupcake pans - 48 biscuits)
biscuit dough (1 batch of the above recipe is enough for one cupcake pan)
1 Tablespoon canola oil (if your cupcake pan is not nonstick
Preheat the oven to 400˚.
Pat out the biscuit dough until it is slightly more than 1/2 inch thick (and large enough to cut into 24 pieces about the size of the bottom of a cupcake). With a knife, cut the dough into 24 pieces.
Pour about 1 Tablespoon canola oil (or other vegetable) into a little bowl. With a small brush, or clean paper towel if you don't have one, brush a tiny bit of oil onto each cupcake well. If your pan is non-stick, you probably don't need to do this.
Put one piece of dough at the bottom of each well, cover with enough pork to full the well 3/4 full, and then lay another piece of dough on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the biscuits are just starting to brown.
Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, and then run a knife around the edge of each biscuit and lift it out with a fork onto a cooling rack. Or you can wrap them in a kitchen towel and take them, still warm, to the potluck.
Serve with lots of BBQ sauce and pickles.