Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork makes a great filling for tacos and burritos. The slow cooker makes it a breeze to prepare. This recipe will yield a mildly spicy finished product. For a little extra kick, increase the amount of slice jalapeƱos and add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce to braising liquid at the start.

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork
(Mark Kelly, 2017)

Makes 10 – 12 Taco or Burrito Servings

8 lbs. pork shoulder cut into 2-inch cubes
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 large jalapeƱos, stemmed and seeded, sliced 1/8-inch thick crosswise
2 limes, juiced
1 large orange, juiced
2 bay leaves
1 bottle of beer, preferably Negro Modelo

Mix the seasoning in a large bowl. The night before putting the pork in the slow cooker toss the pork pieces with the seasoning rub in a large bowl until thoroughly coated. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Six hours before serving put the seasoned pork in the slow cooker vessel and add the lime juice, orange juice, bay leaves and beer. Cover and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender and just falling apart. Drain the pork, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the liquid. Put the pork back into the slow cooker and gently shred the meat. Pour the reserved cooking liquid back into the shredded pork. Keep on warm until serving.

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Pale Ale Beef and Lamb Burgers

Pale Ale Beef and Lamb Burgers are really moist and juicy and the seasoning gives them a kefta kabob-like flavor. This recipe makes six 1/4-pound burgers. Once the patties are formed extras can be frozen for future use if you aren’t planning to cook them all right away.

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Pale Ale Beef and Lamb Burgers
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Serves 6

1 lb. ground chuck
1/2 lb. ground lamb
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 tsp Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup craft brewed pale ale, at room temperature

Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Form six 1/4-pound patties. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the patties to firm up.

Heat grill for medium-high direct grilling. Season each of the patties with a pinch of salt. Grill for 3 minutes per side, turning once, for medium-rare. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.

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Beer-Glazed Carrots

Beer-Glazed Carrots is a variation on a recipe my wife has made for year using wine. This version is less healthy (3 tablespoons of butter) than her version but it is a pretty darned tasty side dish to serve with grilled chicken or pork chops.

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Beer-Glazed Carrots
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Chicago Tribune, May 2015)

1 lb. carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch sections
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
Sea salt
1 cup beer, preferably a German lager or Stella Artois
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh chives to garnish

In saucepan large enough to hold all of the carrots in a single layer, melt butter over medium heat. Add the carrots and season with salt. Cook the carrots for about 5 minutes, stirring to coat them with butter. Add the beer. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the carrots and continue to reduce the glaze for another 5 minutes. Add the carrots back to the glaze. Toss to coat and serve immediately with chive garnish.

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Shrimp Salad Pizza

After eating fast food on our trip down to Ample Bites South we always want something light and tasty using seafood the first night, if at all possible. A new favorite is a pizza that is a salad and has spicy sauteed shrimp in it. Ample Bites calls this new creation Shrimp Salad Pizza. Warning! This not a traditional hot pizza. It is actually more of a salad … hence the “light and tasty” lead in.

The shrimp are accented with a fresh salsa using mango, tomato, zucchini, red onion and lime juice. An Asian dressing and sliced avocados join lettuce atop a pre-baked pizza crust. The crust soaks up the spicy, salty and acidic dressing and the sweet shrimp give the dish the seaside protein we desire.

This salad is best consumed with a wine, a margarita, or a cold Yuengling lager — or two.

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Shrimp Salad Pizza
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Serves 2

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (size 41-50)
2 limes
1/4 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, greens only, chopped, divided
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, divided
1/2 head Romaine lettuce, cleaned and spun dry, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 fresh mango, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1 zucchini, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1 avocado, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 pound shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 prepared pizza dough, roughly 12-inches by 12-inches

To prepare the dressing: In a small mason jar, combine the garlic, jalapeno, about a quarter of the chopped green onion, rice vinegar, sesame oil, juice of 1 lime, and about a quarter of the cilantro. Cover and shake until combined. Set aside.

To prepare the salsa: Combine the mango, tomato, a quarter of the green onion and a quarter of the cilantro, zucchini and the juice of 1/2 a lime. Set aside.

Toss the shrimp in a few dashes of olive oil and the Cajun seasoning. Bring a medium skillet with oil up to temperature over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the shrimp and cook them, turning once, until they are cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Remove the shrimp to a plate and cover it with foil.

Preheat oven to 400F. Bake the pizza crust for 10 minutes until it is warm but still flexible.

To serve: Quarter the pizza crust. Place two pieces on each plate. Sprinkle the crusts with a generous portion of cheese. Top the crust with lettuce and the remaining cilantro and green onions. Divide the shrimp between the plates. Top the shrimp and salad with the salsa and sliced avocado. Drizzle with dressing, squeeze the remaining 1/2 lime over the serving plates, sprinkle with additional cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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