One of the most asked questions we get is, “When are you going to open a restaurant?” The answer is never because once cooking starts being work it stops being fun. Growing up, my grandfather owned a restaurant and it was super fun to hang out and play with the arcade games and eat chicken wings whenever we wanted to. In college, I worked in a restaurant kitchen and also hosted, served and managed the front of the house. That killed my desire to ever do it again. During the infamous Restaurant Wars, it looked like some of the Top Chef All-Stars had never worked in an actual restaurant before (ahem … Marcel). It was quite obvious from the get-go that pop-up restaurant Bodega was going to win and we were elated when Bravo posted Tre’s recipe for pork shoulder with cheddar grits and Corona lime sauce because we positively drooled over that dish.
The recipe calls for pressure cooking the pork shoulder for 45 minutes then pressing the meat (like under a brick?!? There was no explanation of this technique) for one to two hours. We have neither a pressure cooker nor the time to press meat for several hours so I just sautéed the onions, jalapeno, garlic, poblano pepper, carrots and a bay leaf then threw in a can of green chilis, some beef stock and cilantro. I browned the meat in a hot pan for a few minutes, stuck it into the crock pot, poured the simmering liquid in and left it on low to do its work. We are loving the crock pot this winter!
When we got home, K started on the grits. He chopped up red and poblano peppers, scallions, tomatoes and cilantro then started simmering chicken stock and milk. He whisked in the grits and kept a very close eye on them so we didn’t end up with an overcooked mess.
I chopped up jalapeno, carrots, jicama, red pepper and cilantro then tossed the fresh veggies and herbs together with some lime juice, oil and honey to make a tasty slaw. Then I started on the Corona Lime Sauce. The sauce calls for Ultratex 8 (which, I’m assuming, is some sort of thickener/gelling agent) and, of course, we didn’t have that. So I just blanched and shocked the cilantro then pureed it in the blender with a little half and half, Corona, sugar and salt. The mixture didn’t thicken or even really turn green, but it contained all the required ingredients so we went for it.
K sautéed the peppers for the grits and, once they turned thick and creamy, he tossed in the peppers and cheese. The pork shoulder was ready to go so K built up the plates and we got ready to dig in.
The grits were, indeed, thick and creamy and cheesy and sweet from the slightly crunchy peppers and a little smoky from the chipotle powder. The pork practically melted when touched with a fork and the spices were perfect. The slaw was fresh and crisp and added tang and greenery to the rich pork and grits. The cilantro Corona sauce was weird. It tasted like beer yogurt. Not necessarily in a good or bad way, just a weird way.
If you’re on the hunt for crockable comfort food that can help ward off winter’s chill (and it’s been a very, very long winter…) go for the pork shoulder with cheddar grits and slaw. If you want to impress your friend with a new, weird flavor of sort-of yogurt you created, go with the Corona Lime sauce (which contains no lime despite its name). Although, if you have a lot of Ultratex 8 sitting around in your kitchen, you may be able to better recreate the original sauce.