Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spicy Barbecue Bucatini with Caramelized Red Onions, Pulled Pork, + Smoked Cheddar Cheese

I realize that the recipe I am posting today sounds a little bit off and a little bit crazy, but doesn't some things that are called crazy, some of the best stuff? A lot of you pasta fanatics/lovers of food will turn your nose up or scoff at me for mixing Southern BBQ or Italian, but y'all, it totally works. Better yet, it is easy-peasy and the perfect meal to use leftover pork or any kind of BBQ meat (smoked chicken, brisket, etc). I started off by using some Bucatini Pasta, it's like spaghetti, but like on steroids. It is a little bit thicker, but the glorious part, by far, is that it has a hole through the middle. This is beneficial for many, many reasons, but mainly it rocks because the pasta sauce goes into the center and with every bite, you get the perfect ratio of pasta to sauce. Um, yum. But it's not just like you are going to throw in a pound of pasta, a shit ton of pork, and a bottle of BBQ sauce, it's more complex than that. I started off by caramelizing sliced red onions, which gives the pasta a nice, unctuous bite to the entire dish. The flavor is then boosted with other aromatics like fresh garlic and green onions before it is mellowed out with some crushed San Marzano tomatoes + tomato paste. After that mixture cooks down, it is then when you stir in your favorite BBQ sauce and some seasonings, to finish it off. I wouldn't recommend using any vinegar based sauces (like a North Carolina style) because the flavor might be slightly astringent and sinus-burning, so go with a sauce that is on the sweeter side because with the addition of the tomatoes, it will be much yummier. Now my Mountain Man + I obviously like to bring the heat when it comes to any recipe we make, so I added in one of my favorite condiments, Candied Jalapenos. These are literally the best little morsels you will ever put in your mouth... I know I've said that time + time again, but it is oh-so-true. Not only is this an easy leftover meal, but you can really make it all in just ONE pot, which doesn't happen around this joint often. SO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT :) Once you've finished the Barbecue Bucatini, place it into a serving bowl, drizzle it with some extra BBQ sauce, top it with a blanket of smoked cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, and a few extra candied jalapeno rounds... and dinner is served!! I hope y'all enjoy it as much as our whole family did :)
For the Barbecue Bucatini:
1lb Bucatini Noodles (or spaghetti noodles if you can’t find those)
4T Unsalted Butter
2 Red Onions, Thinly Sliced
1lb Pulled Pork
6 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Diced
1 Bunch of Green Onions, Sliced
8oz Whole, Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes (crushed into smaller pieces by hand or diced)
3T Tomato Paste
¼C Candied Jalapenos, Finely Diced in a Food Processor (almost to a puree)
2-3C Homemade BBQ Sauce (or you can substitute in your favorite store-bought sauce)
½t Red Pepper Flakes
¼C Minced Fresh Cilantro, Divided (half will be put into the pasta, half will be used to garnished)
Smoked Cheddar Cheese, For Garnishing
Whole Candied Jalapenos, For Garnishing
BBQ Sauce, For Drizzling
Kosher Salt + Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste

1. For the Pasta: In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil, making sure to add a good bit of salt to the water and a touch of olive oil. Cook the noodles according the package until they reach al dente. Strain the pasta and let them sit while you make the remainder of the dish.
2. Beginning the Dish: In the same stockpot that used to cook the pasta, add the 4T of butter and melt over medium heat. Add in the sliced red onions and a heavy sprinkling of kosher salt, and caramelize them for about 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly, so that they do not burn. Once they have caramelized, add in the garlic and cook for just a minute or two, and then toss in the pulled pork and green onions. Sautee these ingredients for about 5 minutes before adding in the crushed San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, candied jalapenos, BBQ sauce, and red pepper flakes. Let these flavors meld by simmering them on low-medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.
3. Finishing the Dish: After everything has cooked down, it’s time to add in the cooked Bucatini noodles into the pork + onions mixture, and toss to combine everything together. Add in the fresh cilantro and any salt & pepper to taste if it is needed.
4. Serving the Dish: Place the finished pasta dish into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of a extra BBQ sauce, a mound of shredded smoked cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of cilantro. If you want to make it extra spicy, you can top it with extra candied jalapenos. Eat it while it’s still hot! 

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