Small Bites Pot Luck Recipe: Pulled Pork with Creamy Polenta


The Small Bites bloggers gathered for a pot luck, and we thought everyone should benefit! Here are the recipes from Behind the Kitchen Door blogger Patrice Costa. Says Patrice: “What better way to finally get to know my fellow bloggers than sharing a collaborative meal (a/k/a our version of a pot luck dinner). Feeling the tiniest bit of culinary pressure (cooking for food bloggers really raises the bar), I chose to make a fail proof BBQ Pulled Pork recipe from my chef friend, Mark Donelli of Marco Restaurant in Mahopac, and served it atop a creamy polenta. The secret to the moist and flavorful pork is encasing the meat in an oven bag and letting it cook in the oven for eight to ten hours at a low temperature.”













The recipes after the jump.



The most difficult part of this recipe is wrestling the pork into the oven bag and then having lots of patience while all the magic happens in 8 to 10 hours to turn it into moist, succulent pulled pork.  Marc Donelli, chef/owner of Marco’s, A Restaurant in Mahopac, shared this recipe with me, and it has quickly become a family favorite.  My first reaction is probably what you are thinking – AN OVEN BAG?  Well, all I can say is that it works and it’s easy and it comes out amazing! Yes, it makes a ton of meat, but the good news is that it freezes well.  Just portion out and package up the cool pork and pop in the freezer.  A quick defrost, some BBQ sauce, and it’s ready for a delicious weeknight dinner.


1  5 to 10 lb. Pork shoulder or butt (bone in)
1  Oven bag (Use the turkey size 19 in x 23 in which is bigger than the large size)
1  cup Water
4 oz. Colgin liquid smoke (hickory or mesquite, whatever available)
Salt & Pepper
Hot sauce (to taste)
BBQ sauce (I use a mix of Sweet Baby Ray’s and KC Masterpiece)

1.   Pre-heat oven to 275°. Place pork shoulder or butt in oven bag and gently put it in a large roasting pan.  Pour water into the bag first and make sure there are no holes in the bag (I say this because it’s happened to me and it was quite a mess to then try to re-bag the meat).  Then add the liquid smoke, and salt/pepper, making sure to keep top of bag upright. Tie off top of bag, removing as much air as possible. Pierce a few small holes at the top of the bag so air can escape while cooking. Add water about half way up pan and keep replenishing as needed during the cooking process.

2.   Place pan in oven and cook for 8 to10 hours (or overnight). Remove when bone is loose and meat is tender.  Let cool enough so you can handle the meat. Carefully pour out water in pan.  Leave bag in pan while you open the top keeping it upright so the hot liquid doesn’t come out.  Remove the meat from bag and place on cutting board.  Pull off chunks of pork and shred.  Add BBQ sauce and hot sauce to taste. Mix well, heat, and serve.

This recipe that I’ve adapted from Bon Appetit is so versatile.  Add some grated cheese into the mixture, and it’s the perfect partner to some braised short ribs or beef stew.  The addition of milk in this version of polenta totally elevates the flavor and adds a lovely creaminess.

5 cups  vegetable or chicken broth
4 cups milk
1/2  Tbs salt
2 cups cornmeal (I’ve used everything from Quaker cornmeal to imported Italian coarse polenta.  For me, the coarser the better and for this recipe I’ve used Red Mill Corn Grits.)
Last minute addition to complement our Capt. Lawrence Pumpkin Ale:  about ½ to 1 cup of pureed pumpkin, cinnamon & nutmeg

1.   Bring broth, milk, and salt to boil in heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Continue whisking until mixture boils and thickens, about 2 minutes. Be careful of the hot mixture spattering and burning you as it gurgles and plops when it is cooking.  Reduce heat to low.

2.  Cook until the mixture is thick and thoroughly cooked through, whisking occasionally, about 30 minutes.  (I mixed in the pumpkin puree and spices just before it was done.)

The polenta can be made ahead.  As it cools, it will become thick.  To reheat, just add a little broth and stir until creamy.

Servings: 6


About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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