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Blog Housekeeping

Fourth of July Food Blogging

Tomorrow is, of course, a big US holiday, and I’m taking today off as well. As I often do around here, I’m spending some of the holiday cooking. The weather has been exceptionally hot around here, so tomorrow morning before it gets too steamy, I’m making this combination of side dishes (pickled grilled onions and charred-tomato salsa). To give you the idea, there are some of the tomatoes from a recent batch, placed directly on the lower bars of the gas grill to give them some extra oomph.

These will be served with a pork roast, which will be out there turning on the grill without me having to stand out there and roast with it. The plan today is to get a pork shoulder or “picnic” roast (as they’re often labeled in the US), and marinate it overnight in a mixture of orange juice and lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and thin-sliced onions. That will go on the rotisserie tomorrow for a few hours at low heat, while I go indoors to avoid the high heat. I’ll update this post tomorrow with a shot of the finished product!

Update: as promised/threatened, there’s the roast at right, after about three hours on low heat. I’m wrapping it in foil and letting it sit in the (turned-off) grill for 20 or 30 minutes to make it more tender.



28 comments on “Fourth of July Food Blogging”

  1. oldnuke says:

    Good for you. This past week’s weather in Delaware reminds me of Mississippi summers (but I was fifty years younger then!).

  2. ReadingAboutFoodBeforeLunchMakesMeHungry says:

    That sounds delicious! Have a lovely holiday!

  3. An Old Chemist says:

    Smoked food and burnt food (meat, in particular) have been linked to stomach cancer. So, I have often wondered as to why barbecue-ing is still around. Derek, I see that your tomatoes on the grill are partly burnt, and I am wondering if the lycopene in them is still intact. Enjoy the July 4 long weekend! I love reading your blog to keep updated with the latest happenings in the pharmaceutical industry, and to often add to my knowledge about med chem, synthetic chemistry, etc…

    1. john adams says:

      Wow, what a Donny/Debbie downer !!!

      1. Sam Adams says:

        ‘I know more old drunks than old physicians.’ Willing to extrapolate on that.

        Re-read the Declaration sometime as balm for modern times.

    2. John Wayne says:

      Tons of doctors and nurses smoke; knowledge of a thing doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t do it anyway. Grilled meat is delicious.

    3. Derek Lowe says:

      I’ve seen the statistics, honestly, and I’m not that worried, particularly since I don’t survive on just grilled/smoked meats (although I could probably go a fairly extended period like that, in the interest of research). Your lycopene comment actually makes me think that you may be just a bit too worried about nutrient content in foods. A couple of millimeters in, and the lycopenes should be fine (!)

    4. Mark Thorson says:

      My method is to cut them in half and roast them under a broiler, cut side up. I roast much blacker than Derek does.

    5. oldnuke says:

      Everytime I read these kind of alarmist warnings about food, I am reminded of this classic scene from the movie Sleeper:


      Considering that in my younger days I was at Three Mile Island doing atmospheric sampling, went back later to help during containment cleanup, and worked at several underground nuclear tests in Nevada, I’ll take my chances tomorrow with a grilled hamburger or two (medium rare please πŸ™‚


    6. Anonymous says:

      Did someone ask about lycopenes and cooked tomatoes? Science to the rescue:

      Cornell shows that heating increases the availability of lycopenes and other good stuff (2002) compared to raw tomatoes:

      Newer research shows that cooking increases the amount of beneficial cis-lycopenes:

      Those cooked tomatoes may kill you … by making you live longer. πŸ™‚

    7. Nick K says:

      Worrying about carcinogens in grilled meat is far worse for one’s health than actually ingesting them.

  4. jbosch says:

    Try adding some fresh pineapple to your roast while marinating, the Bromelain will make your pork super tender. Enjoy the heat.

    1. David Edwards says:

      I’ve been using pineapple juice as a “secret ingredient” for tenderising steak in casseroles for some time … then toss in some Merlot after the pineapple juice has worked its magic … cook the whole lot over 4 hours, and the end result is a weapons grade foodgasm 😁

  5. CR says:

    Pork shoulder and the “Picnic” are not the same. Always go with the Picnic.

    1. Derek Lowe says:

      That seems to vary from place to place, and butcher to butcher, unfortunately. Some places it’s a different cut, while others use that pretty interchangeably. . .

      1. Jim Mowreader says:

        Derek, there’s an “official” (according to the Pork Council) definition of the three large retail cuts that come from the shoulder primal.

        Imagine in your mind’s eye a hog with his head bent down like he was rooting around for acorns or something. Now, draw a horizontal line at the level of the bottom of his ear. Everything above that line is called either pork shoulder, pork butt or Boston butt…yes, the “butt” of a hog is at the front. Everything between that line and his elbow is the picnic, and everything below his elbow is the foot. At the top of the butt is a strip of fat called either the “clear plate” or the “fatback” depending on where you live.

  6. Uncle Al says:

    By far the finest tomato is the heirloom Cherokee Purple. With care, branch support, sunshine, and made terra preta soil one can achieve a 6-foot high, 3-foot wide bush with 10-cm wide fruit intensely flavorful and nearly goo-free.

    Courtesy of a Cs-137 blood irradiator and 20,000 rads, my F1 fruit have about 10 sees each. We’ll see how this goes next year. The fruit does look a bit odd, so far.

  7. Mr. Zesty says:

    Derek, you might try zesting your citrus and adding that to the marinade. The juice doesn’t transfer nearly as much flavor as the zest does.

    1. Derek Lowe says:

      That’s a good suggestion – I’ll break out the Microplane zester and throw some in.

      1. Jon says:

        I’m going to throw in my opinion and say “No, don’t do that”. I loathe citrus peel in food. There’s a reason we peel our oranges and lemons and eat the contents, not the peel.

        And yes, “zest” is the peel, not the fruit. For those who can taste it, it’s horrible. You might ask around the subjects of this meal about their preferences.

        Still, have fun!


        1. Derek Freyberg says:

          “Zest”, in my opinion, does not include the white pith immediately below the peel, which is indeed bitter. Pure zest contains just the flavorful elements of the peel. Try a Microplane or generic equivalent.

          1. Chester says:

            Agreed, zest refers only to the surface layer that contains the oils. If you slice a peel in half you can actually see where the zest ends and the pith starts, as the zest contains visible globules of oil.

          2. Jon says:

            Yes. It is not the pith, it’s the peel. It’s the oils that bug me. Your Mileage May Vary. J.

        2. Mark Thorson says:

          Normally I don’t buy organic, but the exception is when I plan to use the zest on citrus. Sometimes fungicides are used on citrus to extend shelf life, and they assume you aren’t going to eat the peel.

          1. fajensen says:

            Actually, they probably secretly kinda hope that you do – The likes of Bayer A.G and Sanofi S.A. have merged and acquired both the poison applied to the lemons and the (palliative) treatment for whatever long term medical messes eating it causes, right on their shelves πŸ™‚

            All Bottom Line :).

          2. Derek Lowe says:

            Telling people on this blog that Bayer and Sanofi have merged will not go well. Bayer bought Aventis’ crop science division in 2001, but Sanofi didn’t merge with Aventis until 2004. Not to mention the rest of your comment/accusation.

  8. Mark Thorson says:

    I’ve been thinking about making pickled onions, but I hadn’t considered pickled grilled onions. I’ve been think about sliced white onions with a sliced beet for color and maybe some spice like cloves or coriander. Wondering if I should parboil the onions, use the vinegar at full strength or dilute with water or wine, and whether some other spices would make more sense. I’m planning on unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar at full strength, which I’ve used for pickled Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and squid.

  9. Magickchicken says:

    Derek, you really should write a cookbook now that “The Chemistry Book” is done!

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