When I did my Thanksgiving dinner shopping at our local Belhaven McDade’s Market, I noticed that the tri-fecta cuts of porky goodness were on sale. Neck bones, trotters (pig feet for the uninformed) and pig tails were all neatly on display with the big, red “Pick-5/$20” sticker. I couldn’t resist. Usually I grab one of the three for my mustard greens, braised in root beer with pigtails being my favorite. But hey…Thanksgiving is a time for plenty.
In a stockpot, I browned off the meat and set all but the pigtails aside for later. The root beer sizzled and did its magic deglazing the pan and the peppery mustards braised away for a few hours. When the greens were tender and well infused with the fat from the pork and the sweet spices of the root beer, I transferred them to a colander over a roasting pan, reserving both the greens and the liquor. To save precious oven and stove space, I cooked the greens the day before, which also helped them soak up the goodness while they rested overnight in the fridge.
I added the pig tails from the drained greens into the roasting pan along with the trotters and neck bones I had saved from earlier. The liquid from the greens was almost enough to completely cover the bones so I only had to add a little water to submerge them all. I heated the oven to a low-and-slow 250° and wrapped the roasting pan tight with both cling film and foil. Then, in the oven they went for an overnight braise.
The next morning when I got up to get the turkey started, I took the pan from the oven and let it rest in the fridge. When the meat was cooled, I carefully picked the meat and gooey fat away from the bones and put it in a quart-sized deli cup to await their appearance on the Friday breakfast menu. Not wanting to waste the liquor from the braise, I just transferred it to a pot and introduced the greens back into the liquid to re-heat for later.
As per tradition, our Thanksgiving celebration strayed into the late-night and early-morning hours with plenty of toasting and tippling. The next morning, our rested pork was ready for its close-up.
In my heavy black-iron skillet, I heated some bacon grease and sweated some onions and garlic. To that I added some small-diced potatoes, oregano and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Once the potaotes were fork tender the pork made its way into the pan with a splash of water and a pinch of red pepper flakes. When it was all bubbly and aromatic, I toasted some bread and put on a pot of cowboy coffee. The coffee-pork combo got the house stirring and I served all the dreary-eyed, semi-rested revelers some pork hash on toast, topped with a fried egg and a found-object, faux choron sauce made by mounting some butter in a pan of reduced Bloody Mary mix and a little mayo. I didn’t get any photos of the plated dish because it was all sopped up before I could stop and get my camera ready. But I’m sure you can use your imagination.
I don’t expect anyone to go through the exact, multi-step process to make this dish, but I’m including a “Leftover Hash” recipe you can use with pretty much any leftover meat you have on hand, just chop it small and adjust the final product with added bacon drippings or stock if it’s a bit lean to start with.
1 Tbsp. bacon grease
1 large, yellow onion (diced)
3 cloves fresh garlic, (minced)
1 tsp. oregano
3 skin-on, russet potatoes (diced)
4 cups leftover, cooked meat (rough chopped)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
(additional bacon grease or stock, if needed)
Heat bacon grease in a large, black-iron skillet over medium heat and add onions. Cook until tender and slightly translucent.
Add garlic. oregano and potatoes and cook until potatoes are lightly browned and fork tender.
Add meat and a ¼ cup of water and cook until the meat is heated thoroughly.
Add pepper flakes and balsamic and continue cooking for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add additional fat or stock if needed.
Serve over toast with a fried egg.