We spent the first weekend of summer vacation in Medicine Hat, in 38 degree heat. It was a perfect road trip – just long enough to feel like we were away from home, with new sights to see and places to eat. And it was the weekend of the 18th annual Medicine Hat Jazz Festival, which meant a plethora of shows, jam sessions, and a free concert with the Kirby Sewell Band and the Hi Strung Downers on the top level of the Downtown Bus Terminal Parkade, which was pretty awesome.
Also: hot. But people were right into it.
And when the sun went down, people perked up.
These guys in their suits though. What troopers! And can you see the cliffs in the background?
What a cool venue.
Although I don’t think of myself as a huge jazz fan, being there during jazz fest was a blast. It started as a grassroots festival and has turned into a world-class event; it runs for a week in June, and if you are a jazz fan, you’ll be impressed by the lineup of artists they have visiting each year. There was so much going on it would have been a challenge to get it all in.
There are plenty of great spots to eat in the Hat too – the Thai Orchid Room was our favourite, and we also loved Zucchini Blossom Café – a haven of soup, salads and baked goods – and Skinny’s Smokehouse, a barbecue joint where you can get piles of hickory smoked pulled pork, ribs, chicken and some of the best brisket I’ve had. Fortunately we stayed at a pretty rad hotel with a waterslide and air conditioning – I think the kids outnumbered the grown-ups there – W and his cousin were in little kid heaven.
In honour of Skinny’s, here’s a recipe for DIY pulled pork – not as authentic as piling pork shoulder into a smoker and letting it go overnight, but good in a pinch. It’s a great way to feed a crowd, and doing it in the slow cooker won’t heat up your house.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
This is unbelievably fast. While the pork is browning, hack apart the veg and throw them in the pot. They are only there for flavour for the pork and stock – you’re throwing them out anyway – so there is no need to be at all dainty about it. Then set the roast on top, pour over the beer and you’re done.
One 2 to 3 lb pork rib roast or shoulder
2 onions, quartered
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bottle dark beer
1 cup barbecue sauce (or to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste
buns or flour tortillas
Season pork roast on all sides with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet, brown roast on all sides. Place onions, carrots and celery into the slow cooker; top with browned roast.
De-glaze skillet with about 1/4 cup beer, scraping up any bits stuck to pan. Pour liquid and remaining beer over roast in slow cooker. Cover; cook on low for 8 hours.
Remove roast and set it aside. Strain the liquid into a container, discarding vegetables. Place the roast back into the slow cooker, shred with 2 forks until it is completely pulled apart, discarding any chunks of fat you come across, and pour about 1 cup of the strained broth overtop; put the rest in the fridge to make soup with. Stir in the barbecue sauce. Set the Crock Pot on warm to keep it that way.
Serve buffet-style with buns or tortillas and if you like, shredded cheese, chopped tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions or creamy slaw.