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Alchemy of pulled pork

Dublin couple takes first prize in contest at Alyson’s Orchard

Natasha Meehan and her boyfriend, William Pickford, have a running joke about pulled pork barbecue.

“We banter back and forth a lot,” Meehan said. “We each think our own version is the best.”

But when the Dublin couple heard about first annual amateur pulled pork contest at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, they decided to team up. And their entry took first place in the Aug. 4 contest, topping 10 other contestants at the event.

Meehan, who is a former owner of Aesop’s Tables cafe in Peterborough, is a caterer, who works from her home.

“We’re certainly amateurs when it comes to barbecue,” she said. “I can cook, but this had to be authentic. The meat had to be smoked, either on a charcoal or propane grill or in a smoker using wood chips. And you had to use Alyson’s peaches in the sauce.”

Pickford took on the challenge of smoking the meat, while Meehan focused on the sauce.

“We did two test runs of the meat,” Meehan said. “He was out on the smoker for about 15 hours. We had to supply 10 pounds. It was quite a bit of meat.”

They tested about five different batches of sauce.

“I was the sauce alchemist,” Meehan said. “The peaches were hard to work with, because they were really sweet. We experimented a lot.”

The contest was a benefit for the Fall Mountain Food Shelf, a food pantry serving the Walpole area. Judging was a people’s-choice affair, with anyone bringing in canned goods to donate to the food shelf eligible to taste the entries and vote. Meehan said the event brought in more than $500 and four shopping carts full of canned food.

Meehan and Pickford made out well, too. First prize was a weekend at Alyson’s lodge, with a catered dinner party featuring food from Pit Stop smokehouse in Westmoreland. They haven’t redeemed that yet, but they’re looking forward to trying someone else’s barbecue.

And their success may have helped with business.

“We had two different couples ask if we would cater their weddings,” Meehan said.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

Here’s a family-sized version of

Natasha Meehan’s peach barbecue sauce

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium Vidalia onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small fresh Jalapeño (optional)

1 pound peaches (about 4 large peaches), pitted and halved

2 medium tomatoes, diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon molasses

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Melt butter in saucepan. Sauté onion, garlic and Jalapeño for 5 minutes.

Add peaches, tomatoes, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Take off heat and let cool.

Puree mixture in food processor or blender until smooth. Return to pot.

Add all remaining ingredients; simmer for at least 15 minutes. The longer the sauce simmers, the more developed the flavors will become.

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