Photo: Erik R. Trinidad
Ah, another Thanksgiving is here, and this year we have plenty to be thankful for -- most notably the return of the McRib! Yes, America's favorite processed pork rib sandwich is back! No need to wander the different corners of the country looking for it, like in that Simpsons episode where Homer and a band of "Ribheads" go on tour following their favorite pork sandwich's limited regional availability; the McRib is now available nationwide after a hiatus of a long 16 years! Let's celebrate the mechanically-separated Thanksgiving harvest!
Last Thanksgiving, we at the Fancy Fast Food kitchen teamed up with Wired to reshape a corn dog and sides into a traditional "Franksgiving Dinner." This year, we're going to celebrate our beloved national holiday in these United States by being inspired by the last, but certainly not least, state to enter the union, Hawaii.
Ingredients (from McDonald's):
- 1 McRib sandwich (with extra onions)
- 1 Filet-O-Fish sandwich
- 2 side salads
- 1 large fries
- 1 McCafé Wild Berry Smoothie
- 1 bottle of water
- Packets of salt
- PLUS: a natural banana leaf (for presentation and a touch of irony)
The centerpiece of any Hawaiian luau -- other than the girls dancing in hula skirts -- is the Kalua pig, traditionally prepared in an underground oven until the pork is slow-roasted to juicy, tender perfection. While that is ideal, we just have the McRib as our pork source so we'll have to improvise. First, remove all the onions from the sandwich, and set them aside for later. Then take the processed pork patty and run it under a faucet to rinse off all the barbecue sauce. What you'll have left is an oddly shaped pork product with fake rib shape. Now use your imagination to pretend that there were once bones there. (It's supposed to simulate ribs after all.)
No matter; bones always get in the way. You should be thanking McDonald's for getting rid of the most annoying part about eating ribs: the actual ribs. In fact, take it a step further and use a knife to vanquish the ribbed texture by slicing off the top layer of the pork patty. Then flip the patty over and slice off the upper layer until you have a completely exposed slab of the other "other white meat."
Cutting lengthwise, thinly slice the sides of the pork patty so you have strands of what should start resembling shredded pork. We need to do this because the McRib isn't pork in its natural form (surprise, surprise), so the meat isn't going to shred naturally along lines of muscle fibers. Slice the patty until you have long thin strips of "rib meat," and then slice those into thinner and thinner strips so that the collective pile looks like a nice serving of shredded roasted pork.
Kalua pig will be the main dish, but another traditional Hawaiian recipe is lomi-lomi salmon, which we'll make in a more realistic way, substituting the pollock in the Filet-O-Fish for salmon. ("Lomi" means "massage" in Hawaiian, indicating how the fish is blended with other ingredients, using your hands.) First, scrape off the tartar sauce and slice off all the breading of the Filet-O-Fish square, then crumble the resulting fish filet into a mixing bowl. Add a packet of salt, since a real lomi-lomi recipe calls for salted salmon. Then, take the four cherry tomatoes from the two side salads and dice them into small pieces. Take all the onions from the McRib sandwich, rinse them in a strainer, and chop them along with some greens from the salad -- another improvisation for the original recipe's call for green onions. Put the tomatoes, greens and onions into the bowl of salted pollock and mix everything together in the traditional way: with your hands.
So we have Kalua pork and lomi-lomi-o-fish, but what's a luau without poi, that pasty, starchy purple dip made from taro? Of course we don't have taro, but plenty of starch in our box of french fries. Put those fries in a food processor, add some water, and give it a purple hue by way of two to three big spoonfuls of the Wild Berry Smoothie. Blend it down until it's the consistency of yogurt, and ta-da... McPoi!
Lastly, the plating: Serve the "shredded" Kalua pork on a banana leaf, the lomi-lomi-o-fish on a fancy bamboo plate, and the McPoi in a small wooden bowl. Pour the rest of the Wild Berry Smoothie into a tropical cocktail glass and decorate with cocktail umbrellas, leis, and a dashboard hula girl if you have one. The Fancy Fast Food Hawaiian Thanksgiving is served! Aloha!
For additional photos of the individual dishes in this "meal," including photos of its preparation, visit FancyFastFood.com.
Erik R. Trinidad -- who is not a trained chef but enjoys recreational cooking -- is the creator of Fancy Fast Food, where fast food goes through an extreme makeover without the use of any additional ingredients (other than an occasional garnish). This is his thirteenth post for Slashfood. Look for his upcoming book, The Fancy Fast Food Cookbook: Mock Recipes with No Bun Intended (Sterling & Ross Publishers) in 2011. In the meantime, check out his travel blog at TheGlobalTrip.com, plus more mock recipes and videos at FancyFastFood.com.