What’s in My Kitchen: Shredded Pork Balls

Photo credit: Ariole Jones

It’s been three weeks of quarantine and my face is getting rounder, nights are getting longer and my fridge is emptying at an extremely fast rate. Luckily, people have finally stopped panic buying food, but I haven’t been able to work in two weeks, so it really doesn’t change my opportunities.

While the food pantry at school is still open and gave out groceries this past week, it wasn’t as much as I usually get, but I was thankful either way. This was the first time I received meat other than deli meat from them, and I was honestly very confused. I couldn’t think of anything to cook with shredded pork.

One day while watching YouTube, I saw a video where this lady made fried rice balls. I found this intriguing because it looked like tater tots and it gave me an idea of what I could do with the pork.

The first step to cooking anything is washing your hands. While this seems rhetorical and almost unnecessary to mention, it’s important nonetheless, especially with the spread of the virus. I personally recommend washing your hands in between each step, but that’s to be extra careful.

Once I was ready to start cooking, I began by reading the pork package to make sure I knew what I was getting into. However, I think I ended up confusing myself even more. The title said “Fully Cooked Shredded Pork,” but the instructions said to cook it. I hope I don’t need to explain the issue here, but I began preparing it anyways just to be on the safe side.

After mixing my seasoning I added some hot sauce, soy sauce and a sprinkle of brown sugar. I find that sugar actually works with a lot of meals especially when balancing out bitter, sour or even spicy flavors. I encourage using it sparingly though because the last thing you want is chicken that tastes like cake.

I preheated my oven to whatever automatic default preset it had, which was 350, and cooked the pork in a small glass pan for 30 minutes.

As my meat was tenderizing, I boiled a small amount of rice in a small pot. In the meantime, I turned on the movie “Ratatouille” to set the mood. It made the moment a little more special.

Once the meat was done, I took it out, shot a few pictures and began chopping my vegetables. I cut some celery, garlic and bell pepper. I then mixed all the ingredients, spooned in the meat and saved what was leftover, which I will probably use for another time.

When it was all mixed, I heated two inches of vegetable oil in a pot and prepared my pork balls. I rolled them all in flour, then an egg mixture and lastly a flour and cornmeal mixture. It took about five minutes to fry on each side, which was good because it gave me time to roll more balls.

If you’ve ever had boudin balls, specifically from Louisiana, this tasted almost exactly like that. It had the crispy outside and jambalaya-like filling in the middle, and it turned out to be so flavorful. I was actually surprised it came out that good since I didn’t know what I was doing.

This was an interesting way to use food from the pantry, because most of the time I just leave things in my cabinet until I figure out a new dish to make. I encourage everyone to please utilize the Food Pantry at Sam Houston State University if you need to, especially now. They have recently updated their hours and are currently open every week, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A valid Bearkat OneCard is required to receive food.

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