I love picnics. A picnic to me can mean a lot of different things…as long as there’s wine involved. Or beer, I’m not picky. My husband and I even do carpet picnics when the weather is yucky. Usually our picnics are a bit European in style- wine, cheese, bread, fruit, etc. But here in the South, the usual ‘picnic’ tends to involve fried chicken or barbecue, slaw, potato salad, cornbread, baked beans… That’s how we roll down here. Unless there’s a grill present and there are burgers and dogs on it, that’s kinda how we do tailgating, or other outdoor eating. I grew up on this type of food. I ate it on the tall grass by Lake Norman or on the boat that sat upon it, I ate it before Davidson football games, I ate it on the porch in Wrightsville Beach, in my back yard on the picnic table. I’ve had this food a million different times, done in a million different ways. And I’ll never grow tired of it.
I find there are a few different ways that people eat their Southern Picnic food…there are the Sandwich People who stuff everything on a roll or piece of cornbread, there are the Plate People (that’s me) who put it all on a plate and take bites from every pile in rotation, and then there are the Mushers. The Mushers mix it all up and eat it as one.
Well, Mushers- this one’s for you. This recipe is all of that yummy Southern BBQ picnic food baked into a delicious casserole, Shepherd’s Pie style. You’ve got your pork, beans and slaw on the bottom and your potato salad and cheesy cornbread on the top. It’s killer. You can make this with all your leftovers or start from scratch, it doesn’t matter either way. But I highly recommend making it after you’ve slow cooked some pork shoulder or Pickin’ Pork like we call it here. That’s what I did and it was the perfect use-up for the leftovers after we had our next-day-pork-sandwiches.
*BBQ Picnic Casserole
(serves about 6)
For the Filling-
-In a large skillet on medium heat, sweat out 1 medium yellow onion, diced, and 1/2 lb of green cabbage, thinly sliced (roughly 1/2 a small head) in some olive oil (OR equal amounts of your leftover slaw*). Season with salt, pepper and a couple pinches of sugar. When the veggies are tender, add 1-1 1/2 lbs of chopped leftover barbecue pork or slow-cooked pork shoulder (obviously BBQ chicken could be subbed). Toss to combine.
-Sprinkle in 2 TB of flour, stir.
-Add in 1 15 oz can of black-eyed peas or pinto beans, drained (OR equal amounts of your leftover baked beans).
-If your pork didn’t have a lot of sauce, and therefore the mixture is now a bit dry and/or bland, add in 1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce.
-Stir to combine and pour into a greased 2.5 qt baking dish
For the Crust-
-Place 1 1/2 lbs of chopped potatoes (I like to mix sweet potatoes in to bump up the vitamins) in a pot of cold water, salt the water liberally and bring to a boil. Boil until fork tender. Drain and return to hot pot.
-Mash with a potato masher and mix in 8 ounces sour cream and 1 cup of sharp or extra sharp cheddar, shredded (you will need another cup for sprinkling later). (OR use equal amounts of your leftover potato salad, mashed, depending on what you put in yours.) Stir til desired consistency and pour onto the filling layer and spread evenly.
-Top with crumbled cornbread or corn muffins (I had 3 leftover and it was the perfect amount.) If you don’t have any cornbread, it will still be fine without this step…I’m just going a bit nuts with the whole ‘leftover’ idea!)
-Sprinkle with the other cup of your cheddar cheese
-Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and bubbly.
(*My family makes a sweet, vinegar based slaw instead of the usual creamy. Click here for our German Coleslaw recipe.)