Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kickin' It Old School...

Or at least getting back to basics for tonight's meal.
Seems like the menu has seen a lot of pork this week, not that that's a bad thing...

It's seen Pork in Red Sauce, Parmesan Herbed Pork Chops and bacon and sausage (yep, breakfast for dinner one night), so tonight, when I opened the fridgedator and saw a couple of pork tenderloins.

What to do... what to do...

I didn't really feel like getting all wound up on something, so I decided to fall back on one of my oldest favorites, the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich.

Sliced it up, pounded the slices flat, egged and dredged and fried em up. Garnished with a little lettuce, tomato and mayo on bread and added some fries.

Sometimes the simple things are the best.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hey baby, it's still cold outside...

and to top it off, we got hit with a winter storm that dropped about a half an inch of ice, and now it's snowing. For all you Northerners, don't start... I know, I know... that's a flurry where you come from... but down here, it's enough to make all the idjits on the road act like it's Armageddon.

So... schools were closed today, and we closed the office to work at home. Which wound me up in the kitchen early this morning. My neighborhood Mexican food joint has two dishes that I regularly order up... Enchiladas Chile Verde, and Puerco con Salsa Roja, which if you don't do espanol, is Pork in a red sauce. Much like the Chile Verde, this dish had me intimidated for quite a while. Until, that is, the Verde fell prey to my dogged determination and my measurable quantity of luck at making something edible no matter how lost I am when I start cooking.

So I deconstructed the basics...
  • Pork
  • Red Sauce
    Chili Powder
So, I started out with a pretty stable base of ingredients, including Chilebrown's enchilada sauce.

Here's how it went:

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, cubed about 1", excess fat removed.
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-10 cloves chopped garlic (to taste)
  • 2-4 tablespoons ground Ancho chile powder
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons oregano
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • fresh cilantro (unfortunately, I didn't have any)
  • Sour Cream to garnish
Get a big ol stockpot, or really big dutch oven, whatever as long as it can hold 4 pounds of pork and 2 quarts of stock. Sweat the onion and garlic in a tad bit of oil. Add the chili powders, cumin, salt and oregano and cook together for a few minutes, until onions are soft.

Add the stock, enchilada sauce and pork to the vessel. Bring to a boil, drop to a medium roll, and cook it till you can't wait no more. In my case, it was about three hours.

The pork will probably stay together unless you do like I did and beat it around the pot with a big spoon to break the pieces up.

Serve it up, top with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro, and go to town.

Odd thing is, in spite of cooking this, understanding what ingredients I was using, it didn't dawn on me until I got my first taste... that this was basically chili with diced pork instead of ground beef. And a little more thin than a standard chili.
But good? heck ya it was. Looks like my local Mexican place might be in trouble.....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hey baby, it's cold outside...

... darn cold... last time I checked it was about 20 degrees, with the wind a blowin'. So, what's a guy to do when the wind's howlin', the temps are droppin', and his belly's a growlin'?

Make some comfort food.... shuh....

Today's venue was something I stumbled onto whilst perusing this internet thing for something totally different.
Funny how life's like that, huh?
Anyway, while looking for some recipes for Pork Salsa Roja (yep, found one, and yep, it's gonna get cooked), I stumbled on a nice little blog ran by a fellow culinariast (is that a word?) who seems to know her way around the kitchen.

While looking at one recipe, I noticed a link for Shrimp Chowder. Now, I love chowder almost anyway you fix it... and I loves shrimps too... so I figured this was worth checking out.

The recipe she posted was pretty good for a starter, but I definitely took several liberties.

Here's how hers started out:
  • 3 lbs head on shrimp
  • 1/4 oz slab bacon, cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 3 medium russet potatos (approx 1 pound) quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • crosswise into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 large leek, white part only, cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp snipped chives for garnish

Add shrimp shells to water to make a stock. You can also add celery carrot and onion to stock for extra flavor.
Make the base by sauteeing the bacon with potato and leek. Add shrimp stock. Simmer until potatos are just soft. Remove from heat and set aside
Melt butter in pan, add shrimp and cream, and boil until shrimp are barely cooked and cream is slightly reduced.
Stir into base, along with seasonings.

I made a little less than a half portion, and here's where I deviated:

  • 1 pound shrimp
  • I used about 3 slices (3 oz) of my homemade bacon. Only 1/4 oz is just offensive to the bacon gods.
  • 1 large russet
  • 1-2 tsp dill weed instead of chives
  • 1/4 cup finely diced carrot
Prepared as called for, making shrimp stock, etc.

Once the base and the butter/cream/shrimp were added together, it just didn't look like a chowder to me. Very runny... very soupy. So I made a quick butter/flour roux (1/2 stick and 1/2 cup), and added it to the mix, along with a cup and half of chicken stock.

Hit the heat for a couple of minutes, and it thickend right up, just like momma always said it would.

The end result? A mighty fine chowder of chowdery consistency. The potatos were done perfectly, with the leeks and carrots imparting a slight sweetness. I sliced the shrimp up into thumbnail sized pieces for better distribution, so nearly every bite served up a nice little bite of shrimp. Obviously creamy, what with all the butter and cream. And the dill provided just a touch of a savory, herby layer.

If the rest of GG Mora's blog yields up recipes this good, I'm gonna be a happy (if not fatter) camper.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This Verde's for Chile....

Chilebrown that is...

After reading his thoughtful and insightful blog, I came to the realization that he and I both share an intense and uncompromising love of the green stuff... Chile Verde.

I've had various permutations of CV over the years, some good, others not. There's a local place close to where we live that does a pretty good take on it, and you can even get it wrapped up in enchiladas. Menu shows chicken and beef verde enchiladas only, but if you're smart enough to ask for Senor Puerco, they'll gladly accommodate.

Inspired by Senor Chile's tireless efforts during the last month to find the nirvana of verde-ness, I decided to try it at home. The fact that I also made a New Year's resolution that I would learn how to cook one new food that I love every month was also a motivator.

So... I did a little looking around on the web... Googled numerous recipes, forums and searched my two go-to resources: Food Network and Epicurious.

I found a bunch of recipes. Everything from Pork and canned chiles to epic numbers with more ingredients than your average produce department and requiring a PhD to digest. Eventually I settled on one that seemed to have the basics covered, and wasn't a week long task to make.

So, last night, I started off with a nice four pound pork shoulder.

Next I deboned it, and cubed it into roughly inch-sized chunks. Sprinked with salt, pepper and cumin, tossed it all up and bagged it for the night to let the spices do their thing.

This afternoon, I started in...'s the mise... Diced pork... Chopped onion... chopped bell, poblano and jalapenos, cilantro... roasted tomatillos, garlic and chicken stock.

Lightly floured and browned the pork in batches. Removed to one side, and sweated the aromatics for a few minutes.

Put the stock in a heavy pot along with the meat, cilantro and toms. Once the onions and peppers had cooked enough, those went in as well. Brought it all to a boil then dropped to a low simmer. Then came the hard part... the wait.

The recipe called for a three hour cook time. Mine wound up being about 5 (had to run an errand), but I honestly can't say that it hurt anything.

Made up a nice pan of basmati rice to go along, and dished it right up.

Not to toot my own horn (but don't we all?), but this was seriously good. I was impressed with the recipe. The chiles were present, but not hot. (I purposely dialed the heat down for this first go round). The pork was fall-apart tender, and everything tasted exactly like I expected it would. The subtle flavor of the roasted tomatillos was there as well. Makes me wonder how much the flavor would change if I roasted the peppers as well....

The only thing I'll change next time is to not use so much chicken stock. The recipe called for 4 cups, and I used about 5 and a half. When I got everything in the pot, it just didn't look like enough liquid. Turns out 4 cups would have been plenty. But the rice soaked up the extra liquid when I served it up, so everthing turned out fine after all.

So... Culinary Compadres and Compadrettes... this one goes in the win column with a nod to Senor Chilebrown for the inspiration.

And.... here's the recipe