Monday, September 13, 2010

Pork Green Chile Chili

Harvest time here in Colorado is punctuated by the smell of Green Chiles being roasted at the local farmer's markets. Everyone scrambles to fill their freezer in hopes of recounting the season when the weather turns cold. Whether you like it hot or not a bowl of steaming Pork Green Chile on a February night truly warms the soul. In my mind "Chile" or "Chili", depending on your orientation, falls into two categories. The first is the Pork Green Chile Stew of New Mexico...thick and deep green with plenty of spices and rich pork flavor. This chile is perhaps best enjoyed with a stack of warm, fresh-made corn tortillas. The second is what we find around this area, a lighter version not as heavy on the chile and often seen with the addition of tomato. This style is a lighter shade of green as it is made with Big Jims or Anaheims and thickened with a roux or corn masa. You might find this chile smothering a burrito or ladled over fried eggs.

This recipe combines the best characteristics of both types, thick and hearty with a balance of spice and acidity. I think anyone who has spent time in the ABQ will appreciate it....Buen Provecho!

2 lbs. Boneless Pork Loin Roast, 1/4" diced (preferably Organic)
1 Sweet Onion, diced
6 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp. Coriander
1 Tbsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1/8 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 cup All Purpose Flour
2 cups Green Chiles (Roasted, Peeled & Diced)
1 qt. Chicken Stock
2 cup Water
3 Corn Tortillas, torn
1 1/2 cup Fresh Tomatoes, chopped
1/8 cup Cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 Lime
Salt & Black Pepper

Like most soups and sauces we are going to "build" layers of flavor as we prepare this dish. To start we are going to brown the diced pork, developing rich caramel notes. Add 1/3 cup Olive Oil to a heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven that has been heated over medium-high heat . Season the diced pork well with salt and pepper. You are going to want to work in batches taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Add enough pork to the hot oil to cover the bottom of the pan with space between pieces of pork. Every couple of minutes turn the pork until all sides are browned then remove them to a platter or sheet pan. You don't want to use a bowl or the pieces will steam and lose their crispy texture. Add additional oil as needed until all the pork has been browned.

Here is where things come together quickly. Return the pan to the stove, reduce heat to medium and add 1/2 cup Olive Oil. Add Onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add Garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes. Mix Dry Spices together and add to the pan stirring constantly for another minute. Add Flour to pan and continue stirring until thickened, about 3 minutes. At this point add your chopped Green Chiles and continue stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any flour or spices.

After another couple of minutes add browned pork back to the pan and stir. Pour in Chicken Stock and Water, bring to a boil and adjust to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer until pork is tender (about 1 hour).

Remove the lid and add Corn Tortillas and Tomatoes. As you continue to simmer another 10 minutes the tortillas will begin to break down and thicken the Chile. Add more tortillas if you prefer it to be thicker.

When you like the thickness add the Fresh Cilantro and Lime Juice. Finish the dish by seasoning to taste with Salt and Black Pepper.

The first bowl is best enjoyed on it's own with fresh tortillas. If you don't have a local tortillaria pick up a bag of Masa Harina and make your own. Then see just how many ways you can enjoy your Chile in the coming days!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chinese (American) Comfort Food

Here's a good comfort food recipe for classic "Fried Rice", a good way to use up yesterday's rice as today's side or main dish. I am using Jasmine but any long-grain variety will work. I know some of you out there still use "parboiled" but I encourage you to experiment with different varieties (just avoid high-starch rice like arborio, sushi, sticky, Spanish short-grains, etc.) This dish truly works better with at least day old rice as it has started to dry a bit, using fresh cooked rice will result in a sticky dish. Here's what you will need:

2 cups Rice, pre-cooked
1 tsp. Ginger, minced
1 tsp. Garlic, minced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup Mushrooms, thinly sliced (I like Shitake or Mitake but any variety will do)
1/2 cup Peas, Frozen
1 Scallion, thinly sliced
1/8 cup Peanut Oil
1/8 cup Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tsp. Fish Sauce (Optional)
Fresh Hot Chiles (Optional)
2 Eggs, beaten

Combine Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce and Fish Sauce in a small bowl. In a wide saucepan (preferably non-stick) or well-seasoned wok heat 1/2 the Peanut Oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add beaten egg and quickly stir fry until done, remove from pan. Add the remaining Peanut Oil, Ginger, Garlic and Hot Chile (if using) and stir fry for 1 minute. Add Red Bell Pepper and Mushrooms and continue cooking for an additional two minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly to separate grains, for an another couple of minutes. Add scallion and peas and stir to combine. Pour in sauce and cooked egg and continue cooking until everything is hot. Season with additional soy sauce.

*Remember the idea of "stir-frying" is to cook everything very quickly in a very hot pan to achieve a level of doneness that cooks everything but maintains the integrity of the ingredients. The Chinese call this "Wok Hay".

Moroccan Carrot Salad

I am getting really burned out on winter and uninspired by the same old offerings at the local market (hence my lack of recent postings!). This is especially true when it comes to the produce section. Because of our short "high country" growing season we have to rely on produce that has been trucked cross country or from another country at least half the year. This usually means things are harvested before they are ripe and ready and a LARGE amount of petroleum is necessary to get them here.

One thing that is pretty consistent in terms of quality are some California grown carrots that are in the organic section of the grocery. They are in bunches with the green tops still attached. Unlike most grocery store variety carrots that have long since been removed from their chlorophyll-ed appendage and are cracked and drying (i.e. dying) these guys are sweet and delicious. To get the full nutritional benefit I like to serve them raw with a simple dressing. I washed and peeled them, cut them into about 1.5 inch sections and ran them through the julienne blades of the mandoline. Feel free to use a knife and make whatever cut you fancy.

The dressing is pretty simple:

1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp. Honey (or Agave Nectar)
Zest of one Lemon
1/8 cup Chopped Cilantro
1/8 cup. Chopped Mint
1 tsp. Coriander
1/8 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper
Salt (Either to taste in the dressing or use a finishing salt, like Maldon, on top)

You could easily make an Asian version by substituting the Olive Oil with Sesame Oil, the Lemon Juice with Rice Wine Vinegar and adding additional ingredients like: Thai Basil, Fish Sauce, Black Sesame Seeds, 5 Spice Powder, etc.

Bluegrass Kitchen Tools

If you haven't used a Mandoline before they can be a very efficient tool in the kitchen. Consistent and uniform cutting of fruits and veggies are the main reasons to keep one around. Thin slicing and julienne cuts can certainly be done with a good knife but not nearly as quickly and precisely as with this tool. That said none of the mandolines that I've used have ever been particularly easy to clean. In addition you need to be extremely careful with the sharp blades and if you are short on storage space it could end up being a bit of a pain. So, there's my disclaimer...The good news is that in the past good mandolines have been pretty expensive at around $200 dollars for a quality model. When Cooks Illustrated did a mandoline review a couple of months ago I was excited to see the $35 "OXO Good Grips V-Blade" at the top of their list. I purchased one shortly thereafter and have enjoyed using it for various recipes like the one that follows...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

French Bistro Salad

Here is a recipe based on classic French Bistro fare. It has three parts; a Greens Salad, Grilled Steak and a French Vinaigrette. Use whatever you like in the salad, here is what I used:

Mesclun, Spring Mix and/or Romaine Lettuce
Cooked and Sliced Beets
Sliced Hard Boiled Egg
Spiced Pecans (recipe later)
Maytag Blue Cheese

For the Steak component I used the grilled Flat Iron from the previous post. You could also use Flank Steak, Skirt Steak or if you can find it Hangar Steak (Onglet) which is a classic French beef cut. The dressing I came up with is essentially a French Vinaigrette with quite a bit of thin sliced shallot. If shallot is not available use thin sliced sweet onion.

French Shallot Vinaigrette
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. Thyme, dried
1/2 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Shallot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon
1 clove Garlic, minced

Combine everything but the Oil in a small bowl. Allow the mixture to rest for about 15 minutes, this will essentially start pickling the shallots taming their "rawness". Add the Olive oil in a slow steady stream while whisking to emulsify the dressing. Other ingredients you could add to this vinaigrette include: 1 Tbsp. Cornichon, 1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, 1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon, 1 tsp. Minced Capers or 2 Minced Anchovies.

To serve dish out a portion of the Greens, top with Grilled Steak and drizzle with dressing. Ooh La La!

Flat Iron Steak

One of my favorite (and increasingly available) cuts of beef is the Flat Iron Steak. It is cut from the shoulder (chuck) area of the beef and may also be labeled a "Top Blade Steak". Because of it's excellent marbeling it provides a great combination of flavor and tenderness. I like to substitute a Flat Iron for Skirt or Flank Steak in recipes like Carne Asada. To prepare it for the latter a little fresh squeezed lime juice, thin sliced onioin, salt and pepper make a quick marinade. It can also benefit from being marinated overnight, here is a recipe for a basic steak marinade that I will use for the recipe in the next post:

Basic Steak Marinade
1/2 cup Red Wine
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Worchestershire Sauce
4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1/8 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1/2 tsp. Rosemary
2 Bay Leaves, crushed
2 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1 1/2 tsp. Brown Sugar

Combine all ingredients and pour over steak. Marinate for 24 hrs. turning once.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup w/ Bok Choy

Here is a recipe that utilizes the Asian-inspired Chicken Stock from the last post (although any chicken or veggie stock will do). It is loaded with healthful ingredients to boost the immune system as well as the Spirit. I took the chicken that was poached during the stock making process and rubbed it with Peanut Oil and Chinese 5-Spice powder. I then put it under the oven broiler until the skin was crisped and golden brown (turning to cook both sides). I let the chicken cool then picked and diced the meat.

8-10 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 cups Sliced Mushrooms (Shitake, Crimini, Button, Portobello, Wood Ear, Oyster, etc.)
2.5 cups Diced Chicken, cooked
3 cups Bok Chop (or other Asian Green or Cabbage), Julienne
1 cup Carrot, biased-cut
2 tsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 tsp. Thai Chile (or Serrano), minced
3 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
1.2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp. Sesame or Chile Oil
1/2 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper
8 oz. Udon Noodles, cooked according to package directions (substitute any fresh or dried Asian Noodles)
Garnishes: Thin-sliced Scallion, Minced Fresh Chile, Julienne Cilantro, Julienne Kefir Lime leaf

In a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot bring the Chicken Stock to a boil. Add Ginger, Garlic, Carrot, Chile, Mushrooms, Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, and Fish Sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the Bok Choy and Chicken and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Finally add the cooked Udon and allow to cook an additional couple of minutes.

Portion the finished soup into individual bowls and garnish as you like. Season at the table with Soy Sauce, Sriracha and fresh Lime Juice. Enjoy!