Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Carne Adovada

So Here in New Mexico I was introduced to a wonderful dish known as Carne Adovada, which means literally Marinated Meat in Spanish. Normally it is a concoction of the cheapest cut of pork that can be found and gobs of red chile.

No. Not the chili with beans you get out of a can. Chile. With an "e" ending. This type of chile is what you can find in your Hispanic area of the supermarket, and--if you are lucky like me--everywhere in your supermarket. It is normally found either in whole pods as roasted dried chile in bags (Hatch is a common brand), or as pre-ground powder in the spice section. I prefer to use the ground stuff because it is easy for me to get a hold of, and eliminates the step of taking papery whole red chilies and turning them into tasty red sauce.

So here is my recipe for Carne Adovada as tweaked by me. And I really don't use the measurements listed as it is more of a dumping of ingredients until it satisfies my tastes, but this is a good place to start.

Also note that this recipe is good for either a crock pot or an oven. I have even made it on the stove but it requires more babysitting and that is just too much darn work.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds Pork--trimmed (cheap Cuts Are Best)
  • ¾ pounds Red Chile Pods (or 1c. Red Chile Powder)
  • 1 whole Onion--yellow or white
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 4 cups Water Or Chicken Stock
  • 2 teaspoons Oregano, Dried
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin, Ground
  • 3 teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Cinnamon, Ground
  • 2 Tablespoons Vinegar--Cider Or White
  • Cheese, Sour Cream, Tortillas, Eggs To Garnish
Destructions

(If using powdered red chile skip this step) Combine Chilies, water or stock, onion, garlic and spices in a large stockpot and simmer for 20 minutes covered.
While simmering stock, finish trimming and cube pork into 3/4″ to 1″ cubes.
Puree simmered stock and solids in a blender or food processor in small batches, straining the whole mess if it looks lumpy or if there are large pieces of chile left after pureeing. ***This is a basic red chile sauce that you can find all over New Mexico (when they ask you ,"Red or Green?" they mean red or green chile). It doesn't really take long to make and it lasts forever in the freezer and for at least a week in the fridge if not longer.***

Add cubed pork and vinegar to the red chile puree. If you have extra time, let the meat marinade for up to 36 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pork and chile mix into an oven safe container with a lid (or aluminum foil to cover tightly). Bake for at least an hour or until you can’t stand the tasty fumes coming from your oven.
****Crock Pot Option****
Place pork and chile mixture on high for about 3 hours or on low for 6-8 hours and cook until meat is tender (low is better)
Serve with shredded cheese, tortillas, sour cream, and (in the New Mexican tradition) over-medium or over-easy eggs on top.
This dish freezes well and reheats like a charm. It is great with rice and refried beans as well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Well huh.

My mother always told me to try everything at least three times in your life to make sure that you REALLY hate it.

I gave cilantro a good try. Several tries in fact. Honest to goodness fork to mouth tries...and I have to admit that I hate it with a passion. Not a fiery burning passion--that is reserved for eggplant--but with a passion none the less. And yet... I had a dish for supper that featured, no, highlighted that evil weed.

Let me go waaaaay back to my first few episodes with cilantro. Mostly this was the New Mexican tradition of making salsa with a few tomatoes and chilies and a few fist fulls of cilantro to "
add color". Bah. To me it literally tasted like soap. Spicy tomatoes and soap is not good eatin' in my book. So I swore off cilantro for a while and decided that later on I would try it again.

I moved out to a small town for college and was faced, yet again, with the greenery from hell in all my tasty Mexican and Thai foods. I love both of these cuisines and most recipes need something to put in the weed's place... but parsley and basil just never really did the trick. But I tried anyway.

Round three. CSA to the rescue.

Our local Community Supported Agriculture group sends my house a weekly box of goodness, but sometimes they foul it up a bit by adding in eggplant (which my housemates both like and I despise but can cook it well so it works) and cilantro (which two of us don't like and neither of us who cook can come up with anything for it but the compost pile). In this week's box was--you guessed it--a nice big heapin' helpin' of cilantro. Well huh. I figured that it would be another offering to the compost bin. But there was to be more to this innocent little bunch of green.

As my housemates left for the night I contemplated the demise of the foul weed in my fridge. I could bake it into dog biscuits to make them have fresh breath... or I could freeze it and give it to someone who really wants it... or I could give that third try a chance... ... Nah.

I sat down at my computer and was poking around the internet for inspiration for dinner and came upon a wonderful idea: Pesto! I have all the ingredients; garlic, cheese, oil, pine nuts, basi...

dangit.

My poor lonesome basil plants have not taken the neglect well and, though there was a sizeable amount of various types of basil, there was no where near enough for the piles needed for pesto. Foiled by my lack of full garden again. Or was I...

I have used extra parsley in place of basil for a twist on pesto before... what if I made Cilantro pesto... it just might be edible if hidden under tasty cheesy garlicy goodness. On the other hand it might be a waste of my time and ingredients. Meh. If not the man would eat leftovers. I set to it with a slight stop off to see what the internet had to say about cilantro pesto.

The only consensus other than cilantro, oil, garlic, salt and pepper was that it really needs a spicy kick to prevent the soapiness and it needed some vinegar. Well now, if they are going to go right out and make sure to avoid the very thing I despise about the upcoming dish, then I would have follow through with the tip. I had no jalapeƱos, and the new crop of chilies is not quite out yet, but I do keep around chile flakes and cayenne so that would just have to do.

Since I don't really like raw garlic (well... my stomach doesn't) I tossed a few tablespoons of minced garlic and some olive oil into a dish and then sprinkled in some chile flakes and salt and pepper on it. I microwaved it till it for 45 seconds and then dumped it into the blender with pine nuts, the entire (4-5cups) bunch of washed cilantro (stem ends cut off, but most of the stem still on), a few black olives and brine, and 1/2 cup of feta cheese.

I let my blender go at that for a bit and came back to something decidedly not soapy. But it was missing something... more cheese! I added a 1/4 c. shredded parmesian and a 1/4c. sour cream to get the texture a little creamier and blended it more. It tasted heavenly. WAIT. I just said that something with the main ingredient as cilantro was real food! What was this world coming to!

I was now desperate for food. While I heated up some leftover Tinkyada gluten free pasta (best of all those gf pastas ever), I used the handy dandy soup feature on my blender to heat up the pesto to perfect sauce temperature and then... I ... ate up all that my pasta could possibly hold (plus a bit that I faked). I ate cilantro and liked it.

I guess that the third time really is a charm. Now I need to see if I can get my cilantro-hating housemate to get near it... she hates cilantro even more than me. That could be interesting.

So in case I need this later when the CSA box arrives with that bunch of green:
Cilantro Pesto
4-5cups cilantro--washed and bottoms of stems removed
1/2 c. pine nuts
1 1/2 Tbs. Olive brine + a few olives (or just use vinegar or Italian dressing)
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. feta cheese
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. red chile flakes
1 tsp salt.
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Place garlic, chilie, pepper, salt and oil in a microwaveable bowl. Heat 45 seconds or until garlic is cooked a bit. Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Heat, serve on pasta... bread... starch of your choice...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I love you Mr. Brown

For the record:
Sinus surgery... more accurately: sinusotomies... suck.

Also for the record:
Alton Brown... re: gluten free goodness really really wins

So to expound a bit, I had a complete rotorooter job of my sinuses last Tuesday. Whee. I would like to not have a resident sinus infection sitting there making my head unhappy. This means that right now my head is... well... rather unhappy, but in good time it will be much better than the alternative of not surgery.
Surgery also means that my sleep schedule has been shot to hell though I have been getting lots of sleep. I have been on a sort of 6 hours on, 6 hours off rotation of awake/sleep. Since I am no longer living pill to pill on the pain meds (yay happy meds!) I just sort of have been sleeping when my body orders or strongly suggests that I should rest. I have lots of experience at ignoring those suggestions. My body also has rather potent ways of making me sleep though... like shutting off my focal point vision till I sit down, shut up, and turn off my brain for a while (yay swelling. /pout)

In other news, this sleep cycle has a whole bunch of unexpected side effects. The first is that the dogs are really confused by me being awake--but on the same token it means that I have now seen them off the leads long enough that I trust them to behave themselves free in the yard now. Second on the list of goodies is that I have been cooking. Not intensive cooking, as that takes brainpower and non-medicated thought processes, but rather the instant gratification of FOOD! (and if I feel like eating it, it must be worth making because food in general has not been very appetizing of late) Along that same vein is that I have had time to just sit and surf the internets. For said food. Often.

Insert Alton Brown. Master of Good Eats and food geekery. I may not always agree with how he does his food, but I always appreciate why he does things the way he does. And he had a show recently on food allergies apparently where he made ***Insert fanfare***

Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!!
Not the store variety of cardboard or grainy wafers, no, these are the chewy yet crisp excuse to eat chocolate and milk and cookiedough straight from the spoon. Which I am doing right now as a matter of fact. I know that they will cook up well... but I am fighting myself to actually get them to the oven to become COOKies...
... rather than heavenly dough that I will devour at my not so slow leisure
So they are chilling in the fridge per instructions... waiting for their doom... either on a pan then my tummy... or I'll just skip the pan altogether.

If this post seems a bit fragmented, it probably is. I still have a micro dose of happy meds in me to keep my head from sploding. And I have cookie dough. The latter is probably more to blame for the fragmentedness.