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Carne Adovada

May 14th, 2007 | 12 Comments »

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I could perhaps subtitle this post “The Wait Coulda Killed Me” to get the point across that this dish takes time, people. The particular recipe I followed said to marinate the meat for 48 hours. That’s one heckuva long time to wait for something so good.

But it was worth it. Woweeee…. was it worth it.

Other recipes call for a 24 hour marinating period. The next time (heavy emphasis on ‘next time’ because it was THAT good!) I will only allow it to languish in its spicy and nose numbing marinade for a day before sending it off to the slow cooker. I can’t wait that long again for this delight.

Carne Adovada is described as ‘traditional New Mexicao pork in adobo sauce’. I found the recipe in a long forgotten cookbook that Mike had when we married called ‘Sante Fe Hot and Spicy- Hot New Recipes from Santa Fe Chefs’. On the back of the book it says “Attention Chile lovers, if you like fiery food, here’s the book for you, Kate and Mike.” All right, no, it doesn’t have our names on it, but it seems to be geared towards our culinary tastes so I took a generous creative leap there. This multi step recipe first has you create a simply eye watering concoction of dried chile peppers with various and sundry other items that you simmer in a pot and then put through a food processor, turning it into a rich, thick sauce that you pour over cubed pork shoulder and allow it sit for two days. Once it has sufficiently soaked up all that capsaicin, you cook it slowly until it is meltingly tender and so aromatic that it drives you just plain mad in your quest to stuff it shamelessly into your mouth; rich sauce dripping down your chin.

I admit that, yes, I did this. No apologies either. No one saw me so it doesn’t count.

I expected that the finished product would be blazingly hot, but what I tasted was a pleasant zing that left my mouth tingly but still with all its nerve endings intact. The meat….oh, that meat was so achingly tender that it simply broke into great slivers in my mouth as easily as an empty egg shell cracks under pressure. One could just push an errant finger into a large chunk and it would break apart; no knife, no fork or even a spoon was needed. With our homemade tortillas, some cheese and shredded lettuce, it was a meal that caused us all to swoon in delight. My sweet little carnivore had salivated over it all afternoon and was joyously rewarded with an intense protein high after two good sized burritos. Feed him meat and he’s all yours. He even mowed the lawn and whacked the weeds around the whole house without any complaint because HE KNEW what was for dinner. Meat+Mom= Griffin Love.

I followed the chile sauce recipe fairly closely, using Ancho and New Mexico dried chiles. The processing of the solids is very messy…..don’t wear good clothes and go in batches. You will need to strain out all the chile skins and any seeds that get into it. I had my meat all cut up and strained the sauce right into the pan with the meat. Still, I made an all encompassing mess, splattering my counter tops with red splotches that made my dish rag look like it had been used to clean up a murder scene. Thank goodness for bleach. I actually had the bright idea of putting the meat into a crockpot liner to marinate, which then went seamlessly into the crockpot to cook when it was ready. Sometimes my brilliancy amazes me. When it came time to put it all together, I left out the extras to go in the marinade as I wanted it to be mild enough for Griffin to eat. Follow the recipe, or sub in what amounts you are comfortable with, but if this is something you think you would love to death, please do yourself a favor and make it. You will not be disappointed at all.

Red Chile Sauce
3/4# dried chile peppers; ancho, New Mexico, guajillo…..you pick your heat level.
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves fresh garlic, smashed with skins removed
2 t. dried oregano
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. kosher salt

De-stem and de-seed chile peppers; place in large stock pot and cover with hot water. Soak for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to pot, bring to a boil then simmer over low heat for half an hour. Drain off solids, reserve liquid. Allow to cool slightly, then process solids in batches in a food processor using reserve liquid for proper consistency. Strain through a wire sieve, pressing on the solids to extract the liquids. This should make about a quart.

Carne Adovada
3-4 pounds pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1/2″ cubes and trimmed of most fat.
4 c. Red Chile Sauce (just use the amount a batch would make)
2 New Mexico dried chile peppers, destemmed, deseeded and crumbled
4 t. red pepper flakes
2 sticks cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in glass bowl and stir to mix. Cover and chill for 24-48 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon before cooking. Cooking method: This can be done in a crockpot on medium for about 4 hours or low for longer; it also can be brought to a boil on the stove then transferred to a 350 degree oven and baked, covered, for 2 hours.

NOTE: When the meat is done, plenty of liquid will be in the pot with any fat that cooked off. Allow the meat to sit and cool, then pour off the thin liquid that has accumulated, leaving the solids in with the meat. If you chill it thoroughly, the fat will be easier to remove. This step is entirely optional if the fat content does not bother you.

Serve with tortillas, avocado, shredded lettuce, cheese etc…… or simply grab a spoon and shovel it in.

Curried Vegetables with Yellow Daal & Coconut Rice

May 11th, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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Curried Vegetables with Yellow Daal and Coconut Rice

For the Daal:
1 ½ c. either red lentils or yellow split peas
4-5 c. water

Use 4 c. water for lentils; 5 for split peas. Rinse legumes well. Place legumes and water in heavy pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until legumes are tender. Puree in batches in food processor with cooking water, adding more if necessary for smoothness. Daal will thicken upon standing.

Curried Vegetables:
Vegetable oil or ghee
1 chopped onion
2 red peppers, cored and diced
½ head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
5-6 oz. fresh spinach
2 T. fresh grated ginger root
1 T. mild curry powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 ½ c. water or vegetable broth
Juice of half a fresh lemon
Salt to taste

In a deep skillet, heat oil or ghee and add onions, cook until soft and translucent. Add peppers, cook until soft. Stir in cauliflower, curry powder and cumin. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in sweet potatoes and grated ginger. Stir to combine. Pour in water, stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until cauliflower and potato are fork tender but still firm. De-stem and coarse chop spinach. When vegetables are tender, stir in spinach and lemon juice. Simmer to wilt spinach then serve immediately with the Daal and Coconut Rice.

Coconut Rice
1 ½ c. water
1 c. basmati rice
½ c. coconut milk
½ t. turmeric
¼ t. kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
¼ c. currants or golden raisins

In a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, bring water to a boil. Rinse rice well, and add to boiling water along with all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and remove cinnamon stick before serving

Kate's Ambrosia

May 7th, 2007 | 6 Comments »

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So with all the good news out there about the health benefits of eating nuts, having a container of trail mix, or gorp if you are so inclined, on your counter for snacks seems like it would be a great idea, doesn’t it? Lots of grocers and all natural food stores carry bulk products where you can scoop out what you want and customize your mix to your liking. It’s a simple, easy snack that you can take anywhere; Mike will scoop up a baggie full to have in the car when he has a client meeting and it keeps him from stopping to get something junky when he is on the road.

For our favorite blend, I like to use dried apricots, craisins, dried blueberries and black raisins for the fruit; soynuts, unsalted roasted almonds, unsalted sunflower nuts, pistachios and salted roasted peanuts for the nutty component. I throw in handfuls and stir until it looks right; it certainly isn’t rocket science. Some salt is ok, and for whatever oddball reason, I really like dried apricots dusted with some of that salt. I have sometimes put in chocolate chips, flaked coconut or currants too. It’s entirely up to you as to what you use, that’s the beauty of it. So if you’ll pardon me, I’ve got the munchies and a perfect snack to satisfy it.