Monday, January 28, 2013

Carne Asada, Yes Chef, and The Homesick Texan


 I love to exercise. Well, I do love to stretch. Does that count? Exercise is something I desperately need to improve at. Really, what I love to do is read. I love to go the library. I dream of being locked in overnight. That wouldn’t be a nightmare for me. I’d bring lots of good healthy food to keep me company. Just kiddin’.


 In any case, I’ve read a few good books lately. Check out Marcus Samuelsson’s book, “Yes, Chef.” You may have seen Marcus on the Food Network channel. I, of course, would rather see him in his restaurant in Harlem the “Red Rooster.” That is if I ever get to New York again. It is a good read and he has a good story. It shows how small our world really is and what one can overcome on the road to success. Speaking personally, I admire his persistence and his perseverance while working through personal hardships. Yes, we all know the value of hard work and though we don’t always know where it might lead it proves to me that giving up is not an option! I need that attitude right now!

Restaurant kitchens have always fascinated me. The hierarchy, the craziness, the fraternity like atmosphere, combine to make what I imagine a murky pit of adrenaline would look like. And after reading this book it only reaffirms what a great chef must go through to reach the top. What a life! Stop and think every time you have  a memorable meal what it takes to get that food to your mouth.

I tell my husband that every night when making dinner. He’s lucky to be served a home cooked meal most nights of the week. All I ask is that he show his face about 5 minutes before plating time to set the table and feed the dogs. I mean really, is that asking too much? Tuning to his right channel on the TV, is not assistance in my book.  And so when he says “What do I do? I tell him. Usually the same thing every night. His response is always the same, “I know.” Now I tell him that is the WRONG answer. The correct response is “Yes, Chef.” It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

I also read “The Homesick Texan’s” cookbook this week.


 My husband is from Texas. All I can say is that I wish I would have seen that food in Texas. What have I been missing? It makes me want to visit again. This is a book I would love to have on my shelf. It covers everything from salsas to various pickled veggies, to Corn Chowder with Roasted Jalapenos and Bacon, a variety of chilis, coffee chipotle brisket, and Dr. Pepper ribs, tomato cobbler and coconut tres leche cake (which I better lose 10 lbs before making). It made me hungry and isn’t that the best thing you can say about a cookbook?


And so I ventured to the little Mexican grocery not far from here. I picked up some pasilla dried chilies that I couldn’t find in my regular grocery,  some chorizo. and a well trimmed very beautiful boneless pork shoulder at a lot less than I would have paid at my above mentioned grocery. Go figure.

Earlier in the week when I was not being a bitch being nice, I asked my husband what he would like me to make for him. Quickly scanning the book he decided on the Carne Asado. It was a good choice. This is a great dish for the upcoming Super Bowl, of which I freely admit I have no idea who’s playing. But I  digress. This is good to serve for a crowd. Easy to do in a slow cooker. Serve it over rice in a bowl. or with tortillas to make your own burritos or tacos. It makes the house smell spicy and warm and is perfect with a beer or margarita. Make that two.

But back to my husband… Last night when he emerged for the second weekend of cleaning his office he immediately was drawn to my beautiful royal blue Le Creuset Dutch oven, which was a great gift from my parents. He didn’t stop at the TV. He just took a spoon and tasted while inhaling. He immediately set the table, fed the dogs, etc. He then asked ”Is there anything else I can do, DEAR? I responded that a margarita might be nice. To which he so smartly replied,”Yes Chef.” I think this is going to be a great week!



West Texas Carne Asado  (From Homesick Texan by Lisa Fain)
Serves: About 6-8
Time To Make: About 3 hours-not all active!
Ingredients:
12 dried ancho chilies (stems and seeds removed)
3 lbs boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt and Pepper
2 T lard, bacon grease or vegetable oil, divided
½ medium onion chopped
10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 t dried oregano
1 t ground cumin
¼ t ground allspice
1 ½ chicken broth or water
Cotija, lime wedges, flour tortillas for serving

Directions:
In a dry skillet heated on high, toast the ancho chilies for about 10 seconds or until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover the chilies. Leave the heat on until the water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chilies soak, about 30 minutes, until they are soft. Once they are hydrated, discard the water and rinse the chilies.

While the chilies are soaking, sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 T of the oil, grease or lard on medium heat, and brown the pork on each side. (You may have to do this in batches, otherwise the pork will not brown.)

Remove the browned pork and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. While occasionally stirring, cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Turn off the heat.

Place the onion and the garlic into a blender or food processor along with the drained, soaked chilies, oregano, cumin, allspice and ½ c of the chicken broth. Puree into a thick paste. Add salt to taste. Pour the chili paste back into the pot along with the remaining 1 c of chicken broth. While occasionally stirring, cook the chile sauce for 5 minutes on medium heat. This may gurgle!

Add the meat back into the pot and cook covered on low heat for 2 ½ hours, occasionally stirring. After an hour of cooking, taste and adjust seasonings and add water or broth, if the pot looks to dry. You do not want it too saucy, though! When done serve in bowls with Cotija cheese (I used feta because I like the saltiness) sprinkled on top, along with warm flour tortillas and lime wedges.


                                   


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4 comments:

  1. Very clever writing.... to help with you "diverse" more and digress less. It will be Baltimore vs. SF 49er's. May be next time you can write about the Super Bowl spread. No doubt you're had a thought on spreads for the SB. :)

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  2. You are so right but I think you reversed something! Thank you for all the other info. Does this mean crabcakes and cioppino? Or maybe dim sum? You have got me thinking now.

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  3. Oh, I've made this dish before. Not Lisa's recipe, but pretty similar. Really good stuff. And this whole post is good stuff! Very funny, Chef. ;-)

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  4. Thanks Mr. Riffs. It was a good dish and sometimes it helps to not be so serious. To much to worry about, don't you know?

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