Tonight for dinner I practiced a bit of desperation cooking. It is the kind of cooking where you have to eat something, but you really don’t feel like doing anything creative, or interesting, or even that is actually cooking. Luckily I have a toddler that is in his “I can live on Air and Milk” phase. I tried to be nice to him today and got him one of his favorite foods – Chick-fil-A. Long story short … I ended up with a CFA sandwich that had approximately 2 gnat sized bites taken out of it in my ‘fridge.

So I asked myself “What would Sandra Lee do?” and then I started “cooking”. I fished around in the back of the freezer and came up with 6 cubes of frozen spaghetti sauce and tossed them into a saucepan with some olive oil and garlic. Then I arranged the piece of CFA on a cookie sheet flanked by it’s buns (I peeled off the pickles and ate them). Sprinkled some garlic powder on the buns and some shredded mozzarella on the chicken and then slapped them all into a cold oven. Fired it up to 350 and put some water on to boil for spaghetti.

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda … Faux Chicken Parmesan.

I am ashamed.

Not looking so embarassing after all

Not looking so embarassing after all

But, it makes me feel much better about posting this meal, which I previously thought might be too boring/pedestrian to blog about. Obviously standards are not something that I am really strict about around here.

Pork Cutlet Parmesan

So lets talk about the Tyranny of Chicken. Perhaps it is the fact that Veal is both expensive and gauche that has led to the rise of Chicken Parmesan – but somehow the poultry lobby has managed to make any other version of a “Parmesan” dish nigh on unthinkable.

That is not to say that I bust out the boxed baby cow for a home meal – moral beliefs aside, I am too much of a cheapskate. But I do believe if I can pound it flat, bread it, pan fry it, and put some cheese on it then it is a viable candidate for inclusion in a “Parmesan” dish.

When my spelunking adventure into the freezer unearthed pork cutlets – the game was on!

A Process

Take chubby pieces of meat that are roughly the size of your closed hand (like you are going to give someone a high 5, not Jazz hands) and place them on a piece of plastic wrap. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top of them and whack the bejeebus out of them with something heavy and flat.

Not literally, you actually have to be kinda careful about not tearing the meat – but it isn’t hard. Just thwack it with something and get it flatter – now we are looking for Jazz Hands size. Do the breading thing to your pieces of flattened flesh.

The Hardware:
Skillet with oven-safe handle containing a kinda thin layer of vegetable oil and an oven preheated to 350ish.

The Breading Thing

Set up three containers with the following mixtures:
1: A beaten Egg
2: A mixture of Bread Crumbs (I am all snooty and like Panko, because nothing says Italian Breaded Meat like Japanese bread crumbs) and Parmesan cheese.
3: A mixture of plain ole flour, salt and pepper, (if you likea the espicy you can adda some red peppah).

I like having 1 & 2 in Tupperware type containers – boxes, you know something with high sides to contain the mess. 3 can just be on a plate – it isn’t crucial. When breading you need to remember that wet stuff sticks to dry stuff. So to start with your meat is wet so you want to dip it into the flour first – not to heavy, just a dusting. Then you dip it into the beaten egg to get it wet so that the dry crumbs will stick to your cutlet. From the egg mixture you move to the breadcrumb mixture – I tend to pat it to get things good and stuck to each other. I also just like fiddling with things.

If you are doing a small number (I tend to be doing 2) place them directly into your oven-safe skillet with a goodly layer of hot vegetable oil shimmering away. (Do we need to talk about melty handles again?) Let the first side get good and brown and crispy then flip them over. Chuck the whole skillet into the oven and it will brown on the other side. When it is close to being done open the oven and sprinkle whatever kind of cheese on top that tickles your fancy – I tend to always have mozzarella around the house, but I wouldn’t kick provolone out of bed.

I really cannot tell you how long to cook the things because I don’t know how efficient your pounding is. It won’t take to terribly long. Make sure you have your pasta on the boil and about ready to go and that your sauce is pretty much done and just bubbling happily on a back burner. The cutlets can sit for a bit while the pasta is finishing – but you don’t want to lose the crispy. I mean, isn’t that what it is all about? Plate your pasta, sauce to liking and top with crispy meat cutlet.

Voila! Fancy pants dinner; if Fancy Pants to you is Olive Garden, and considering the frequency of my dining out Olive Garden might as well be Sotto Sotto.

As an homage to the originator of this challenge at thursday night smackdown I am going to “Live Blog” my contribution to this months competition. Except for the fact that there is no way anyone would possibly be reading this real time. So in actuality it will be in “Live Blogging” format without the fun of it actually being, you know, live.

Step One:

The theme is picnic foods so what the heck can I make – hows about a “Hand Pie”? They have sufficient picnic type cred to qualify right? I hope? And the first thing a hand pie needs is a crust. For a hand pie, or pasty if you will (and considering the connotations that you dirty birds might apply to that I think pasty is much more fun), you need a crust that will stand up to some abuse. My go to for this, and actually most pie type applications, is a hot water dough. I like them because they are not even remotely fussy and are pretty much idiot proof. Say what you will about the idiots. And I know you are going to read it and be in total disbelief that it could be a decent pie/tart dough.

3:45 pm – Try it. I DARE you.

1 1/2 C Flour
1/2 t Kosher Salt
1 egg, well beaten
2T + 2 t Water
1/3 C Vegetable Shortening

Combine flour and salt in a heat proof bowl, whisk lightly to get major lumps out. Put a small saucepan on the heat and combine water and shortening over low. Make a well in the flour and add the beaten egg, cut egg in with a knife. This process will seem similar but nowheres near as hard as the whole cutting butter in. As with the pain in the a$$ butter version you are looking to end up with something that is homogeneous and with clumps the size of peas or a little smaller.

3:51 – By this time the mixture on the heat should be close to boiling, and that is just where you want it. Once it has come to a boil and is trying to spit little blobs of molten fat at you – turn off the heat and pour directly into the bowl of flour. Did I mention that the bowl needs to be heatproof? I really wouldn’t use plastic. Stir everything together until it cools enough to mush it around with your hands. Make sure everything is combined and then pat into a disc shape (or 2, I did one but in retrospect 2 would have been better) and wrap in plastic wrap. Park them in the ‘fridge for about an hour.

4:00 Now – aren’t you glad that this is only faux live-blogging. If it were real you would be all like, crap, now I have to wait an hour and I would be all like HAHA I’m gonna go play Bejeweled Blitz …

4:30 – For the Filling: things I had laying around the kitchen

If this Pasty had a size it would be DD

If this Pasty had a size it would be DD

1/2 lb ground Pork
1 small apple, grated
1/2 C Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 med onion, chopped (1 C)
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t each Pepper, Cinnamon and Ground Ginger

Put some olive oil in a pan and cook your ground pork adding the spices at the end of the cooking time. Remove to a holding bowl. Add more oil and toss in the onions, saute until you think that all the gunk on the bottom of the pan is going to burn and say “OH CRAP” and add a little bit of water to “deglaze” the pan like you are all professional and stuff. Cook it until just before the “OH CRAP” point again and then add the grated apple. Go to directly to “OH CRAP” and pull the water stunt again. Add a pinch of each of the above seasonings for good measure. When most of the water has cooked off, but before everything starts sticking to the bottom of the pan again – dump it all into the bowl with the pork. Allow to cool. Preheat your oven to 375.

5:00 – When your pie dough is ready you need to make it into 2 roughly dinner plate sized discs. If you are a good little reader you have 2 discs to work with and voila! If you are like me and didn’t think of it, you will have to divide the dough into 2 before you roll. Mix the cheese into the other glop and divide evenly between the two discs. Stick your finger into a little bit of water and run it along the bottom 1/2 edge of the discs and fold the suckers into 1/2 moons. Get all fancy pants with a fork and crimp the edges. Put on a sprayed baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.

The Rest of the Story:

I also made a roasted potato salad to go with this, but this has already gotten way longer than I would want to read – so why should I inflict it upon y’all? I’ll do that at a later date. Also on the menu was a garden fresh sliced tomato – a perfect southern picnic food if there ever was one. What I will let you know is that the “dinner plate” sized pasties are much too large if you have a normal appetite. What should have happened was to divide the dough and fillings into quarters and make 4 of the puppies. With 1 1/2 lbs of potatoes you have enough ‘tater salad for 4 and a single sliced tomato can feed 4. So realistically this was a meal for 4 instead of 2. In actuality my husband ate his whole pasty and so will go hungry for lunch tomorrow when I am eating my leftovers.

Not really, but it is fun to imagine.

The Low Down:

Pork: reality – I bought a 2 pack Boston Butt from the warehouse store and butchered it up into roasts, cutlets, stew chunks and ground meat and put it into the freezer. Did the math and it came out to $1.40 per pound. But that isn’t realistic for most people. Lets say I got a good deal @ $1.99/lb and count this as $1 for the meat.
Apple: ~ 8 oz bought @ .99/lb = .50
Cheese: again the reality is that I bought it in a 5 lb bag and froze in 8 oz portions and it comes out to about .90 for a 1/2 lb. So my half cup cost about .23. On normal sale @ Kroger they run $1.60 per bag so that call it .40.
Onion: .25
Flour: I know you are gonna kill me, but I buy this in 25 lb bags and keep it in my freezer. Lets just skip the math and say .15.
Egg: 2.50/12 = .21
Shortening: no clue, lets say .10
Potatoes: were given to me free by my neighbor but lets say 1 1/2 lbs @ 5 lbs for 2.50 = .75
Tomato: also a freebie from my neighbor.  Lets say I bought it for .40.

Pantry Items: Spices, Olive Oil, Mustard, Garlic, AC Vinegar = .25

Total which I submit to Hobo Tuesday: 1+.50+.40+.25+.15+.21+.10+.75+.40+.25 = $4.01 (picnic for 4 unless you have a hungry man and then for 3)

Actual Total if you are an obsessive compuslive shopper like me who has a big chest freezer and a generous neighbor with a 1 1/2 acre “garden”: .70+.50+.23+.25+.08+.21+.10+.25 = $2.32

Ever since I read about the pre-made Empenada wrappers labeled I have been keeping my eyes out for them, and this past week I found them at the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market – score! Of course I purchased some and they have been waiting in my freezer quite impatiently. So yesterday I took five out in the morning and put them in the ‘fridge to thaw.  They would obviously need a filling so I also threw in some ground pork (ground by yours truly herself from a Boston Butt!) to get unfrozen also.

When filling time rolled around I was feeling contrary and did not want to make anything with Mexican flavors. I had a playdate over lunch and had prepared Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole for all us Mommies and I was just not feeling the Mex again. My mother was over for dinner and she asked me what we were having to which I replied “I’m making it up as I go along”. She gave me that look and said “Should be interesting”.

Just for that I made her write down what I did so that I could put it here. When all was said and done and I told her supper was ready but then corrected myself and said I would have to take pictures first she laughed at me. Harumph.

Do you think they are crispy - no sag!

Do you think they are crispy - no sag!

Apricot Pork Empenada Type Thingies

The Hardware: Skillet, Stirring device, Baking sheet, Oven (sarcasm optional)

The Software:
12 Pre-made Empenada Wrappers (there is enough filling for 12, but they come ten to a pack – possibly a liberal tasting policy would be best?)
1 lb Ground Pork (lamb would be delish also)
1 lg Onion, chopped
12 Dried Apricots, chopped
1/2 t Cinnamon, ground
1 t Cumin, ground
1 T Minced Garlic (I am a lazy SOB and use that bottled crap, if using actual garlic that comes from a clove one might want to halve the amount)
1/2 C Carrots, peeled and grated
1 t Salt & hefty pinch Black Pepper (to taste but I hate it when people say to taste and don’t at least give me a hint)

1) Saute onions in some kind of vegetable oil until they are nice and soft, add pork and cook until mostly done. Crunch the pork up with the tip of your stirring device so that it is nice and crumbly.

2) Add everything else except carrots – cook for awhile. At the last minute stir in the carrots and cook for a minute (the last one as I said).

3) To make empenada type thingies follow directions for the wrappers and add 1/4 C filling per pastry. Seal well and do that fancy pants crimpy trick with a fork around the edges. Bake on a sprayed cookie sheet in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 15 – 20 minutes or until done. I painted the tops with olive oil to get them to brown and it didn’t really work, so at the last minute I rubbed a stick of butter on them like I was coloring them with a crayon to get some browning.

Hacks/Verdict:

The packaging did not have any directions for baking, only deep fry. Having eaten them baked I can say they were right. If you want to make something like this baked I think it is best to make your own pastry. My guess is if these had been deep fried they would have been delicious, but as is they were kinda hard and dry. I am sure they would have absorbed plenty of fat from the frying to alleviate the dry problem.

The filling itself was pretty durn tasty if I do say so myself. I only made 5 empenadas and intend to reheat the filling with a little water to make it saucy. Then I am going to serve it over rice and I expect it will make fabulous leftovers. As I mentioned lamb would also be delicious in this application, but I am not certain that beef would go well with the apricots.

My mom liked them – so yay me! Next time around I will share with you the embarrassing “only one salad dressing option” fiasco of the evening, but for now I will bask in glory.

The mantra “You eat with your eyes first” is everywhere. At times one could almost think that perfection in plating supersedes the food itself, but I have a confession to make. I seem to have a problem. You see, I have recently come to terms with the fact that I appear to like food that looks like a big pile of glop.

Really, it is almost impossible for a decent looking picture to be taken of many of my meals. Needless to say they do not meet with the beauty ideals of many of the food porn aggregators. But I am not going to let that stop me from eating this messy but divine food. Nor am I going to allow the pretty police to shame me into not sharing the results here. What am I talking about, if you look back in my archives (such as they are) you will see. I’ll wait …

dum, di, dum ………..

Nah, too impatient. Here’s an example for you:

So ugly, yet so yummy

So ugly, yet so yummy

I cannot explain my recent decision to wade into the wilds of Indian cuisine. I have a friend who is mildly obsessed (if that is possible, kinda contradictory) with all things Indian. Never have I really eaten Indian food in a restaurant, except for Tandoori and that doesn’t count. All I know is that I found myself browsing the bulk spices at Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market and for some reason felt compelled to purchase the tub of Madras Curry – Mild. I think it was the Mild that got me, because I am a big fat sissy when it comes to heat.

With my Madras Curry – Mild I made a delicious but horridly ugly Lentil, Potato & Coconut curry that was off some British website. I loved it, and that really surprised me. On my next trip to the library I checked out Julie Sahini’s Introduction to Indian Cooking and haven’t looked back. I have already renewed the due date so I don’t have to take it back too soon.

Gosht Masala: adapted from Introduction to Indian Cooking

The Hardware: Heavy sauce pan, crock pot, rice cooker.

The Software:
1 1/2 lbs Pork Butt in 1 1/2 in chunks
~3 T Canola Oil
2 C Onion, finely chopped
1 T Ginger, Fresh grated
3 t Garlic, minced
2 t Cumin, ground
1 T Coriander, ground
1/4 t Cayenne
1 T Paprika
1 t Tumeric
1 C Tomato sauce
Salt to taste

1) Heat 1 T oil in pan and sear meat on all sides. When nicely browned, remove to the crock pot – pot (or should that be crock pot crock?). Add some more oil and saute the onion for 10 – 15 min, until nice and brown. Use your spoon to make sure the leftover porky bits don’t burn.

2) Add ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, paprika & turmeric to the onions and stir like the dickens – keep scraping with your spoon. Heat for 3 min or just until you think that everything is going to burn, then toss in the tomato sauce. Add in some water ~ 1 C or so, and “deglaze” the pan. Use your spoon to scrape up all the brown gunk the meat left behind, take your time and you will be rewarded.

3) Add salt at this point, but remember you can always add more later. Pour the sauce into the crock pot crock and add more water and/or tomato sauce so that the meat is covered. I didn’t have all day so I cooked it on high for about 3 1/2 hours. I am guessing you could go low and slow for hours. Your goal is to get the meat falling apart tender.

4) Once it is done, it really behooves you to put it in the ‘fridge and let it sit for a couple of hours before you serve it. Overnight is even better, several days ain’t gonna hurt it one bit. Serve over rice.

Hacks:

Well, I actually left out one whole ingredient that the recipe called for, and that is Cilantro. You are supposed to sprinkle 1/3 C of chopped fresh Cilantro over the top at the end. Would probably be extra tasty and might have even made the picture more attractive – but I didn’t have it and this dish was still mmm, mmm, noise making happy.

Also, the original recipe called for boneless leg of Lamb chunks, which I was fresh out of. I did have the pork chunks, 3/4 lbs worth, so I used those and made a half batch. I used my itty bitty crock pot that is normally only used for keeping my Velveeta+Rotel dip from congealing into one creepy, orange cylinder of Midwestern pot-luck disaster, and it worked fine. The non-crock pot directions call for adding the meat back in at step 3 and simmering, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. 1 1/2 hours that I didn’t have to be tending the stove.

Finally, the recipe called for pureed tomato, not tomato sauce. I bought the wrong thing at the store, my guess is the extra onion, garlic and oregano in the sauce didn’t hurt a thing. One thing I did not do was add any veggies, and I really wish I had. Veggies would make this a one pot wonder. The question is, what veggies would be appropriate here? Do any of y’all have any ideas?

And please, don’t say cauliflower.

I hate cauliflower.

Scary Zombie Broccoli vegetable.

When I made the Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Pork I did not set out to make pulled pork. After it was done cooking I looked at the roast that the original 2 1/2 lb chunk had become and thought “If we eat that in roast form portion control will be a goner”. At 2 1/2 lbs we should be able to get 10 servings (with the 4 oz serving of meat per person rule, technically). But have you ever sat down and carved a piece of succulent, dripping pork and stopped with only a chunk of meat the size of a deck of cards? I mean really? Who does that?

Hence the decision to pull the pork. By pulling it into shreds it filled up more visual space and gave the illusion of a large portion size without sacrificing my budget. I looked upon the mountain of meat I had created and said “It is good”. Apparently the biblical reference was not a good idea because the container in our ‘fridge has turned into a never-ending repository for pulled pork – loaves and fishes have got nothing on us.

Time to get creative, so now I am giving  you a non-recipe – more of an idea than anything else. How to change the flavor of an abundant leftover so that you don’t start eyeing the dog as a scapegoat.

Mmmm, cheesy and porky.

Mmmm, cheesy and porky.

BBQ Pork Pizza

The Hardware:

Actually up to you, I used a pizza pan but some people out there have a fancy pants pizza stone – whatever floats your boat.

The Ingredients:

Leftover Pulled Pork
Bottled BBQ Sauce (what, you thought I was gonna whip up some fancy sauce for lunch, no way. I busted out the bottle of KC Masterpiece lurking in the door of my ‘fridge.)
One small onion
Cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses (or whatever you like/got)
Pizza Dough*

Slice onion thinly and saute in olive oil over low heat until wilted and slightly golden.

Combine the pork with about 1/4 C of the BBQ sauce and set aside. Par-bake your pizza crust for around 5 – 7 minutes at 425 degrees. Apply additional sauce to the par-baked pizza crust to the quantity of your liking. Don’t use too much or it will make your crust soggy.

Attempt to distribute the pork over the sauce with a spoon and then realize that pulled pork just doesn’t cooperate. Get hands dirty and evenly distribute the pork and onions over the surface of the pizza, leaving an edge of about 1/2 inch. Add cheese on top – again to satisfy whatever twisted lactose desires you might have.

Place in oven for about 10 – 12 minutes or until your crust is nice and brown and your cheese is hot and bubblin’. My crust achieved brownness before my cheese achieved bubblin’ness so I turned the broiler on high for a few seconds as I anxiously hovered nearby with the oven door slightly open so that I could monitor the process and prevent the inevitable result of an unattended broiler moment.

Slice and serve. If Wolfgang can put BBQ chicken on his pizza and found an empire, then I can very well put pulled pork on mine and find lunch.

* I would give you a pizza dough recipe but right now my attempts at pizza dough have not been what one would consider to be noteworthy. The crust on this particular attempt was very disappointing in texture, so you really don’t want the details. When I finally manage a consistent and predictable product I will certainly share it with y’all. For now, you are probably best on your own.

There was a 2 1/2 lb piece of Boston Butt sitting in my ‘fridge and I had no idea what I wanted to do with it. One thing I did know is that I wanted to avoid both the Italian and Tex-Mex flavor profiles. Now, I have nothing against Italian and Tex-Mex – quite the opposite – I love them. They are the cuisines that I have the highest comfort level in practicing. I have come to understand them to the point where I can “wing it” without a recipe and be reasonably assured of a tasty supper. But this means we eat loads of tomatoes, oregano, beans and pasta.

And I really didn’t want to go that way with this chunk of meat. Which brings us to standing with a piece of pork sitting on the counter at 10:30 pm pondering the possibilities. Springing into action, I seasoned it with a rub and chucked it into the ‘fridge to plot against me overnight. The best decision is the one put off until tomorrow.

Ceci n'est pas une Barbecue

Ceci n'est pas une Barbecue

The Hardware:

Slow Cooker, Immersion blender, Large Saucepan

The Software:

2 1/2 lb Boston Butt
3 – 4 T Chopped Garlic (I used the stuff in the jar, if using fresh use your judgment)
2 – 3 T Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1 – 2 T Salt + plenty of pepper
1 t Sage, Powdered
1 Onion, coarsely chopped
2 Carrots, coarsely chopped
2 Stalks Celery, coarsely chopped
200 ml Pomegranate Juice (I know, but it is the size of a juice box and it is what I had)
Granulated Garlic

Set up your work space with some prep bowls. Fill one with a combo of the salt and pepper, put the rosemary in a second and the garlic in a third – we are gonna get porky. Rinse and dry the pork and then liberally season one side with salt & pepper, then rub in about half of the garlic and rosemary and sprinkle with sage. Flip the roast over and do the same for the other side. Make sure to rub the seasoning down on the edges of the roast as well. You are looking for some pretty dense coverage – so be generous and add more as you deem fit. Seal in a container and allow to hang out in the ‘fridge overnight.

You can either chop the veggies the night before and put them in the ‘fridge or do them in the morning. I did them in the morning because when I went to bed I had no freaking clue what I was going to do the next day. What I did do was place the veggies in the crock of a crock pot and place the seasoned roast on top. I then busted into my toddlers juice box stash and poured a box of pomegranate juice over top.

I didn’t get around to doing this until about 10:30 and I wanted to eat at 6:00, so I started out on high for a couple of hours and then turned it to low for the rest of the time. If you are setting this to chug along while you are out of the house then I would think low would be fine for the day. After the first hour I flipped the roast and then after the second I flipped it back. I don’t know why I did this. I read on someones blog that they had read on someones blog that they had read in Cooks Illustrated that this is a good thing to do when slow cooking.

I just like fiddling, so it seemed to be the thing to do.

However you cook it, cook low and slow until it is almost fall apart tender. Remove from juices to a cutting board and cover with foil. Realize that the juices are just too good to lose and also have a fit of frugality that will not allow you to discard the veggies. Transfer cooking juices and chunky bits to a large sauce pan and puree with an immersion blender (or do the blender thing – ‘sall good).

Simmer on low heat and season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic to taste. If your toddler happened to leave a half finished juice box laying around and you just happened to stash it in the ‘fridge when he wasn’t looking – well you could use that to brighten the flavor a bit. While the sauce is simmering, pull pork apart with two forks until nicely shredded and then return to sauce – stirring to mix well.

Slow Cooked Pork

Now, what shall I do with the leftovers?

What is this? I have no idea. If the flavors are anything they might be kinda French. Which might make this sorta a French barbecue. But that might be sacrilege. Whatever it was, we ate it with roasted potatoes and a chunk of homemade half-wheat bread.

For the Roasted Potatoes sneaking in from the left of the frame check here:

Roasted Potatoes, We Invented GBD

If you watch cooking competition shows you will be familiar with the tendency to call any food item constructed in a  (bread/pastry base, something edible, another layer of bread/pastry, something else edible topped of with a third layer of bread/pastry) fashion a “Napoleon”. Any actual resemblance to the food item that originally bore the moniker has been practically eliminated and the pastry/food/pastry/food/pastry format has been co-opted as a technique, with the technique defining the dish as opposed to the constituent elements. Interestingly enough, by this definition, the Big Mac is a Napoleon. But I digress.

I have brought this up because I am calling this dish Tomatillo Gumbo because of how it is served. It is a tasty stew-like mixture served over a bed of rice – just like gumbo. Any further resemblance is non-existent. A second point is that I have absolutely no Texan or Mexican background at all. So in reality this doesn’t have any basis in that cuisine either. One could call it Tex-Mex/New Orleans fusion – but that would imply that I had much familiarity with either cuisine.

I’ll just call it tasty.

Hardware:

Saucepan w/lid and Blender.

The Software:

8 oz Ground Pork
1 lb Tomatillos
1 Small Poblano Pepper
1 Onion
1 Bunch Cilantro
2 t Garlic
1 1/4 t Cumin
Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, Cayenne & Garlic Powder to taste.
1 t Apple Cider Vinegar (optional)

1) Remove husks from tomatillos and wash the sticky stuff off. Wash poblano and cut top off. Cut poblano in half and remove seeds and ribs, keep 1/2 for some other nefarious purposes and cut the other 1/2 into 1/4’s. Place poblano pieces and tomatillos in large saucepan and just cover with water.

2) Now, I just learned how to cook with tomatillos and I want to share some tips I have learned.

A – They float, so I am not really sure how you are supposed to “cover with water” when the little buggers keep rising to the top. I put enough water into the pot so that they float enough to not touch the bottom.

B – You are supposed to bring them to a boil and then simmer for 2 – 5 minutes or until they change color. This confused me – what color are they going to change to? How will I know? Will they explode? Well, I gotcha back on this one. I took pictures:

Ooooh, magic.

Ooooh, magic.

The one on the left is before the boil and the other is after the mysterious “Color change”. I cook them for 5 minutes and call it done.

3) While the tomatillos are cooking, peel your onion and cut it in half. Take 1/2 and chop coarsely and chop the other 1/2 a normal kind of chop. Also, wash and trim the cilantro. I usually just leave the rubberband/tie thingie on the bunch and cut all of the stems below it off.

3) Remove the tomatillos and pepper from the water and place into your blender, add

1/2 C of the cooking water and push the button a few times until they are busted up.

4) Add the coarsely chopped 1/2 of the onion, 1/2 C of Cilantro, 2 t Garlic and 1 t salt to the blender and really puree the heck out of it. Make sure to take off that center bit on the lid and hold a towel over it or else it might explode.

Really, I am not kidding.

Set the blender aside for later.

5) Sautee the other 1/2 of the onion in some olive oil until it has taken on some color and then remove it from the pan. Put the ground pork into the pan and cook it most the way then return the onions to the pan.

6) Pour sauce into pan and add cumin. Then add a pinch each of chili powder and cayenne. Simmer for 10 minutes and then salt and pepper to taste.

7) At this point realize that you have no idea how you are going to serve this. It isn’t really a taco filling like you thought it was going to be, nor is it exactly a chili that you would want to eat straight out of a bowl. Decide that you need to make rice. Cover the pot with a lid and start making rice.

8 ) After the rice is made reheat the sauce/stew stuff you made. Realize that you have lost a little bit of the brightness that you had and add 1 t of Apple Cider Vinegar. That works! Decide you need more garlic so add some powder and a little more salt and a little more pepper. If you, unlike myself, had the foresight to have the rice at the ready then you could probably skip the AC Vinegar step and simply season to taste.

9) Serve in bowls over rice and garnish with additional fresh cilantro.

Mmm, Green.

Mmm, Green.

My husband and I debated what I should call this. He is from Louisiana and has some definite … opinions … about gumbo. But in the end he agreed that we could call it tasty.