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.

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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