Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bam! Memorial Day (Emeril's Spicy Root Beer and Bourbon Glazed Baby Back Ribs)

I’ve always found the story of Adam and Eve intriguing. Out of the dust of the earth, God fashioned a man. But to give him a proper companion, God uses a rib from Adam’s body, creating woman. The way I figure it, if a rib was important enough to be included in the story of mankind, we owe it to ourselves to enjoy a heaping pile of them every chance we can get. And hey, it’s a holiday weekend!

This is my favorite recipe for baby back ribs. The glaze is sweet and spicy, and the slow cooking method yields a fall-off-the-bone, meltingly tender quality that will leave you completely impressed with your mad cooking skills. Best served with a cold Newcastle and some homemade blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Emeril's Spicy Root Beer and Bourbon Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Monday, May 10, 2010

Toot Toot (the sound of my own horn)

I have to admit, it felt pretty damn great to walk into Barnes & Noble last week (while tracking down a good Posole recipe) and see this book on display in the cooking section:

Edible Communities recently published a coffee table book about local food across the country, and I was fortunate enough to contribute two stories to the content. Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods is a beautiful book, and contains dozens of inspiring stories of the dedicated small farmers, culinary artisans, and chefs who make it their business to feed us from the riches of our own land and waters. The book also includes a huge recipe section, not to mention the gorgeous photography characteristic of every Edible publication (there are now 65 publications across the country…and growing).

I could go on about the local food movement—about the positive impact on your local economy that results when each person dedicates even a small percentage of their monthly food dollar to local food; about the environmental impact of monocropping, GMO’s and shipping in produce from another hemisphere; about the complex and far superior flavors of an antique variety of apple grown just a few miles from your front door—but I hardly need to say all that. Edible Communities is already doing a great job in that capacity; and now you can read all about it in bookstores everywhere. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cinco de Mayo (Pozole Rojo)

Ever since I had my first taste of posole at El Barzon in Detroit last spring, I have been meaning to try a recipe from scratch at home. This version from Rick Bayless is definitely tasty; the rich pork broth is the color of wet terra cotta, made so by the mixture of toasted red ancho and guajillo chiles. Studded with shreds of pork and fluffly hominy, posole is a satisfying peasant soup. Similar to phở, another one of my favorite soups, posole is simple in and of itself, but you make it your own by adding the condiments you love the most—shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, cilantro, onion, oregano, avocado, or even fried pig's skin.

I ventured out to Avanza supermarket on South Federal Boulevard in search of the chiles, as well as pig’s head and feet, which are called for in the original recipe to lend rich flavor to the broth. When I asked the gentleman behind the meat counter if they had pig’s head, he simply replied, “Aisle 8.” Perplexed yet determined, I found the pig’s head in the frozen food aisle, but frankly the thought of letting a cabeza de Puerco thaw in my fridge for a couple days was less than appetizing. Luckily, the meat case back in the meat department had a whole pile of meaty bones designated “pork for posole,” so I settled for a large package of those to serve as the base for my soup. Bayless’ version also calls for using pig’s feet, allowing bits of cartilage and connective tissue to linger in the soup when served. While this certainly sounds authentic, it grosses out my husband (whose idea of authentic Mexican is Chipotle), so I opted to omit the trotters altogether in the interest of marital accord.

This soup takes a long time to make—not because it’s complicated, but because the stock needs to simmer away for hours in order to become properly flavored, and at least an hour or two more in order for the hominy to become tender once added to the pot. I guess this is why posole is typically served only on weekends in Mexican restaurants. This recipe is also very mild; if spice is what you crave, I suggest including the seeds when pureeing the toasted chiles (set them aside for pureeing but do not toast them; they will just burn), or adding hot sauce or chopped jalapeños to your selection of condiments. Nevertheless, I’m calling this venture a success. The recipe made enough to feed a small army, and the juxtaposition of warm soup and cool, crispy condiments is perfect to enjoy during a Colorado spring, when the sunny warm days give way to chilly evenings.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Posole Rojo
(from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen)

4 quarts canned hominy, drained and rinsed
4 pounds meaty neck bones
1 ½ pounds lean, boneless pork shoulder in a single piece
4 large garlic cloves
4 large ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and deveined
4 large guajillos chiles, stemmed, seeded and deveined
1 Tablespoon salt

8-10 radishes, sliced thinly
1 ½ cup onion (finely chopped)
1/3 cup dried oregano
2-3 limes
15-20 crispy fried tortillas or tortilla chips

1. Make the broth. Place meaty bones and pork shoulder in a very large stock pot. Cover with seven quarts of water; add garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow so simmer for 2-3 hours. By this time the meat should be completely fork tender and falling off the bones.
2. Meanwhile, tear chiles into large, flat pieces. Toast them (one or two pieces at a time) in a heavy skillet over medium heat until they crackle and blister on both sides. Remove chiles to a large bowl, cover with boiling water. Submerge and soak for 30 minutes; drain. Place in a blender with ½ cup water and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve into small bowl. Set aside.
3. Remove bones and pork from the stock; shred the meat with a fork, reserving the meat in a bowl and discarding bones, fat and cartilage.
4. Add hominy and pepper puree to the stock, bring back to a simmer and continue simmering for another hour or two, until the hominy has softened and “bloomed.”
5. To serve, place a bit of warmed, shredded pork meat into a bowl; ladle in soup. Garnish with condiments.