• 05Jan

    I’ve been a bit obsessed with Mexico City recently following a trip in November. It’s pretty fantastic (if you can handle the smog  and speak at least a bit of Spanish) – great art, great culture, amazing food, etc. – I’m going back this month. But in the meantime, back up here in the cold, I wanted to bring myself  back to a bit of a warmer state of mind, and what better excuse to use everyone’s favorite  winter warmer, the slow cooker?

    So I decided to try a spin on a DF classic – al pastor. So I polled a couple Mexican friends  (ok, exactly two) for a recipe, and combining them got a semi-coherent list of ingredients
    with vague proportions. But it sounded good, and I’m not big on precise measurements anyhow.  Also note that al pastor is generally defined by use of the guajillo chili, which I didn’t
    have handy. I used chipotle. I also had no pineapple juice, so that got mucked about a bit,  and obviously I slow-cooked instead or spit-grilling.Tasty, not authentic

    You read the title, right?

    I also added the onion because I thought it seemed right. It was.

    I used:

    Product:

    • 2lbs pork butt country ribs, separated and stabbed repeatedly
    • 1/2 yellow onion, quartered
    • 11 oz cubed fresh pineapple

    Marinade:

    • 2 tbs achiote (anatto) seed, ground
    • 2 tbs ground chipotle
    • 1 tbs garlic powder
    • 1 tbs oregano
    • 1 tbs cumin
    • 1 tbs salt
    • 1 tbs pepper
    • 1c cider vinegar
    • 3/4c water
    • 1 tbs agave nectar

    Preparation is wonderfully simple: put all the ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl, cover and marinate overnight. In the morning before leaving for work, I poured everything into my trusty slow cooker, and set it on low for 9.5 hours (its longest setting, just because it’s not like I was getting home in less than 11) . I arrived home that evening to a gorgeous aroma from the pot, now happily keeping things warm, from which I heaped lovely, fall-apart tender pork. It was truly delicious alone, but over some rice (I suspect hominy would be good too) it was really awesome.

    The cooked marinade, by the way, is a keeper: this may become a go-to barbecue sauce for me: transfer it to a saucepan and let reduce. Thicken with cornstarch or flour, and toss the pork back in, you could make tacos. I’m just sayin’.

    Buen provecho!

     – MAW

  • 05Mar

    Rice and peas and kaleIt is still bloody freezing here in Atlanta (majorly pissing off the part of me who pretty explicitly moved here on the premise that the winters are shorter and less cold), so I have been increasingly in need of warm comfort food. I am also extremely lazy and a bit cheap, so I wanted comfort food I could make all by myself with minimal cost or effort. My rice cooker, which has just re-emerged from a newly reorganized cupboard, is usually a good source of easy, cheap food, and so I thought of a dish synonymous with comfort in so many cultures: rice and beans. I grew up around a considerable Caribbean influence (despite being a bit of a whitey from Northwest DC), and so, while I do love some good traditional red beans and rice, my version of choice is a bit more tropical: what gets called “Rice and Peas.”

    The more traditional version my friends’ moms and grandmothers make is easy enough, but I say that true genius is the ability to take “easy” and make it downright slothful. In other words, I am declaring myself a genius due to my extreme laziness. I use canned peas, mostly pre-ground spices, and a rice cooker instead of dried, whole, and two pots plus a fry pan. Best of all, it works out beautifully.

    Here’s how you can make this fabulous base to any meal, and add a pretty and healthy accompaniment too:

    2 cups rice
    1 can coconut milk
    1 cup dashi or chicken stock
    1 can pigeon (Gunga) peas
    (Kale, optional)
    Allspice
    Turmeric
    Celery salt
    (Cayenne, optional if you’re that much of a wuss, but you really should use some)
    Olive oil

    Throw your rice, coconut milk, allspice, celery salt and turmeric into a rice cooker, stir, and turn it on. You have to use your own judgment about how much of the spices to use, but I use a good bit (maybe 1.5 tsp each of turmeric and allspice, and a half of celery salt). After about 10 minutes, add the peas and stir, re-covering. When the timer pops, open it up and add the stock. Press the lever down to cook again. When it finishes cooking this time, let it click back over to the “warm” cycle, and toss in your kale to steam. When the kale’s as soft as you like, you’re ready to go.

    Mind you: the version I grew up eating (prepared by an old Haitian friend of the family who is a lot like an extra grandmother in the sense of making sure we were always full of delicious and fattening foods) doesn’t use stock – and the result is rice that’s a bit, well, al dente. I add the stock to my version because I know that this texture can be challenging (or appalling) to anyone not raised on it, and plus I think the extra flavor is a nice bonus.

    Serve in a bowl, drizzled with olive oil and cayenne.

    So easy! And delicious. The recipe scales to as much as your rice cooker can hold (just do some multiplication), and keeps very well, so I often make this as a staple for the week and just add freshly steamed kale, fried eggs, steam fish or really any ‘main’ to it as I go.

    MAW

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