Chile Colorado

Carne con Chile Colorado

Carne con Chile Colorado

*Photo Updated January 2012*

Inspiration: Brandon and I don’t really need many reasons to make a nice Mexican supper. When it comes to Mexican food, I think we could happily eat it every day. Especially Rick Bayless’ Mexican food.

What we Loved: The sauce in this dish has a really unique and smoky flavor, almost like a rich mole sauce. I was surprised with the complexity, given that the ingredient list isn’t very long, but I think that the particular peppers that are used really just have layers and layers of flavor. After we toasted the peppers to make the sauce, the rich aromas in the kitchen were amazing, and they carried through right into the meal. Brandon and I both thought that the cilantro garnish really added a fresh and crisp citrusy flavor to the dish that was really the finishing touch.

Helpful Hints: Having a wonderful husband to prepare this dish while you work on making some soup for lunches is helpful indeed.

Also…I searched for New Mexico chiles for a while and finally stumbled upon them at a local market, but I’d say to definitely hunt for them if you’re going to make this dish. I tried to make it with different red peppers (ancho?), and while that dish was very good, it wasn’t anything similar to this dish. The sauce was savory and spicy, almost like that of a pork stew, while the sauce using the New Mexico chiles really turned out quite similar to a rich mole.

Carne con Chile Colorado
Source: Rick Bayless

2 lbs pork shoulder, cubed
8 dried New Mexico chiles
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, as needed
Water, as needed
Cilantro, to garnish

1. Remove the stems, veins, and seeds from the chiles. Break the chiles into large pieces.

2. Heat a nonstick saute pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the chiles and cook until they just start to turn color, pressing down occasionally with a spatula. Flip the chiles, and repeat on the second side.

3. Remove the chiles into a shallow bowl. Cover with water, and top with a small plate to weigh down the chiles. Let the chiles soak for 30 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water, reserving one cup of the water.

4. Put the chiles in a food processor with the onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, and the cup of chile water. Puree until smooth.

5. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Season the pork cubes with salt and pepper. Add the pork cubes in batches to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes to form a brown crust. Flip, and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Remove the cooked meat from the pan and add the next batch. Make sure to work in batches so that the pan is not overcrowded, which will prevent the meat from forming a nice crust.

6. Add all of the meat back into the pan. Add the red chili sauce, using it to deglaze the pan while scraping the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan with a spoon.

7. Add about 2 cups of water to the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 1 hour. If the sauce is too thin at this point, remove the lid and increase the heat. Cook uncovered until the sauce is the desired consistency.

8. Add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Serve garnished with cilantro.

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Pork, Chorizo, and Mushroom Stew

Inspiration: B bought me the most fabulous slow cooker for Christmas. My last slow cooker, which I really loved, was a really nice (or so I thought!) Kitchenaid slow cooker whose ceramic pot cracked all the way down the middle one day while I was cooking a nice pot roast. And after only 10-15 uses! Needless to say, I was really upset with the fact that it broke and with Kitchenaid’s customer service, and I had to resort to using my old, pretty terrible crockpot for at least a year because I didn’t want to spend the money to replace my nice one. So this past Christmas, B hooked me up with a fabulous All-Clad cooker that has an aluminum insert that’s also safe to use on the stovetop and in the oven, which means crock pot cooking all in one pot, with no worry of a cracking ceramic insert! I didn’t even know such a thing existed, and I’m still unnaturally excited about it :) B showed me this recipe on the Williams Sonoma site that made use of the all-in-one pot functionality, so we spent a nice Sunday afternoon changing the recipe to suit our tastes and creating a lovely, Sunday night stew.

What we Loved: What didn’t we love about this stew? It was incredible. It made our home smell so delicious and hearty all day long as it cooked, and the end result was an intensely flavorful stew with fall-apart pork pieces, ridiculously tender chorizo pieces, and a rich and earthy sauce. The sauce was particularly enjoyable because it contained all of the flavor from the vegetables and garlic, as well as all of the juices and fats from the three different types of meats that cooked in it. And I just loved the rich red color! We put the whole cloves from a entire head of garlic in the stew, and they ended up with a softened, roasted garlic flavor that I really enjoyed. A clove on my spoon with a bit of the sauce was a little piece of heaven! I was also very surprised by the chorizo, which was more tender than I ever thought it could be. All-in-all, this was a very meaty, filling, and wonderful stew that was so perfect for a cold Sunday evening.

Helpful Hints: As B was cooking the bacon, which is the first step of the process and which renders the fat in which to cook the pork and vegetables, we realized that our bacon wasn’t very fatty (as far as bacon goes, anyway) and wasn’t rendering enough fat. So, we added some of the discarded pork fat to the pot with the bacon, and this browned up wonderfully and added plenty of extra fat and flavor to the pot.

Pork, Chorizo, and Mushroom Stew
Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma

We used the cassoulet recipe as a base and changed it to suit our preferences and make a stew. Here’s what we did.

4 oz bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips
2-3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (I used a picnic roast), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 medium yellow onions, chopped
24 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 28 oz can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cups chicken broth
24 oz Spanish chorizo links, sliced
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

1. Add the bacon pieces to a saute pan or dutch oven (I used the stovetop-safe insert of my crockpot). Heat over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned, approximately 7-8 minutes. Remove the bacon  from the pot and set aside.

2. Add half of the pork to the pot and brown it on all sides, approximately 7-8 minutes total. Transfer the cooked pork to a platter, and repeat with the remaining pork.

3. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot. Cook until all of the water releases from the mushrooms and evaporates, approximately 15-20 minutes.

4. When the mushrooms have started to brown, add the wine, and simmer until reduced by half. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, and broth.

5. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the pork, chorizo, garlic cloves, and reserved bacon.

6. If you aren’t using a stovetop-safe crockpot insert, transfer the contents of the pot to your crockpot insert. Cook on low for 9-10 hours, until the pork pulls apart with a fork.

Bacon Avocado Pizza

Bacon Avocado Pizza

Inspiration: There really just aren’t a lot of things better than homemade pizza on a Friday night. When B and I were on our honeymoon a few years back, we ate at an Italian restaurant in San Francisco and ordered their “California” pizza, which had avocados and cilantro as a couple of the toppings. It was the first time that we’d ever had those flavors on a pizza, and we really loved it. With a spare avocado to be used, I decided to make my own avocado pizza.

What we Loved:  I think that this is the best pizza that I’ve ever made (aside from our margherita pizza, which is our all-time favorite). This was a good pizza. It’s heavy with toppings (literally heavy), and the toppings all taste really great together. I used Vidalia onion slices, bacon, chopped cilantro, and sliced avocado, and along with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese, the flavor combination was just amazing. I really can’t rave enough about how good I thought this tasted. I particularly loved the salt from the bacon and the creamy richness from the avocado, which, by the way, I used plenty of.

Helpful Hints: There’s nothing too difficult about making this pizza. Just prepare and enjoy.

Bacon Avocado Pizza

Bacon Avocado Pizza
Source: Original Recipe

1/2 recipe pizza dough (recipe follows)
1/2 recipe pizza sauce (I used this recipe)
1 small Vidadlia onion, cut into slices
8 slices bacon, cut into strips and sauteed until browned
1/2-2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large avocado, sliced

1. Grease a pizza pan. Spread out the pizza dough on the pan, using flour if necessary to help spread the dough. Top the dough with the pizza sauce, the cheese, the onion slices, and the bacon.

2. Cook the pizza in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the bottom of the pizza crust is browned and the cheese is browned.

3. Top the pizza with the cilantro and the avocado. Slice and serve.

Pizza Dough
Source: Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
*Makes enough for three thin pizza crusts.

1 3/4 cups water, divided (1/2 cup of the water should be warm, the rest should remain at tap temperature)
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (1 envelope)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
Non-stick cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil for brushing bowl

1. Measure 1/4 cup of warm water into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the envelope of yeast, and let stand until the yeast dissolves, approximately 10 minutes.

2. Add the remaining 1/4 cup warm water to the bowl, plus the remaining 1 1/4 cups of tap water and the 2 T of olive oil. Meanwhile, mix the flour and the salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the liquid ingredients (holding back a tablespoon or two) to the flour mixture and combine. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to mix. Process until the dough is smooth.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a large oiled bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

4. Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and use a chef’s knife to cut the dough into three equal portions.

Pork Stew with Smoky Tomato Sauce, Potatoes, and Avocado

Pork Stew with Smoky Tomato Sauce, Potatoes, and Avocado

Inspiration: With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I wanted to make a nice, authentic Mexican meal over the weekend when I had some time to put into it. One of my favorite cookbooks is Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless, a book that my parents bought me for Christmas one year. Everything that I’ve tried from that cookbook has been fantastic, so I knew that I wanted to use it to find a new recipe for my Cinco de Mayo meal. The recipes in the book all tend to be very involved, though, which I why I chose to make my meal over the weekend. I’ll be making something simpler on Tuesday.

What we Loved: Everything about this meal was fantastic. It was absolutely wonderful, and one of the best meals that I’ve made all year. The stew (called tinga poblana) consists of pork, chorizo, tomatoes, potatoes, and a lot of spices, and the layers of flavor are just amazing. At the end of cooking, the recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to be added to the stew, and they provide a fabulously rich, smoky, and spicy flavor to the sauce. I love the salty, greasy flavor of chorizo, so I loved its inclusion in this dish, and I also really appreciated the flavor of the avocado and the pepperjack cheese. The avocado added a nice, cooling contrast to the spicy dish, and the pepperjack cheese melted nicely down into the stew. This dish made my house smell wonderfully smoky and delicious, and it exceeded my expectations completely, even though I went into the recipe thinking it would be great.

Helpful Hints: This dish is time consuming, so make sure that you have plenty of time to prepare everything. Bayless suggests serving the stew with crusty bread, but I used some flour tortillas. We dipped them into the sauce and also broke them into pieces, filling them with some of the stew and wrapping them up like mini soft tacos. I loved eating the stew this way, but I’m serving the leftovers tonight with bread as Bayless suggested. The recipe also doesn’t call for cilantro, but I used a little as garnish and loved the flavor that it added, so I think it would taste great to use it liberally when serving, too.

Pork Stew with Smoky Tomato Sauce, Potatoes, and Avocado (Tinga Poblana)

Source: Rick Bayless, Authentic Mexican

1 lb lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (marjoram and thyme)
3 bay leaves
2 medium red-skinned boiling potatoes, quartered
3 large tomatoes
4 oz chorizo sausage, removed from casing
Extra virgin olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
4 teaspoons of adobo sauce from the can
Salt and pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
8 slices jalapeno jack cheese (or Queso Fresco, as the original recipe calls for)
Cilantro, to garnish (or onion slices to garnish, as the original recipe calls for)

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the pork. Add the herbs and the bay leaves, and stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Remove the meat from the pot, and cut it into 3/4 inch pieces. Reserve one cup of the cooking water.

2. While the meat is cooking, boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender, approimately 12 minutes. Remove the potatoes, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces when they are cool enough to handle.

3. Place the tomatoes under the broiler for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through, until the skins are charred and peeling away from the tomato. When the tomatoes have cooled, remove the skins, and chop the tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces.

4. Heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a dutch oven. Crumble the chorizo into the pot, and saute until browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the chorizo from the pot with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

5. Add the onions and the pork to the pot, and cook until very well-browned, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

6. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, and chorizo to the pot. Mix well, and simmer for five minutes. Stir in the potatoes, the reserved cup of broth, the chopotle peppers, and the adobo sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer gently for approximately 10 minutes.

7. Scoop the stew into a bowl, and decorate with alternating slices of avocado and cheese. Top with a bit of cilantro and serve.