Jul 26, 2010

Carne adovada

I'm not sure why I haven't written this up yet, but it's well past due.

Carne adovada.

As far as I can tell, this is a pretty localized dish from north-central New Mexico but has migrated out a bit.  Sadie's used to be the standard.  Back when it was a little hole above a bowling alley the food was so good that it got in the way of bowlers on a good night.  Then they actually bought a full space and it was still good.  But I haven't had theirs in years and I've had to make do with my own.

The basics are simple: you're going to make pork as hot as you can with a red paste or sauce and then, pretty much invariably, add raw onions.  Huntley Dent has done his research and has broken down the basic dish into two categories: wet and dry.  Wet means a nice red sauce that can be eaten with tortillas; dry is more of a rub than a sauce and is meant mainly for the meat itself and not as a sauce.

But there are many more variations.  Is your pork (and it's always pork) sliced thin or cubed (1-2 inches isn't uncommon)?  Does the flavor come from the sauce or the meat?  Do you spice it or just let the chili speak for itself?

If I'm at a diner in, say, Espanola, I'll take cubed any time.  I don't know what they do to it to make the flavor permeate and I'd rather not speculate.  But a breakfast with carne adovada, hash browns, and tortillas is to die for if you find the right place.

But.  If you're doing it yourself, here's a basic recipe for a wet, thin-sliced dish best served with tortillas.

In a food processor, combine:
  • 1 medium onion
  • Several pinches of cumin
  • Double the cumin with oregano
  • 3 generous tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 1 package of hot to very hot chile powder, preferably Chimayo but any will do if it comes to it
  • Cayenne if you want more heat
  • Water until you have a paste
And then slice your pork.  Thin, please.  Something like 1/8th inch.

Also, onions.  Sweet is good here, so if you can get vidalias, good.  Otherwise standard yellows are fine and whites are okish if you're going for maximal effect of the hot.

Layer the pork slices, then onion, then sauce in a baking dish (pyrex is best here).  A second layer is great.

And then let that sit.  For at least 12 hours.  Preferably more.

To finish it, bake covered in foil at about 325 for half an hour then remove the foil and return to the oven for another half hour.

Shred both the pork and the onions and serve that in flour tortillas with cilantro and whatever else you'd like in the mix.  Pico de gallo is good here.  And if you did it right, have water on hand.  Lots of water.

Jul 25, 2010

Avocado/tangerine salad

Simple as can be.

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tangerines
  • A decent amount of goat cheese
  • Two handfuls of almonds
Combine that with spinach.  Dress with:
  • Sesame oil
  • White wine vinegar (rice wine vinegar would work here too)
  • Ground ginger
  • Garlic powder
And that's it.  The flavors blend extremely well what with the sweet from the tangerines and almonds, the sour goat cheese, and the various spices (plus whatever it is that avocado has).  The textures work well varying from the crunchy almonds down to the almost melty cheese and avocado.

In a large enough batch this could be a meal.

Lemon-tomato chicken

Sometimes the best food comes out of a totally spontaneous list of ingredients and a deadline.

In this case, dinner for 4.  I have:
  • 3 chicken breasts, frozen
  • Pasta (settled on linguine)
  • Garlic
  • Dried oregano
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
On sale at the store I found:
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 grenade of lemon juice (you know, the lemon juice that you find in the produce section bottled like a lemon/grenade)
  • Cheap dry red wine
Lots of stuff you can do with a combination like that.  So why not make it complicated?

Chicken prep

Thaw, obviously, then place in a bowl (whole).  Cover in lemon juice and add oregano.  Toss thoroughly and let that sit for, oh, an hour.


In the meantime, start with the tomatoes.  To keep things summery, I didn't really want to cook them but I still wanted tomato flavor in with the chicken.  And given the choice of linguine, just chunking the tomatoes wouldn't work anyway.

Solution: quarter them, set up a colander over a bowl, and crush them by hand until they're just small bits.  Then salt them to sweat the juice, toss well, and set them aside to slowly drip.  Go ahead and press them by hand occasionally.

Then rough-chop most of the bunch of parsley and set that aside for now.

Then obviously the garlic.  I used lots.  In the same spirit as the tomatoes, I want some cooked and some raw, but you can just prep it all the same way.


In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and add half the garlic.

Remove the breasts from the marinade and cube into about 1/2 inch pieces, retaining the marinade for later use.

Once the garlic is just turning golden, add the cubed chicken and cook most of the way through, stirring often.  Then add the reserved marinade and your tomato drippings and take the mixture down to a simmer.

In the meantime, make pasta.  Use slightly less water than usual and make sure you salt it liberally.

When the pasta is done, drain and add about a cup and a half of the pasta water to your chicken mixture along with a decent splash of wine.

Let the chicken mixture come to a boil and then slowly reduce it until you get a thick enough sauce to slightly cover the chicken bits (the starch from the pasta water will help this along nicely and the sugar from the tomato will nearly carmelize).

Fresh toppings

Combine your tomatoes with the parsley and the rest of the garlic.  Add a spritz of lemon juice and toss together.

Serve, letting everyone choose how much of each component they'd like and finish with grated hard cheese.

Another very nice summer dish.

Jul 20, 2010

A sandwich

This goes back a few years, but it's definitely a summer recipe.  It's sort of loosely based on a mufuletta.  And since it's a relatively cool day with no sun, I figure it might be perfect.


Odd place to start?  Sure.  But why not?  This is going to serve the role of oil and vinegar in the final product while adding something, umm, tapenady?

In a food processor, combine:
  • A 60/40 split of kalamata olives and normal black olives
  • 2 cloves of garlic (for once I'd strongly advise not going overboard here)
  • 1 small handful of italian parsley
  • A few chives, somewhat chopped
  • 2 small spoonfuls of capers, rinced
  • A small amount of oregano
Blend that, adding olive oil as needed, until you have a paste.


So when that's done, select your bread.  I'd recommend a baguette.

Halve your loaf, boule, whatever, and get some of the guts out.  You will have to make room for the other stuff.

So start adding:
  • Tapenade to both pieces
  • Feta
  • Salami
  • Spinach
  • Banana peppers, sliced
  • Roasted red pepper, sliced
  • Tomatoes, sliced, salted, and drained in a strainer
  • Whatever else strikes your fancy (though I'd recommend not taking the salt content up from here)
Recombine your two halves and wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least half an hour and up to, say, overnight.  Slice and serve.

Jul 12, 2010

Dal and chicken

Ok, so this did require some prep time.  And it wasn't optimal; I love masoor dal for something like this but it wasn't to be had.  Chana helps though.

Three parts.

First, just prep some lentils.  Boil them as usual, not adding spices.  They'll keep for days; don't worry.  Just pull them when they're done and it's all good.  This is where I'd prefer red lentils, but those can be somewhat hard to come by, so do as you can and will.  The standard green/french worked just fine.

Second, prep some chicken.  Thaw whatever you have and make it ready for marinating.  Breasts worked fine here.

In a cast iron skillet, heat some oil.  Neutral is better but olive works.

Add to the hot oil, in this order:
  • Palmfull of cumin seads
  • Half that whole coriander
  • Garlic, if desired
  • Brown mustard seeds; if not available sub in yellow
  • Whole black or white peppercorn
  • Mustard seeds; have a lid ready to cover as they pop like crazy
Drop the heat and add cayenne powder.  Turmeric wouldn't hurt here either.  Stir to combine.

Drop that all in a bit of yogurt, combine in a ziploc back with chicken, let sit overnight.

Third, add a small amount of oil to a small sauce pan.  Toast about three cloves and a cinnamon stick along with the innards of three or four cardamom pods.  Additional cumin sead wouldn't hurt here either.

When that has been toasted, add your lentils and one can of chana dal (chickpeas; whatever) drained and one can undrained.  Simmer that down after adding turmeric (to taste, but be generous) and salt (again, don't be stingy).

While that is simmering down, start grilling your chicken.  Take it to medium-well at least; the yogurt will have softened it enough that it shouldn't be tough nomatter how much you overcook it.

Spoon 3/4 of your bean mixture into a blender and puree it; add it back to the pan.

Slice the chicken on bias.  Serve with a flatbread and some greens and you have a great meal.

Jul 1, 2010

Bread salad

Look!  It's both summerish and has actual amounts!


  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup red onion
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup (or more; can you really have too much?) shredded basil (traditional Italian)
  • 6 cups dense crusty bread in 1-inch cubes
Add the bread last, preferably after a few minutes so the other flavors come together.  You can always toast fresh bread to get the right consistency, but if, say, you live in a high arid climate, your older bread will hit the sweet spot before molding anyway.

Chill, serve.  It's absolutely wonderful.