Friday, February 26, 2016

Posole to Die for!

Posole is a "national" tradition in Mexico and parts of the Southwest, eaten on special occasions such as Christmas. However, this delicious dish has deep, deep Aztec roots. Unfortunately, the facts are quite disturbing, and frankly grotesque! Before the Spanish invaded, and outlawed cannibalism, posole was enjoyed after human sacrifice. Yep! All the remaining bits were relished with lovely creamy bits of hominy, the dried corn kernels of the sacred cacahuazintle variety nixtamalized with alkali. In addition, after human flesh was outlawed for consumption, pork became the meat of choice because according to a Spanish priest, it "tasted very similar." Bacon will never be the same. (I truly hope my vegetarian kid doesn't read this!)

Anyway, back to 2016, phew! I've had this wonderful recipe for years and finally gave it a try. Although not the classic posole of dried chiles, hominy, and pork, this version combines the traditional dried chiles with the ease of Ancho chile powder, readily available canned hominy, pork, and fresh chile poblano! The result is succulent and produces a more modern version of the classic. Traditional garnishes that I think are essential include shredded green cabbage, diced avocado, sliced radishes, a squeeze of lime, hot sauce, and tostadas on the side. If you've never tasted or made posole, I strongly urge you to give this recipe a try! Bissinger's Chocolate Cinnamon Chile Cake would make the perfect ending to a meal steeped in history.

Posole Rojo

Serves 6

For the Stew:
2-3 pounds pork butt, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups canned hominy, preferably white, if possible
1 cup red bell pepper, 1-inch dice
1/2 cup poblano pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 cup Roma tomatoes, large dice
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Garnishes:
1/4 head green cabbage, thinly shredded
1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced and crisped in ice water
3 avocados, diced
6 lime wedges
hot sauce
tostadas, on the side

Season the pork with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the pork in batches on all sides. Set aside. (This should take you about 30 minutes!) Add the onion and garlic to the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Saute for 5 minutes. Return the meat to the pot. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and simmer for about 2 hours or until very tender. Skim off any surface fat.

Add the hominy, red bell pepper, poblano pepper, ancho powder, Roma tomatoes, and lime juice. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the hominy starts to absorb the flavor of the sauce and thickens slightly. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve in big bowls with garnishes. Yummy!

Recipe adapted from Canyon Cafe: Bringing the Southwest Experience Home.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Love on the Rocks?

When I was in college, getting my degree in Geology, I was required to complete a "field training" course. I signed up for a class with Texas Tech, in which you were expected to map parts of the Colorado Rockies. After arriving a day late, I found myself (backpack and rock hammer in tow) ascending the side of a steep mountain, when I first heard his voice. He offered me a hand, (Thank God!), and then I looked up to see my one true love, standing there in a tie-dye Ben&Jerry's "Cherry Garcia" t-shirt, mirrored Serengeti sunglasses, and a Redskins baseball hat! What a get-up! Six weeks later, we were engaged, and the rest is history.

So, for my handsome man, I'm making "Goat Cheese-Arugula Ravioli with Tomato-Pancetta Butter." This dish tastes so fantastic and is so beautiful! It's perfect for a romantic Valentine's dinner! In fact, it's so perfect, you just may fall in love!

Goat Cheese-Arugula Ravioli with Tomato-Pancetta Butter

Serves 4-6, (Can be made ahead!)


For the ravioli
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large shallots, minced
3 ounces arugula, chopped (about 3 1/2 cups)
6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled
1/2 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Approximately 30-40 wonton wrappers (from one 12-ounce package)
2 large egg whites, whisked just until foamy

For the tomato-pancetta butter
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
6 large plum tomatoes, quartered, seeds and membranes discarded, tomatoes diced small
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

For serving
5 tablespoons butter, melted
12 fresh basil leaves
Fresh thyme


For the ravioli
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, saute for 10 minutes. Add arugula, toss until wilted but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Transfer the arugula mixture to a large bowl and cool. Mix in the goat cheese and Parmesan cheese. Season the filling with salt and pepper.

Line 2 baking sheets with heavy-duty foil, spray with nonstick spray. (I use 1 baking sheet lined with parchment paper and no nonstick spray. When the first layer is done, I place a sheet of plastic wrap over and stack the second layer on top. That way you can store in the fridge easier.) Place 4 wonton wrappers on work surface, cover remaining wrappers with plastic to prevent drying. Lightly brush entire surface of each wrapper with egg white. Spoon 1 generous teaspoon (I put 1 tablespoon) filling into the center of each wrapper. Fold wrappers diagonally in half, forming triangles. Press edges firmly to seal, avoiding any air bubbles inside the ravioli.

Arrange ravioli on prepared sheets. Repeat with the remaining wrappers until the filling is gone. (Can be made ahead. Cover with plastic and chill up to 1 day.)

For the tomato-pancetta butter
Cook chopped pancetta in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel to drain and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet. Add butter to drippings in skillet, melt over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and thyme, saute until tomatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

To serve
Place melted butter in large bowl. Cook half of the ravioli in a large pot of salted boiling water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using a hand-held strainer, transfer ravioli to a colander to drain, then place in the bowl with the melted butter, toss gently to coat. Cover to keep warm. Cook the remaining ravioli in the same pot of boiling water. Drain as before and transfer to the buttered ravioli. Toss gently to coat. Divide the ravioli among serving bowls. Rewarm the tomato butter over medium heat, add the reserved pancetta and basil, saute 1 minute. Spoon sauce over ravioli. Garnish with thyme and serve! (Don't forget some wine!)

This is an old recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit.