Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew


Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew

Think comfort food and you think winter. I think comfort food and I think, “Congratulations on making it through another day.” I pull the car into the garage, kiss the driveway (unless it’s summer when it’s so hot my lips would stick to the asphalt) and thank heaven I’m home. I can barely get in the door fast enough, close the curtains and breath a heavy sigh of relief.

Because, let’s face it, between work stress, traffic stress, and emails that ping into your inbox faster than you can delete them, we’re frazzled. We tired, pooped, caput, finito, my friend. What we need is a bit of comfort…that and a winning lottery ticket.

So I like to have a pot of pork, black eyed peas and sweet potato stew ready to heat up. It tastes great the first day and ridiculously good the next. Any leftovers you can pop in the freezer for a rainy day. Of course, I’ve never had leftovers but it’s a thought. And as with all things in life, a dash/jot/avalanche of chile makes it all so much better.

It won’t do your taxes. It won’t deal with that obnoxious know-it-all at work. And no, it won’t walk the dog. But it will handle just about everything else. Honest.

Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew.

Make this in a slow cooker or a real low oven, around 250°.

Serves 4

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. oil

1 lb. diced pork

2 Tbsp. Carne Adovada mix (or more to taste)

½ cups stock or water

1 can black eyed peas or other bean

2 small sweet potatoes (about 10oz total weight), peeled and diced

To garnish:

Lime wedges

Avocado slices

Cilantro

Heat a heavy oven proof casserole dish on the stove over medium heat. Sauté the onion in the oil until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Remove the onion and garlic to a bowl. Sauté the pork in batches, browning on each side. Add more oil if needed.

Return the onions & garlic back to the pan and add the Carne Adovada. Stir to coat. Add the stock or water until the pork is almost covered. Place in the oven (or you can use a slow cooker) and cook until the meat is tender – 2-3 hours. When the meat is almost done, add the black eyed peas and sweet potatoes and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more Carne Adovada  if desired. Serve with lime wedges, cilantro and slices of avocado.

Chile Almond Brittle

Sweet is good. Sweet & salty is better. Sweet, salty & spicy is a taste of heaven.

Everyone thinks that spicy is for savory not for sweet treats but man-oh-man are they wrong. A hit of chile is just the ticket for a dessert that makes you beg for seconds.

And whipping up something that hits the sweet, salty and spicy buttons in one go is easy-peasy. This chile almond brittle is a case in point. Melt some sugar to make a caramel and then jazz it up with some chile, almonds and a generous pinch of sea salt. Super simple but also super delicious.

Now that you’ve got your brittle, what to do with it? Well eat it while no one is watching, for one. Then when you’ve been caught red handed, mumble an excuse about needing to ‘test’ it for seasoning and pretend you hear their cell phone ringing.

This little ditty would be great on top of ice cream or chocolate mousse or – and here’s how we like at Chile HQ – on top of some COYO coconut milk yogurt. It’s creamy and rich and good for you too. And you know what health nuts we are at The Chile Trail. OK, maybe you didn’t, but body is a temple and all that jazz. We also used organic chile for the brittle – our own chile flakes. It’s big, it’s bold and man is it sweet.

Chile Almond Brittle

Folks have different ways of making a caramel and this is mine but if you prefer starting with a mixture of water and sugar, go for it. The important thing is to make sure it turns a deep, rich color – that’s when it’s got loads of toasted flavour. For added umph, toast the almonds before adding to the caramel.

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup sliced almonds

½ tsp organic chile flakes

Generous pinch sea salt

Place the sugar in a small saucepan. Melt it over medium heat and cook until it becomes a rich nutty brown caramel. Remove and stir in the almonds, chile flakes and salt. Quickly pour onto a silicone baking mat and spread out. Let cool then break into shards.

Serve with COYO coconut milk yoghurt and enjoy.

Roasted leeks with smoky romesco sauce

But is it authentic? How many times have you heard this toe-curling, gut-wrenching, nail-scratching-down-a-chalkboard question? You know what I mean…you’re at a restaurant, perusing the menu, wondering if eating two desserts is really such a bad thing when someone at the neighboring table or – heaven forbid – at your own, asks the dreaded question: Is it authentic?

Is it the way they really cook it in Paris, Morocco, New Orleans, Rome, Mexico City, ‘insert world city here’. It’s typically said with a smug, worldly-wise sneer, leaving the poor waiter longing for the customer who orders their Wagyu beef well done with ketchup on the side.

The whole authenticity thing wasn’t so bad in the beginning. We’d frankly had our fair share of ‘fusion’ cooking that was so confused it was an identity crisis on a dinner plate. We were tired of chefs throwing everything at the menu, leaving us confused, grumpy and often hungry at the end of the meal.

So we went the other way – we looked for dishes that were stripped down and purer and harkened back to their culinary roots. Not a bad thing but somewhere along the line we forgot that the world is one big culinary melting pot today. Neither people nor foods are only one thing – we’re an amalgam of places and tastes and flavors that come together into something special.

So when we whip up a batch of romesco sauce – that quintessentially Catalan dish from Spain we give it our own Chile Trail spin. Instead of pimenton, we use chipotle chile. Is it authentic? It is for us. And more importantly, it’s mighty tasty. And isn’t that what it’s all about at the end of the day?

Roasted leeks with smoky romesco sauce

Serves 2-3

¾ lb leeks, untrimmed weight

Olive oil

Salt

Romesco sauce

6oz roasted red peppers

1 slice of sour dough bread, about 1oz

1 garlic clove, peeled

¼ tsp Los Chileros Chipotle chile powder

¼ tsp Los Chileros Cayenne powder

1oz almonds

2oz olive oil

1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425º

Trim the top green section from the leeks and the roots at the stem end. Slice them in half lengthwise and place them in a roasting tin. Drizzle generously with olive oil and salt. Place them in the oven and roast until nicely browned. Turn and continue cooking until softened and browned all over.

To make the romesco sauce, toast the almonds in a frying pan over medium heat for a minute or too until they release a nutty aroma. Remove the almonds and drizzle some of the oil in the pan. Add the garlic clove and the slice of bread. Sauté for a minute or two until the bread is nicely toasted on both sides and the garlic clove is golden.

Tear the bread into pieces and place the bread, garlic, nuts, roasted red peppers and chile powders in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse, drizzling in the oil until you have a smooth sauce.

Place the leeks on a serving plate and dress generously with the romesco sauce. Serve the rest of the romesco sauce on the side.

Cider vinegar & maple syrup glazed pork

cider-pork-plate-and-serving-dishWhen did we get so sniffy about leftovers? Gone are the days of the big roasts, the huge casserole dishes of cheesy, melted, layered things. Instead we cook a single chicken breast or one steak with a baked potato and just enough salad so there’s nothing left once we put the fork down. If the CSI team popped round and snooped in our fridge (this is purely hypothetical, granted) they’d be hard pressed to know we even eat.

I get the waste bit – we don’t want to store food in plastic containers only to unearth it weeks/months/you-get-the-idea later to discover we’ve created a new form of penicillin. No one wants to throw away food but on the other hand, aren’t we missing out on the joy of food? Food is messy. Food is communal. Food isn’t shovelling something into our mouths while we check our twitter feed. And leftovers are the delicious evidence of a meal enjoyed, a meal savored. Heck, a lot of food is better the next day (or the day after).

cider-pork-ingredient-shotIt’s like this pork shoulder…It’s glazed with a reduction of cider vinegar, maple syrup, some spices and chile. Yep, chile, the lifeblood, mother’s milk and all-round most awesome thing on this earth. Then you cook it for a long time (this is when you can check Facebook) and then – and then what? Then you call round every friend you can think of and you eat. And you eat. And you eat some more. When you can’t eat anymore you hug your friends goodnight, stow any leftovers in the fridge and go to bed, smug that you’ve got breakfast, lunch and dinner(s) sorted.

If you get sick of it before you finish it (this can happen) then pop the l.o.’s into the freezer. You’ll feel even more smug when you remember that you’ve got the fixings for a sandwich right there, just waiting for you.

So kiss the chicken breast goodbye (figuratively, my friend) and go big. You’ll thank me. Hopefully you’ll do better than that – you’ll invite me over. I’ll even bring my own plastic container for leftovers.

cider-pork-plate-shotCider vinegar & maple syrup glazed pork

Feeds a small army

For the glaze:

½ tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 dried Chile mulato

1 dried Chipotle chile

1 bay leaf

½ stick cinnamon

1 cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup maple syrup

1 Tbsp honey

For the pork:

Pork shoulder, about 5lbs

Olive oil

Salt

Chile pequin

Preheat oven to 425°

Place the pork into a large casserole dish that has an oven proof cover. Rub some olive oil and salt onto the pork. Put in the hot oven and cook for 15 minutes.

While it’s cooking, make the glaze. Place all the dry ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat for a few minutes until they’re nicely toasted. Then add the vinegar, maple syrup and honey. Cook for another 5 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Strain.

Baste the pork with the glaze and cook for another 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 240° and cover. Cook for 4 hours or more – until the meat is tender and flakes off easily. (You could also do this in a slow cooker.) Remove from the oven and take the pork out of the pan and place it on a plate. Put the pan with the cooking juices back in the oven and turn the temperature to high to reduce the cooking liquid. While the juices are reducing, flake the meat and then return to the pan and stir to coat. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until nicely glazed then serve, with chile pequin on the side.

Spicy baked sweet potato wedges with lime

finaldishcentredGoodbye January. I’m sorry you ever darkened our doors. Am I being a bit harsh? Perhaps, and to be honest it’s not January the month that bugs me – it’s all the endless drivel about New Year’s resolutions, ‘clean’ eating, and colonic irrigation that’s got me down. And don’t get me started about dry January…

If you must go monastic in your eating and drinking, then why not do it in July when you can sip your wheatgrass/goji berry/kale smoothie quietly outdoors in a wooded glen away from the rest of us? Meanwhile we’ll be grilling burgers and eating slightly dodgy coleslaw that should have been kept in the refrigerator just a bit longer and enjoying ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-healthy eating, I’m just tired of it being the subject of every cookbook and dinner party. To be honest, I’m more of an all-things-in-immoderation-carpe-diem kind of guy. But if you’re one of those souls who is emerging from detox January, then may I help ease you back into the human race with my Spicy baked sweet potato wedges.

sweetpotatoingredientsYes, baked not fried folks. A hefty one pound sweet potato is tossed in a mere one tablespoon of oil then baked (not fried, did I mention that?) in the oven until oh-so tender. The secret – as in many things in life – is the spice. In this case, Los Chileros Abiquiu Steak Marinade.

sweetpotatoesinpanYes, I hear you voices of descent – steak marinade on sweet potatoes? What will they think of next? But here’s the deal: we call it steak marinade but it’s mighty fine on a whole host of things. The only thing it didn’t work with was when we mixed in a fruit salad but we’re confident that with a few tweaks we’ll have that recipe for you too. In the meantime, try these bad boys. I have a tray in the oven now and the aroma is maddening.

So bring on February – cheers!

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Wedges with Lime

Serves 3-4

1 lb. sweet potatoes

½- ¾ Tbsp Abiquiu Steak Marinade

1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil

1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 325°F

Peel the sweet potato and slice into thick wedges. One large sweet potato should yield about sixteen fat wedges. Place the wedges on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Coat with the oil and then rub the spice mixture onto all sides of the wedges, ensuring they’re evenly coated.

Place the pan in the oven. Turn the wedges every fifteen minutes or so until they’re cooked through (a knife or skewer should insert easily). It should take about 45 minutes. Remove, place on a serving platter and serve with the lime wedges.

sweetpotatoesfinaldishoffcentre

Caviar and blinis with a chile lime crème fraiche

Caviar serving shotThey’re gone. Close the door, draw the curtains and unplug the phone. Find a comfortable chair/couch/bed and collapse. You did it: you survived the holidays. Let’s admit it – it wasn’t always easy. Tensions flared. Family annoyed. Perhaps the odd bit of food burned (clever how you scraped that off and tossed it to the dog). But you did it. You’re still standing although a shadow of your former self.

Of course New Year’s looms ahead but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.  New Year’s is all about possibilities and choices. Want to party like it’s 1999? Then by all means do so. Want to be a hermit? Feel free to wrap yourself in a goose down duvet and binge watch Nick and Nora Thin Man films.

Dress up to the nines or down to your favorite onesie. Okay, on second thought skip the onesie. It’s never a good sartorial choice unless you’re a baby sleeping in a bassinet.

But whatever you do, you’ll need sustenance. Here is where we can help at Chile Trail HQ. Forget the excesses of the Christmas season. Forget stuffing and potatoes and cranberries. Forget the pies and cakes and by all means forget that horrid mulled wine that the neighbors plied you with.

Caviar ingredientsNew Year’s is about fresh beginnings and bright new starts. It’s about things that wake up your taste buds and get you ready for the new year. Our recommendation? Blinis served with a dollop of chile crème with an even bigger dollop of caviar or salmon. If you can splurge for the good stuff then by all means do but to be honest, the jars of salmon roe you find at the grocery store will do nicely.

And might we suggest a sneaky glass of champagne or desert-dry martini to accompany? So cheers, here’s to you m’dear. May your 2017 be nice and spicy.

limeprepBlinis with caviar and chile crème

We make these with salmon roe but you could substitute smoked salmon instead or a combination of the two.

12 blinis

3 1/2 oz salmon roe caviar

1/2 cup crème fraiche

1/2 tsp New Mexico Green Chile Powder 

Chile pequin flakes to garnish

Zest and juice from half a lime

Place the blinis on a pan and warm is a low oven for a few minutes. While they’re heating up, place the crème fraiche in a bowl and add the New Mexico green chile powder, lime juice and zest.

Remove the blinis from the oven and place on a serving plate. Top with a dollop of crème fraiche and a spoonful of caviar. Garnish with a few chile flakes.

Caviar serving shot

 

Slow cooked lamb with chipotle, lime & honey

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Plated lamb

Turkey is a lot like house guests. The first day, you’re thrilled to see them and can’t believe it’s been so long since their last visit. Day two, you’re cordial. Day three, you offer to help them pack and call a taxi.

Don’t get me wrong – turkey at Thanksgiving is a treat, a tradition and literally the gift that keeps on giving. But that’s where the problem lies; at some point you get tired of leftovers. You’ve made turkey pie, tetrazzini, tacos and of course endless sandwiches. Eventually, you’re ready to see the back of turkey and can barely muster the energy to dump the carcass in a pot to make stock.

It’s exacerbated by the fact that many of us are going to whip up another bird in less than a month’s time. You do a frantic google search for ‘turkey leftover recipes’ and sigh deeply.

So what’s the answer? It’s time for something new. Pop the rest of the bird in the freezer and change culinary directions. At Los Chileros HQ, we fancy a slow cooked lamb shoulder with a spiky, zesty lime, honey, chipotle marinade. It’s the perfect way to wake up dulled taste buds and ideal for winter weather.

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You marinade the lamb overnight then cook it at high heat for about 20 minutes before turning the temperature right down and letting it go nice and slow until the meat falls off the bone. It’s even better if you eat it the next day when the flavors have really had a change to mingle and marry.

Eat it on its own, wrapped up in tortillas or on a bun – the choice is yours. It’s heaven with a bit of slaw and some dill pickles. It will make loads but invite some turkey-fatigued friends over or stash some in the freezer to have on hand at Christmas when you’re wishing the leftover turkey would scram. Go ahead and make it, you’ll thank me in a few week’s time.

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Slow cooked lamb shoulder with chipotle, lime & honey

If you can’t find lamb shoulder or don’t like it (heaven forbid), then you can opt for pork or beef – just go for a cut that likes it low and slow. The good news? These are usually cheaper too so you’ll get more taste and keep a bit of cash in your pocket, handy when you’ve got all those Christmas credit card bills to pay. But let’s not dwell on that thought…

Serves 8+

1 lamb shoulder, bone-in about 7lbs

2 Tbsp Los Chileros Chipotle rub & mix

Juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp honey

Salt

Place the lamb in a roasting pan. Mix the marinade ingredients together and rub over the lamb. Refrigerate overnight if possible. The next day, remove the pan from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400°F Generously sprinkle some sea salt on the lamb. Place the lamb in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 225°F. Take the lamb out of the oven, cover the roasting pan with a lid or with aluminium foil – you want to make sure you’re keeping the moisture locked inside. Return to the oven and cook at the low temperature for 3-4 hours then check the lamb – it should be falling off the bone – if not cook longer.

When the lamb is done, take it out of the pan and place on a cutting board and cover with aluminium foil. Strain the cooking juices from the pan into a measuring cup or container and place it in the fridge. This will encourage the fat to rise to the top and solidify. Remove the fat and discard then return the juices to the pan. Shred the meat and put it in the pan with the juices. Give a toss to make sure all the meat is coated. Return to the oven to warm before serving with flat bread, rolls, over couscous or rice.