Spice rubbed pork shoulder with posole

Ennui. No, it’s not a type of sausage or that tingling pain you get in your legs if you sit for too long. It’s a feeling of listlessness, lethargy and lassitude. A cloud of dissatisfaction that hangs over life. It’s marked by a tendency to gaze out the window and sigh for no reason at all.

Sure, winter doesn’t help. Winter doesn’t help anything unless you’re a hibernating bear or sell ski equipment. We’re fed up, longing for the lazy-crazy-hazy days of summer when we spent our days barbecuing meat, veg, the dog’s chew toy and our boots (the last two, just because we could).

That was life. This is like being forced to watch an Ingmar Bergman movie on repeat.

The solution? There isn’t one. There’s not a pill you can take or mantra you can chant. It just is. The good news? One day it will be gone. Poof! And suddenly you’ll make a tentative foray out of your reclining chair with the chip and dip tray and actually take the garbage out. Respect!

Rub the pork with the spice mix the day before cooking.

But in the meantime, cook large pots of comfort food to see you through your existential crisis. It won’t cure anything but it might – just might – lift your spirits a bit.

Serves 4-6

3 ½ lb boneless pork shoulder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sugar

¼ tsp Ancho chile powder

½ tsp Chipotle powder

½ tsp Chimayo blend chile powder

1-12 oz package of White corn posole

2 Chile pods such as Ancho and New Mexico red

1 large garlic clove

Garnishes: chopped avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, chopped green onions

Mix together the spices, salt, sugar and chile powders and rub on all sides of the pork shoulder. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in a container with a lid. Pop in the refrigerator and let it do its thing overnight. Next, place the posole in a non-reactive bowl, cover with water and soak overnight.

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 425ºF. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Remove the plastic wrap (if using) and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish and put in the pre-heated oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 225ºF, cover with a lid and continue to cook for another 4-5 hours or until the meat is tender and flakes away easily.

Spear the garlic with a toothpick so you can find it easily in the cooked posole.

While the pork is cooking, make the posole. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the posole, then simmer for around 2-3 hours. After an hour or so, add the 2 chile pods and the peeled garlic clove. Stick a toothpick through the garlic clove to make it easy to retrieve once cooking is done.

Shred the cooked meat, discarding most of the fat (come on – it’s the best part). Mix with the pan cooking juices and return the oven to high heat and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain the posole. Serve a generous ladleful of posole with some of the pulled pork and your choice of garnishes.

 

Lime habanero drizzle cake

Made a resolution this year? Of course you did. Let me guess…you’re going to the gym more often (that means more than once, right?). Or you’re going on a diet to lose weight. Perhaps, you’re doing ‘dry January’.

Well done. How’s it going so far? Because today is the day it’s predicted that most people will give up, concede defeat and grab a dozen donuts and chow down like there’s no tomorrow. Today’s the day you won’t go to the gym (again) and instead mix yourself a martini the size of Manhattan.

If that’s you – and perhaps it’s not. Perhaps you’re busy polishing your halo and looking smug. But if you did ditch your New Year’s resolution then cut yourself some slack. You’re in good company. Instead, put on some music. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Cancel the gym membership and bake yourself a cake.

Use lots of limes so it’s tart and juicy and makes you feel that the cake is really a carrier for much needed Vitamin C (it is cold and flu season BTW). Make a glaze with enough habanero chile to warm the cockles of your heart. And don’t worry about your resolution. Remember, there’s always next year.

1 cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. lime zest

¼ cup lime juice

¾ cup buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp. baking powder

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

 

Glaze

¼ cup lime juice

½ cup sugar

¼ tsp chile habañero powder

1 Tbsp. lime zest

Note: you’ll need about 3-4 limes in total, depending on how juicy they are.

9×5” loaf pan, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 350°F

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, lime zest and juice, then the buttermilk and eggs. Sift together the salt, baking powder, and flour and fold the dry ingredients into the wet, in three batches.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before turning the loaf out.

To make the glaze, put the lime juice, sugar, habanero powder and lime zest into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Heat for a few minutes. Use a skewer to poke holes in the loaf, almost all the way to the bottom. Brush or pour the hot syrup over the cake, allowing it to seep in.

Slice, serve and smile.

 

Three chile chutney

I can feel the collective eye rolling and lip muttering, all the way across ye old world wide web. Chutney? Really? A southwestern chutney? Have they lost their marbles?

Well, perhaps, but that’s a whole different conversation.

Before you start grumbling that we’ve gone all hoity-toity at Chile Trail HQ, let me stop you. A chutney is simply fruit and/or vegetables with spices, vinegar and sugar. That’s it. And that’s exactly what this is: three different chiles, red peppers, tomatoes, vinegar and sugar. Oh and some fresh ginger.

In this festive season, we like to think of the chiles as the three kings of this recipe. We’ve got chipotle, habanero and ancho. Chipotle comes in like a smoking powerhouse, all puffed up and pumped. Habanero slides in with citrus notes, lulls you into a false sense of security, then hits you with a hot smack on the lips. Ancho sighs and tsk’s tsk’s at the show-offs, marvelling at its own self-restraint.

This chutney is sweet and sour and jammy and hot and if you don’t like it then our friendship is over. This makes three small jars if you feel like spreading the Christmas cheer or one large one if you’d like to hang out alone, content with a loaf of bread, some goat’s cheese and your own southwestern chutney.

Chutney. There. I said it.

1 whole Ancho chile

1 whole Chipotle chile

1 whole Habanero chile

1” knob of ginger, peeled and chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 long red peppers, about 12 oz., deseeded and chopped

14oz. can of crushed tomatoes

6 oz. sherry vinegar

12 oz./1 ½ cups sugar

Put the three chiles in a small bowl and cover with hot, almost boiling water. Set aside for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and pliable. Remove the stems and seeds and roughly chop.

Place the chopped ginger, garlic, red peppers, crushed tomatoes, chile peppers and sherry vinegar in a blender. Blitz on high speed until pureed.

Pour the puree into a saucepan, add the sugar and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 40-45 minutes until reduced and jammy. Some scum may form on the surface. Don’t panic — just skim that off. Pour into sterilized glass jars and seal.

 

 

 

Chile-miso eggplant ‘steaks’ with orange-COYO drizzle

Thanksgiving used to be so easy. You’d cook like a mad thing, burn a few dishes, fall asleep during a bowl game and wake up at two in the morning with a glass of merlot clutched in your hand and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome blaring on the television. Ah, those were the good old days.

Now it’s a whole lot more complicated. You’ve got someone coming who is lactose intolerant. Somebody else who can’t eat gluten and another who is vegan. Suddenly trad turkey and trimmings just doesn’t cut it.

But fear not. Make a showstopper ‘free from’ dish – no meat, no dairy, no gluten and you’re sorted. Forget some sorry, last minute pasta with tomato sauce – that’s not “Thanks” giving it’s “I-couldn’t-be-bothered” giving. Meat eaters can tuck into turkey while your plant-based buddies smile smugly. It’s a win-win.

And when it’s all over, you can take your glass of wine, find a comfy spot on the sofa, and have a well deserved snooze. Just don’t forget to wake up before the credits roll.

Serves 2-3

2 medium eggplants, about 1.5 lbs total

Olive oil – about ¼ cup

2 Tbsp. yellow miso

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. mirin

½ tsp chile molido powder (mild)

1-5.3oz tub of COYO coconut yogurt alternative natural flavor

1 Orange

Handful of cilantro, about 5 oz., chopped

Chile pequin flakes

Preheat oven to 425ºF

Slice the eggplants lengthwise into ½-¾” slices. Place on a non-stick baking pan (you may need to use two pans). Lightly score each side of the slices with a knife in a diamond pattern. Brush liberally with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for around 15 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through.

While the eggplant is cooking, whisk together the miso, rice wine vinegar, mirin and chile molido powder. When the eggplant is golden brown, brush on the miso glaze and cook for another 5 minutes. Then flip the slices over and baste the miso glaze on the other side. Cook for another five minutes – the eggplant should be browned and thoroughly cooked through.

Remove from the oven. Whisk together the COYO with 2 teaspoons of orange zest and 2-3 tablespoons of orange juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable.
Place the eggplant slices on a platter, drizzle with the orange-COYO sauce, scatter the cilantro on top and finish with a sprinkle of chile pequin flakes.

Chile & Pistachio Caramel Corn

Do you want the good news first or the bad news? Right you are, let’s kick off with the good. The good news is that popcorn is a high fiber snack that will fill you up and put a smile on the face (unless you’re a total curmudgeon with no friends and a black cloud over your head).

The bad news, is that medical science has yet to find any nutritional benefit to coating the above mentioned popcorn with butter and sugar. And trust me, they’ve tried. How many randomized medical trials have failed to find a link between caramel corn and a long and healthy lifespan? (We don’t actually know the answer to this but do let us know, if you do)

But living to 100, isn’t all it’s cracked up, is it? So relax, kick back and make a batch of caramel corn. It will take you back to the state fair you went to as a kid and give you a big ole rush of nostalgia. You’ll end up looking for that stuffed animal you won as a kid, then remember that your dog ate it. Guess that goes under the bad news category too but not a lot we can do about that.

1 Package Red Chile Popped Popcorn

¾ cup brown sugar

3 Tbsp corn syrup

6 Tbsp butter

Scant ¼ tsp baking soda

½ cup chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 250°F

Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Place the popcorn on the tray.

In a saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Simmer for five minutes – don’t stir it, just let it do its thing. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. It will puff up and look impressive. Pour oven the popcorn, stir quickly to coat and then sprinkle the pistachios on top and stir again. Place in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes – stirring occasionally to ensure the kernels are evenly coated.

Spray a sheet of aluminium foil with some vegetable spray. Turn the popped corn onto the foil and allow to cool – breaking up any chunks. Store in a container, if you haven’t eaten the entire trayful of caramel corn first.

BBQ Spicy Shrimp

I’ve heard that there are finer things in this world than a BBQ but honestly, I’ve never come across them. Peace on earth? Yeah, maybe that might be better. A birthday where no one – I mean no one – gives you a pair of ‘novelty’ socks. Okay, that’s a contender too, but other than that, I’m stumped.

Why is a BBQ so great? Well, it involves fire + outdoors + adult beverages and – here’s the important bit – the risk that you could burn the living daylights out of dinner. I mean, think about it, everyone could start fighting over that rogue tortilla chip under the couch because you incinerated supper. Or – and this is probably worse – you undercook the food and give al dente a whole new meaning.

It’s kind of like Russian roulette but with friends and food. What’s not to like?

And it’s got drama and lots of smoke and the opportunity to really tick off your neighbors. I love it. And admit it, you do too. So mix up a batch of these spicy shrimp and enjoy the drama that is a barbecue. Don’t like shrimp? Use this marinade on chicken or a piece of salmon. It doesn’t really matter because let’s face it – you’re probably going to burn it anyway.

Kidding. Just kidding.

Serves 2 starving people, 3 normal humans, or 4 who are saving space for dessert

1 lb shelled and deveined large shrimp

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 clove garlic, minced

juice from 1 lime, about 2-2 ½ Tbsp

½ tsp Chile de Arbol powder (Cayenne)

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 Tbsp olive oil + additional to brush the limes

½ tsp sea salt + additional for the limes

1 lime, cut into slices

Mix the tomato paste, garlic, lime juice, cayenne and turmeric powders, olive oil and sea salt. It should form a thick paste. Place the shrimp in a bowl and coat with the paste. Pop in the fridge and let them hang out for half an hour or so.

Get your grill heated up to medium-high. Brush the lime slices on both sides with the olive oil and give them a sprinkle of salt. Place the shrimp on the grill and the lime too. You can use skewers but I think a good pair of tongs is your best friend. Grill until nicely seared on one side then flip and repeat. Shrimp cook fast – they only need a few minutes – so stay focused.

Macerated Berries with Habanero Chile & Lime

It’s summertime and as the lyrics go, the living is easy. I have no idea if your daddy is rich or if your mother is remotely good looking. And far be it from me to pry into your family photo album.

But I will say that it is summer and you must take it easy. Put the phone down, walk away from your computer, and stop watching all of those cute dog videos. Instead, sit outside. Take a deep breath. Watch a sunset. Write words like these that belong on a cheesy greeting card.

And eat. Eat like it’s summer and everything is ripe at the same time. Because, news flash, it is. It’s crazy time where you’re spoiled for choice. Berries, whether it’s straw, black, rasp or – you get the idea – are pretty darn tooting perfect right now. So indulge. Add some habanero chile with its fruity notes (I’ve been dying to say that) and serve with some COYO coconut yogurt alternative and you are golden. Just like your tan. Don’t you love summer?

Note: macerating is a fancy pants way of saying to mix fruit with some liquid to let juices form. So there.

Serves 3-4

1 lb mixed berries – strawberries with either blackberries and/or raspberries

1 Tbsp sugar

1 lime, zest and juice

¼ tsp habanero chile powder

Serve with COYO coconut yogurt alternative natural

Hull the strawberries to remove the stem. Rather than slicing the top off, which wastes a lot of berry, take a small knife and make a circular incision around the stem. This helps to remove both the stem and the white pith inside the berry without losing any berry loveliness.

Put the strawberries with any other berries you’re using, along with the sugar, lime juice and zest and the chile powder in a bowl. The habanero packs a punch, so if you’re nervous, start with 1/8 teaspoon and work up to find your chile comfort zone. Give the fruit a gentle stir and set aside to macerate for 15-30 minutes.

Serve with a healthy dollop of COYO and a spoonful of the juices. Sit back and enjoy.