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.

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

 

Ham it up

Is there too much of a good thing? Before you answer ‘yes’, let me introduce you to the ham I made on New Year’s Day. It went down a treat the first day – studded with cloves and brown sugar, it was a dream way to start the New Year. Subsequent days brought a succession of ham leftovers to the table. At first everyone put on a brave face but by day 3 there was dissent within the ranks – threats of a kitchen coup d’etat and lots of eye rolling and mutterings.

CU

And the darnedest thing? I swear that puppy regenerated every night. I’d wrap the ham up, pop it up in the fridge and the next day I’d pull it out and it looked as big as when it first came out the oven. No matter how much we ate, there was always more. It started to feel like an Edgar Allan Poe story (The Tell Tale Ham?) or an episode from X-Files.

Finally, it was time to take drastic action. Knife in hand, I sliced and diced and made a massive pot of Chile Spiked Split Pea & Ham (natch) Soup. I made it with ham broth from when I first cooked Mr. Ham but water would do well too. The recipe is pretty standard – how can you improve on a classic? But never content to let well enough alone, I jazzed the soup up with some chile and then topped it with chile croutons. Croutons sound so classy when let’s be honest – it’s only fried bread. But fried bread is a good thing.

This make a healthy pot of soup – put the leftovers in plastic containers and pop in the freezer for a rainy/snowy day. Just don’t blame me if you find the containers breeding in your freezer. Ham has a way of doing that.

SOUPChile-Spiked Split Pea & Ham Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

Soup
1 medium onion, diced (about ¾ cup)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Green jalapeno powder
2 cups green split peas, rinsed
5 cups ham stock or water or vegetable broth
1 medium carrot, diced (about a heaping ½ cup)
1 heaping cup chopped ham (already cooked)

Croutons
1 thick slice bread, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
Chile Molido (mild or hot)
Salt

Garnish
Extra virgin olive oil
Chile pequin

photo 3

In a large casserole or soup pot, sauté the onions in the olive oil over low heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the green jalapeno powder and stir to coat the onions and garlic. Add the green split peas and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the peas are almost – but not completely cooked through. If the soup creates any scum, skim this off. Add the carrot and ham and continue cooking until the split peas are cooked through and soft but not mushy.

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While the soup is cooking, toss the bread cubes in a bowl with the olive oil and a generous sprinkle of the chile molido and salt. Place on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven until crisped – about 5-10 minutes.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with some chile pequin and garnish with the chile crotons.

CU