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.

 

Baked Sweet Potato with all the fillings

Dinner for two sounds awfully romantic doesn’t it? I know what you’re thinking – candlelight, some soft jazz and a glass/two/bottle of Merlot. It’s a night to remember as you gaze at that someone special/mildly memorable and wonder if it would blow the mood to suggest binge watching Game of Thrones.

But folks, dinner for two can be something a lot more down to earth. Ditch the candles and bin the George Benson cd – dinner for two can be survival on a week night. If you’ve got children (I feel your pain) then it’s homework and tantrums and trying to prise a phone out of their sharp, beady talons. It’s laundry and work emails that don’t care what time it is.

Then suddenly 9:00 p.m. and you realize – hey, guess what? – you haven’t eaten anything since that highly suspect tuna fish sandwich at noon. It’s at times like this – and we’ve all had them – that you need something you can get on the table ASAP. Before you can press speed dial for pizza delivery, you can have a baked sweet potato done and on the table. (That is if you use our very good friend the microwave.)

And if you’re really tired, feel free to eat dinner in bed. We won’t tell. Honest.

Serves 2

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes (about 1 lb total weight)

1 oz goat’s cheese or feta cheese, a nice size chunk

3-4 radishes, sliced thinly

1 or 2 spring onions, sliced

pumpkin seeds, to garnish

 

Green chile butter

1 stick/4 oz. butter, softened

1 tbsp cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish

1 tsp green jalapeño powder

zest of 1 lime

Salt

Wash and dry the sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a sharp knife. Microwave at high heat for 5 minutes, check and microwave in 2 minute intervals until tender all the way through.

To make the green chile butter, mix the softened butter with the chopped cilantro, green jalapeño powder and lime zest. Taste and add salt as needed and place in a ramekin.

When the sweet potatoes are done, slice down the middle, add a healthy spoonful of the butter. Divide the cheese between the servings, add the sliced radishes and spring onions and garnish with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and the extra cilantro. Eat it up while it’s hot and then in bed – it’s a school night.

Spice rubbed pork stew with orange, beans & onions

It ain’t over folks. So don’t break out your linen pants or sundresses, because old man/woman winter hasn’t exited stage left. There is more to come, dollars to donuts. Don’t put away your sweaters or your snow tires and for heaven’s sake would you stop looking at that seed catalog.

When will we learn that we rush winter at our peril? Winter will leave when it’s good and ready. And before you think that a few daffodils blooming, mean that spring has sprung – well think again. You’ll be draping wee daffodil-sized coats on those daffy flowers when the cold snap comes back with a vengeance.

Besides, winter is an excuse to savor comfort food. Something cooked nice and slow. Lots of spice and not a lettuce leaf in sight. Because all too soon, spring will show up for its day in the sun, and then summer will be here with all its heat and humidity and suddenly winter won’t look so bad after all.

Serves 4

1 ¾ lb pork, cut into large chunks

1 Tbsp chile molido powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 whole ancho chile

1 large red onion

1 orange

¾ pint chicken stock

1-14 oz can of butter beans, drained

Olive or vegetable oil

Salt

Chopped pistachios & cilantro to garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 250°F

Mix the chile power, turmeric and cumin seeds together and rub over the pieces of pork. Place the pork in a bowl or re-sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for several hours or over night.

Slice the onion into thick rings. Heat a frying pan, add a drizzle of oil and cook the onions on both sides until gently browned. Remove and set aside. Sprinkle the pork generously with salt, add more oil to the pan if needed, and cook the pork in batches, browning on all sides. Add the onions back into the pan. Peel the zest off the orange using a vegetable peeler and add to the pork and onion mixture. Juice the orange and add along with the chicken stock and the dried ancho chile, making sure the stem is removed. The liquid should almost cover the pork and onions.

Cover and place in the oven and cook at low heat for around 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender and flakes easily. Alternatively, you can cook in a slow cooker. Remove the meat and onions from the cooking liquid and keep warm. Remove the grease from the liquid. (A handy way, is to pour the liquid into a measuring cup and pop it in the fridge. The oil will gather at the top and you can scoop it off.)

Place the liquid back in the pan, reduce until thickened slightly and add the pork and onions back in, along with the beans. Serve hot and garnish with chopped pistachios and cilantro, if you desire.

 

 

Vegetarian posole stew

We’d like to be the first to say Feliz Cinco de Mayo. It’s always a red-letter day here at Chile Trail HQ but even more so this year because – drumroll please – it falls on a Saturday. Can you believe it? No, we can’t either. Let’s just say that it’s Cinco & Seis de Mayo. Heck, let’s throw in Friday too and call it Cuatro, Cinco, Seis de Mayo. Ok, maybe a bit too long but you get the point.

So you know what’s on our minds. Yep, food. Everyone has a favourite but we’ve got a couple of thoughts (naturally).

Number one: make sure there’s a lot of it. There is nothing worse that running out of food and drink. People, your guests are hungry. They’re thirsty. Stock up.

Number two: variety. You’ve got your mole, you’ve got your guacamole, you’ve got your tres leche cake. This is a time to test the architectural endurance of your dining room table. We’re talking heaving folks.

Number three: delegate. You didn’t actually think we expected you to cook all that food, did you? Of course not. When someone asks what they can bring, tell ‘em. And when you ask us – and we know you will, right? – we’ll be bringing a pot of posole.

Now you know posole, but this one is vegetarian and vegan, all in one lip smacking tasty bowl of happiness. It’s so good that even the most committed carnivores will be pushing over old ladies to get a bowlful. But please don’t. There’s plenty to go around.

Vegetarian posole stew

1-12oz package of white corn posole

1-1oz package of posole spice blend

3 small zucchini, about 10-12 oz, sliced into discs (diced if larger)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small clove garlic, minced

1-14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish (optional)

Chopped green onions

Chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

Sliced avocado

Place the posole in a non-reactive bowl or pan and cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse well. Put the posole in a large pot, cover with water and simmer for one hour.

Drain and add the posole mix and enough fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 3 hours or until the posole has ‘popped’ and is tender. Check the water levels periodically and top up as needed.

Just before serving, warm the oil and sauté the zucchini over medium-high heat, just until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the drained and rinsed black beans and the zucchini into the posole. Taste and season with salt and more chile if you desire.

Serve in bowls with your choice of garnishes.