Chile Monkfish Skewers

Hope you’re ready to stoke up the barbecue because it’s only a box of sparklers away from the Fourth of July. And we all know a barbecue is a legal requirement on the 4th. Okay, maybe not a law that’s actually written down or something mentioned in the Constitution but it might as well be. So let’s get your shopping list sorted: warm beer, burned burgers and some dodgy potato salad with sun-kissed (aka food-poisoned) mayo. Top it off with ice cream that some numb-nut forgot to put in the freezer and you’re sorted.

Gonna be fun, right?

Or you could try – just try – and be classy for once in your life. Skip the beef and barbecue fish instead. Radical? Mad? Totally bonkers? Hear me out: monkfish is a dream to grill – full of flavour and firm enough to hold its own. Or you could use swordfish or splash out on tuna. Not feeling fishy? Go for chicken thighs. Put some rosé on ice to chill, crank the tunes and dazzle your guests.

Better yet, don’t invite any guests. Channel your inner curmudgeon. Just because you’ve got to barbecue doesn’t mean you have to share.

Serves 2-3

1 monkfish tail, skinned & boned, about 1 lb.

small knob of ginger, about ½ oz., peeled and finely grated

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp chile molido powder hot

½ tsp Chimayo blend New Mexico chile

½ tsp salt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

zest and juice of 1 lime

To garnish (optional):

Chopped dill and/or cilantro

Lime wedges

Chile pequin

Mix the ginger, garlic, spices and salt together in a bowl, large enough to hold the fish. Add the olive oil, lime juice and zest and give it a good stir. Slice the monkfish into hefty chunks – about 1½” cubes, add to the marinade and place in the refrigerator for about an hour – no longer or the acid from the lime starts to ‘cook’ the fish.

Insert the chunks onto several skewers – if using wooden ones, make sure and soak them in water before hand. Grill over a medium hot fire, turning occasionally until all the sides are nicely charred. In total, about 8 minutes.

Serve with your choice of garnishes – you decide! Eat, enjoy and revel in summer.

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.