22 March 2011

I hate chili

I'm not a big fan of chili.

Maybe it's the gastro-elitist in me, but chili just seems so...well... ummm.... common.

To me, chili is something that non-selective eaters too often just scoop from a can and toss in the microwave. Kaboom -- there you have it -- dinner. Last night frozen pizza, tomorrow night Kraft macaroni and cheese.

Now, I'll grant you that there is some damn good chili to be had out there. My friend Tom used to make an incredible lamb chili that was as savory as it was spicy.

Faced with a big hunk of leftover Chinese pot roast that threatened to go past its safe-eating expiration, I decided to whip up some impromptu chili of my own. Nothing approaching the complexity of Tom's recipe, this was more of an effort to use what was on hand or readily available for a quick week night meal.

recycled Chinese pot roast (or any similar beef roast)
ground pork
2 cans chili-style pinto and red kidney beans (Heinz brand)
1 large can seasoned tomatoes (Italian style with herbs and celery)
1/2 jar corn salsa (Trader Joe's)
salt & pepper
hot sauce (Cholula)
shredded cheese (tex-mex mixture)
sour cream
tortilla chips (crumbled)

Saute ground pork with garlic. Combine in large pan with beef, beans, tomatoes and corn. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and anything else you can think of.  When ready to serve, top with crumbled tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream and cilantro.

18 March 2011

guinness corned beef

Although my mother proudly proclaimed her Irish heritage, I can't remember her ever actually cooking corned beef and cabbage.

Not sure why, but I'm guessing it's because my father objected to strong smells emanating from the kitchen. It wouldn't matter if the temperature was below zero, he'd rush like a madman to open all the windows in the house and turn on a powerful hall fan at the slightest hint of cooking odor.

Maybe that's why I follow a personal tradition of always cooking corned beef on St. Patrick's Day. That and the fact that I really love it. A good brisket is difficult to find most of the time in Canada, so St. Patrick's Day is a welcome opportunity to find one in the grocery.

1 pre-packaged, seasoned corned beef brisket
1 can Guinness draft-style beer
Dijon-style course-ground mustard
pearl onions
baby carrot
yellow potatoes
prepared sauerkraut
herbes de Provence
lavender salt

My recipe is dead simple. Dump the brisket in the slow cooker, fat side up. Spread mustard on the top. Empty a can of Guinness into the pot, covering them meat about halfway. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Cut potatoes into irregular chunks and add to slow cooker. Continue cooking on low setting 2 more hours.

Prepare pearl onions by first immersing them in boiling water for three minutes, then rinsing under cold water. Cut root end of onion and squeeze to remove the outer skin. Sauté carrots and onions in olive oil and butter at low-medium heat, carmelizing them. Season with herbes de Provence and lavender salt.

Heat sauerkraut and simmer about 20 minutes. Discard liquid and season with lots of butter and pepper.

Remove brisket from slow cooker, allowing meat to stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Toss potatoes in butter and dill.

11 March 2011

Chinese Pot Roast

Pot roast is the epitome of comfort food. This recipe is just like your mom used to make... if your mom happened to be Chinese.

Until just a few weeks ago, this was the only thing I ever cooked in the slow cooker my mom gave me. Writing about that fact when I made slow cooker tuscan beef stew reminded me to make this one again.

I originally cut out a non-crockpot version of this recipe from the Chicago Tribune about 20 years ago. I still have the clipping, worn with age and finally transcribed here. I adapted it for slow cooker.

1 chuck beef roast, 3-4 lbs
2 tsp black pepper
3-4 tbsp peanut oil
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
3 celery rib, sliced
4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp minced ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 3/4 cup red wine, water, or stock
2 tbsp thyme
2 bay leaves

Add later:
cubed potatoes
cubed daikon radish
baby carrots


Rub roast with pepper. Heat oil in heavy pan large enough to hold meat. Brown meat well on all sides over medium high heat for about 12-15 minutes. Remove meat from pan.

Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and ginger. Cook over medium heat until browned, soft and fragrant. Add 1/2 cup liquid to pot and scrape bottom well to loosen any browned bits. Transfer contents to slow cooker crockpot.

Add thyme and bay leaves. Add meat and remaining liquid to pot. The liquid should come about a third to halfway up the meat. Cook on low temperature The more gently the meat cooks, the more moist it will be. Turn meat about every hour. Cook about 6 hours.

At about 4 hours cooking time, add potatoes, radish and baby carrots.

Serve with jasmine rice and a green Asian vegetable. In this version, I used pea pods quickly sautéed with sliced green onion, lemon zest, and Maggi seasoned soy sauce. Also served this with Trader Joe's corn relish.

09 March 2011

deep fried trout with tarako spaghetti

Rainbow trout, salmon's smaller cousin, seem more popular as targets for fly fishers than objects of culinary adventure. I've never quite understood why trout are so reasonably priced, almost downright cheap, if you are lucky enough to find them fresh and available in stores. Maybe people are put off by their small size or the many, fine bones inside. Yet trout are easy to cook and fillet. The delicate, nutty taste of trout is best when the fish is prepared in the simplest way possible.

whole rainbow trout
spaghetti noodles
S&B (Japanese) spicy cod roe spaghetti sauce
brocoli crowns
Kewpie (Japanese) mayonnaise
Old Bay seasoning
grape seed oil
lemon pepper salt

Ponzu dipping sauce:
shōyu (Japanese soy sauce)
Japanese sushi rice vinegar
lime juice
finely chopped green onions
Cape Herb & Spice Co. Heat Wave seasoning

Clean and pat dry trout. Dredge in mixture of flour and Old Bay seasoning. Deep fry at 325 degrees for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, boil spaghetti noodles. Drain and toss lightly with grape seed oil, then toss with cod roe sauce. Spinkle nori on top.

Cook broccoli crowns in microwave in a covered container for about 3-4 minutes. Season with lemon pepper salt. Drizzle with mayonnaise.

Serve with ponzu dipping sauce.