Friday, September 6, 2013

Pork Green Chili

by Ann
The finished product garnished with grated cheese and chopped cilantro.
We do whatever we can to get out of the heat in the summer in the Phoenix area. A quick solution to that problem is to drive about three hours to the mountainous pines of Flagstaff, which is what my husband and I did a couple of months ago with another couple for three days.  While there we ate at MartAnne's cafe, and I ordered the best pork green chili I could remember ever tasting in my life served over eggs and tortillas as huevos rancheros. The hubby had another iteration of the green chili as a key component of their popular posole soup (of which I am not a fan since I don't like hominy, another key component).

Unfortunately I didn't think to take a picture of the dish, but I can guarantee you I'd been thinking OF the chili for the rest of the hot summer, until I decided to make it last week. As has become my routine, I looked up several recipes on the Internet and grabbed ingredients from each that I thought would work.  Can I say that mine was as good as MartAnne's?  Unfortunately, no, but it was close, and next time it will be even closer.

Here's what I used:

pork shoulder roast* - you need at least two pounds of edible chunks of pork to make this worthwhile
4-6 T oil or bacon fat
1 large chopped onion
1 whole head of garlic
6 T flour
2 c diced green chilies (details below)
1 pound tomatillos
4 c chicken broth, stock, or water
2 T cumin
2 T chile powder
salt to taste

Here's what I did:

Prep the meat.
Being a bit handicapped due to my second bunion procedure, I sent the hubby to the store for a bone-in pork roast for two reasons; "half off pork sale" at the store that week, and that my misguided vision thought that if I crock-potted the roast prior to making the chili the bone would impart extra richness in flavor.  Bad idea.  Or maybe the complication came with the male perspective of "bigger is better" because the 8.5 pound roast did not even fit into the crock pot.  So, I monkeyed around with it until I could get the meat cut into bit sized chunks, which would have been a heck of a lot easier if I'd started with a boneless pork loin!
*  The quantities of ingredients other than the pork would work with 2-4 pounds of meat depending upon how spicy you like your food, and how hot the chilies are.  This is a recipe that you add liquid and spice as needed and to taste.
Ooops... Lid won't fit...
Regardless of how you get there, the pork needs to be cut into about 1" cubes and browned in fat or oil.

This was a portion of what I got off of the roast in several stages, but gives the idea about the chunk-size.
Prepare the tomatillos.  
In spite of the fact that I have lived in Arizona since I was a small child, and love to cook I had never cooked with tomatillos before!  They have a papery husk that needs to be removed, and when that's done they have a funky sticky texture, but you'll cook that out of them.  
Tomatillos are interesting - if you try them raw they have a very tart, bitter bite, but cooking them mellows the flavor out tremendously.
Remove husks, rinse, slice in half, and place on foil-lined baking sheet to broil.  Broil for 5-8 minutes until outsides become a bit blistery.  Turn over and broil for another 5 or so minutes.  Tomatillos will cook down quite a bit, so what starts as a tray full ends up being a third of a tray.  Pick any black scorched skins off and toss.  Place in a large bowl.  (In my case, I put them in the crock pot once the meat was removed.)
Broil each side.  Some of the skin will char -- remove the black stuff -- once cooled that's a snap.
Prepare your chilies.  
In the southwest we have lots of options that might not be as readily available in other parts of the country. For the produce-seeking grocery trip I had the hubby cart me around since I still couldn't drive, so we went a few places looking for New Mexican Hatch green chilies, to no avail.  You could use canned, but if prepared are your only option, better yet look in the freezer section for frozen.  I have been very happy with the Bueno brand of chopped, frozen green chilies.  I bought Anaheim chilies at the first store, but then we went to a Hispanic market and bought some that had already been roasted, which is a huge time saver.
If you're using fresh chilies, broil them just like the tomatillos.  Then place them in a sealed bag to loosen the skins.  Toss skins, stems, and seeds.  Dice the  remaining flesh of the peppers into about 1/2 inch pieces. 
Prepare your roux.
Add chopped onions and garlic to 4-6 T oil or bacon fat.  If you have any residual fat from the meat prep, use it.  Saute the onion and garlic until translucent; add the flour, and cook until golden brown.  Add the stock or water and cook until thickened.  Stock adds another layer of flavor, so is preferable, but not necessary. 

Cook the onion (and garlic which hasn't been added quite yet) in oil or bacon fat until translucent.
Add flour and cook until the fat is fully absorbed and the flour turns a nice golden brown color.
Create your sauce.
Add about 2/3 of the chilies you plan to use to your bowl with cooked tomatillos (mine included a couple of cups of stock).  With an immersion blender (or you could do this in a regular blender) liquefy the tomatillo/green chilies/broth and spices to have a creamy sauce that isn't too chunky. You will add the remaining chopped green chilies in tact to add a few chunks.

Spices were blended with an immersion blender to the 2/3 of the green chilies, tomatillos, and remaining liquid that I had unsuccessfully tried to cook the too-big roast in the crock-pot in.
Put it all together to simmer until tender.
Put all above mentioned "parts" in a Dutch oven or crock pot.  Add diced tomatoes and remaining diced chilies that were not blended. Cook until meat is very tender (half a day in the crock pot or a couple of hours on the stove).  Serve garnished with cilantro, grated cheese, and whatever else sounds good (sour cream?).

On a farewell for now note:

As you have most likely gathered from my dear friends' past two posts, this is the last regular post that will appear on Friendship, Life, and Style.  For many reasons we've decided to take a break.  It saddens me in lots of ways, but is a bit of a relief as well.  As a former teacher I sometimes compared writing my posts to papers that needed to be graded...  I knew it had to be done, but there was often more pressing (or fun) things to do instead.  The papers were part of a job -- this whole adventure was designed to be fun, which it certainly has been, yet could also feel like one more thing to do.  

Thank you for reading our ramblings.  This is our 202nd post. Had it not been for the blogging adventure I would have never:
  • Truly understood what blogging was all about, nor looked to fellow bloggers for recipes, ideas, and inspiration.
  • Been motivated to apply for the "Kitchen Assistant" position at Sur la Table; and therefore not had the many fun experiences with the interesting people that I work with at the store.
  • Made fresh pasta... or for that matter using tomatillos!
  • Connected in a new way to people I will never know personally, but through the virtue of blogging feel like I know.
  • Had an audience who chose to read what I had to write (as opposed to the teachers who have to read what I write!)
  • Had a grand adventure with my best buds, Sheila and Heather.
Who knows....  We may decide we miss the pressure of deadlines and resurrect the blog at some point.  But for now, I am feeling empowered to continue to post and occasional recipe if I do something fabulous since we will keep our site live if anyone wants to refer back to a previous post.   

Bon Appetite!
With love and thanks, 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sangria; A Summertime Specialty

by Sheila

You may have read about our pool float parties.  I'm sure by now you know we like wine.  The natural pairing here is one of our summer favorites; Sangria.  We have been making this since the days we couldn't afford to drink anything else.  I am typically a white wine drinker (might be the heat of the desert), but for Sangria, I definitely prefer red.  This is great to make for  a crowd, and is best if made several hours prior to serving, if not the night before.
One of the advantages of a good Sangria, is that you can serve a wine beverage to a large group without breaking the bank.  Because you are adding sugar and fruit, there is no reason to use a high quality expensive wine.  A red that you like in the $5-7 a bottle range should do the trick.  I have been known to use the "leftovers" of a variety of red wines to create my Sangria on weekends that we were doing lots of entertaining, and this works great. This is my favorite all-time Sangria (I like it as well as any I've had in Spain) and this recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

2 large juice oranges, washed; 1 sliced, 1 juiced
1 large lemon, washed and sliced
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c triple sec
1 750 ml bottle inexpensive, fruity medium bodied red wine chilled (merlot or pinot?)

1.  Add sliced orange and lemon and sugar to bottom of pitcher.  Mash gently with wooden spoon until fruit releases some juice but is not totally crushed, and sugar dissolves.  Stir in orange juice, Triple Sec and wine.  Refrigerate for at least a few hours, and up to 12 hours.  

2.  Add ice to serve and stir briskly to mix up fruit and pulp. 

I have a large beverage dispenser that I like to serve this in, but be careful because the fruit can clog up the spout. I also like to garnish glasses with a slice of fruit as well.  And needless to say, I often double this recipe! 

If you read Heather's post on Monday, you know that we are signing off on our blog, at least for the time being.  It has been a great adventure, but adds one more thing to do in an already busy schedule. Blogging on a regular basis is not without its issues.  Like the time I was in a rental car down at Cranky Al's Donut Shop in Milwaukee using their free wifi at 11 pm at night the night before my post was to be published, trying to get everything done.  Crazy!  We appreciate your interest and loyalty and will be leaving all of our posts up, so if you want to double check one of Ann's recipes, or need some design inspiration from Heather, it will be there.  We have learned a lot along the way, and had fun sharing ideas and solving problems together.  We will continue our friendship "behind the scenes" and if we decide to start up again in the future, we'll post here.  Thanks for reading...



Monday, September 2, 2013

Autumn 2013 Home Tour, Part II

by Heather

Welcome back to my early autumn decorating for 2013. If you didn't catch Part I of the Autumn Home Tour and you really want to see more (you're nuts like me) swing back to Friday, August 30, when you're done looking at this one.

We're starting in the family room today...
A Pottery Barn wreath gets hung over a black and gold mirror I found at the Cave Creek Town Dump (a local shop that has a very strange assortment of goods) which is set against the beveled mirror above the fireplace mantel. The candle sconces on either side of the fireplace get Pottery Barn candles and a potpourri mix of dried oranges, nuts, and berries. 
A couple of lanterns, lighted vine pumpkins, and vases filled with leaves and lighted twigs are placed on top of the entertainment center in the family room. Natural gourds round out the fall decor along with a Pottery Barn leaf garland.
A Pottery Barn mercury glass vase houses a battery-operated candle and is flanked by silver antler candlesticks from Z Gallerie. More lighted vine pumpkins help illuminate the vignette on the glass-topped table.
The leather ottoman gets its fall look with a mercury glass candlestick, pumpkin, and bowl contained in a zebra and black wooden tray from Stein Mart. Another Pottery Barn fall candle adds to the ambiance. 
The small round table next to the sofa has a simple vignette of fall items.
The dining room table has two lanterns from Home Goods, a couple of vine pumpkins, and my favorite, a piece of driftwood from the Mogollon Rim. Hubby drilled holes for the votives and I wound a glass-beaded vine around it. Three shed antlers complete the tablescape centerpiece. If you look closely, you can just pick out the orange and cream chevron pattern runner from Home Goods.
This pewter and glass two-tiered shelf from my favorite local shop, On the Veranda, comes out for fall and is outfitted with pewter goblets, jugs, and small ceramic gourds.
Technically, this isn't fall decorating since the female bust on a bedside table in the master bedroom has been wearing the orange necklace and fedora for most of the summer  but orange is my favorite autumn color so I couldn't resist including it.
This small picture is very special to me -- it was painted by a friend of my grandfather's in 1918 when they were both serving in the British navy.

On another note:

Have you heard that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones are "taking a break"? It sounds as if it's kind of like a separation but not yet a divorce. I guess it allows the couple to re-think why they fell in love and where their relationship is heading. Well, along that same thought process, I'm going to take a break from blogging. I need to re-discover the passion that I had for blogging when Ann, Sheila, and I first started this adventure.

The best part of blogging for me has been getting to know fellow bloggers and readers from all parts of the world.  I can't thank you enough for sharing yourselves with me through your comments. Your words have brought smiles (and sometimes outright laughter) and have made the world seem a whole lot smaller and a whole lot kinder. I've enjoyed being a part of the blogger community and will continue to follow your posts and be inspired by your thoughts and actions.

Ann and Sheila will be sharing their thoughts on Wednesday and Friday so please make sure to stop by and read what their decisions will be.

Love and good-bye for now,