Men Who Cook: Joshua De Mers’ Pork Enchiladas

I was poking around the W4D cookbook trying to figure out what to post today when I remembered that our old friend Joshua had sent me a great looking recipe.  Here it is:

Sometimes you just look around your kitchen, see what all you have in the house, and figure out what the hell to do with it. This was the end result of one of those long stares into the refrigerator where you calmly await the Lady of Culinary Inspiration to whack you over the head. It’s a take-off from an older recipe of mine that I think works better in this iteration! Pretty much everything here is readily available at the grocery store. A tip for newer cooks: poblano peppers are the largish longish dark green chiles usually in the same section as the jalapenos. They should be dark, firm, and look like collapsed footballs. Enjoy!

Pork Enchiladas

  • 1 lb. boneless pork, either tenderloin or shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 tsps & 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 8 oz bag Mexican cheese blend
  • 12 corn tortillas (or until all of filling is used up)

in a large pot, combine pork, chicken stock, 2 tsps salt, and spices. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours or until meat is very tender. Watch liquid level so pork is always submerged, if necessary add in hot water to keep pork covered.

About 20 minutes before pork is done, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high. Add in onions, peppers, and 1 tsp of the salt. Allow vegetables to cook 10-12 minutes or until very soft with a little color on the edges. Two minutes before veggies are cooked, add in chopped garlic.

When veggies are good and soft and pork is cooked, remove pork from the remaining liquid. Either with your fingers (if you have the Teflon fingers) or with two forks (if yours are more delicate) shred pork into small bits. Mix together corn starch and water, add to liquid in pot, mix in cilantro, and bring to a boil until thickened. (You want it thicker than water but not too thick, it will thicken more as things bake in the oven.) Heat tortillas in microwave on high for 60 seconds, 5-6 at a time, until soft and pliable. Place about 1 tsp each of the pork, veggies, and cheese in a tortilla, and roll. Place seam side down into a 13x9x2 baking dish, making sure things stay tight and folded in. Continue assembling until all the filling is used (you may need an extra pan) and ladle sauce generously over the top. Cover top of enchiladas with the remaining cheese.

(You can actually stop here and freeze the enchiladas covered tightly in aluminum foil.)

Place pan into oven uncovered and cook 30-35 minutes or until cheese is melted thoroughly and enchiladas are hot and bubbly. Serve with Mexican rice and refried beans.

Joshua De Mers

Thanks Joshua for making my day a little easier.  This looks yummy. – TaMara

Men Who Cook: Joshua D.’s Smoke Salmon Schmear

Sometimes blogging is as simple as opening my email.  From our friend Joshua (also known as Yutsano to some of you) a quick little nosh:

Ever have a last-minute gathering crop up? Sometimes you just have to have SOMETHING to serve folks. One quick trip to the grocery store and 10 minutes will put all this together. And folks will think you slaved over it! Best part is the ingredient list is very short! So it’s even fairly easy on the pocketbook!

Last-Minute Smoked Salmon Schmear

  • 1 large green onion
  • 8 oz. smoked salmon
  • 8 oz. container mascarpone cheese (spreadable cream cheese will also work)
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)

Chop green onion finely. Place in small mixing bowl. Flake salmon over onions, mix well with fingers. Add in cheese and cream and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Depending on how loose you want spread you can add in more cream. Serve either immediately or chill in fridge for two hours to allow everything to marry together. Delicious on crackers, toast points, or bagels!

Joshua De Mers

Apple Chupaqueso

Kirk put this in the comments to the Apple Slaw recipe and since I had some leftover chopped apples and some shredded cheese and it was lunchtime, I thought I’d give it a go.  I used sharp cheddar for the shell and a habanero cheddar for the filling.  I folded and ate it like a taco. It was fast, simple and yummy.

Wanna be daring? Make an apple chupaqueso. Simplistically, think cheese crisp made into a shell to be stuffed.

You’ll want a non-stick skillet, several ounces of grated cheese, and chunked or chopped apples (that you peeled and cored first, please).

Mix about half the grated cheese with the apples.

Heat the skillet. Put a thin layer of grated cheese in the center, enough to form a tortilla sized circle. Let the cheese melt and begin to crisp (you can lift the edge). Flip the shell, and place a line of apple-cheese mix down the center. As soon as the other side of the shell lets you, fold the edges up over the apple-cheese mixture.

You can tri-fold ala burritos, or you can flat fold ala omelets. Or if you’ve skill you can slip the shell into or over a form before stuffing and turn it into a basket and fill that.

By the way, chupaquesos were originally a made-up creation in Howard Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary that took on a life of their own.

On Gumbo: Kirk Spencer

After reading my plea for a good gumbo recipe,  friend of blog, Kirk, came through again:

I’m not going to give you a recipe. In part it’s because there is no such thing as a perfect recipe anyone can share.  There are a lot of good recipes you can make perfect for you, but that’s a wee bit different.

It’s also because I’d like to concentrate on a couple of critical elements to making a great gumbo.  The first, and the cornerstone, is dark roux.

Good Eats had a decent technique for making dark roux, but I’ve still burned it going the oven route.  I’ve instead got a couple of tricks that work for me which I’ll share.

The first is to start by making a dry roux.  That is, you cook flour, dry, till it’s the color you want.  Now you’ll see this recommended as a ‘low fat’ technique, but I don’t go that way — gotta have my fat. What I do is add the fat near the end, about the time it’s chocolate but not yet brick.  (Chocolate is dark brown.  Brick is darker brown with just a somewhat reddish tint, and it goes to burned pretty soon after that.  In a perfect world you want brick.  In most worlds you settle for something between chocolate and brick.)

The second trick is to add mass near the end.  In other words you’ve got your roux going and it’s become chocolate.  You add your mirepoix and keep going.  The additional mass helps slow the heat going to the roux.  The risk here is that your addition will have enough moisture to kick the roux into its thickening process.  Because of this I tend to add as close to brick as I can while still short of that point.

By the way – cast iron is not good for dark roux unless you’re using the mass trick, and even then you can expect it to go bad a time or two.  It’s the cast iron advantage of being a heat sink working against you this time.

I said I’d share some more things.  The next thing is file’.  This might – unless you’ve had it before – be your special spice. File is dried and ground sassafras leaves.  If you bought it in a store there’s a very good chance it wasn’t really file — a lot of commercial companies doctor it with some thyme and bay and, well, a few other things. If it’s right it is green and smells very similar to but not exactly like coriander.

File, in addition to being a spice, will also thicken the gumbo.  But don’t add it during the cooking.  If you do it has a bad habit of  threading.  Instead, add it after you pull the pot from the stove. Alton Brown recommends either/or for okra or file thickening. I instead recommend using okra to get it slightly thickened during the cooking then file at the end to make it rib-sticking thick.  But I like thick soups, so again your mileage may vary.  As a last note, some very good cooks can add file while the stove is on the fire and not get threads.  Once more, ymmv.

Finally, a clue.  Gumbo is a thick stew that uses a dark roux as the critical spice.  Everything else is an option. Venison/beef/mutton/seafood? Turnips? Kale? No problem, really.  Make a dark roux, add some chunks and liquid, add more chunks of what you like, spice to taste, thicken it with okra and/or file, enjoy (usually over rice).  Really and truly, there is no true gumbo.

Kirk

Thanks Kirk, I can always count on your for the real stuff…

Kirk Spencer’s Chicken Paprikash

Friend of blog, Kirk Spencer takes a dish that sounds like the punchline to a good joke and breaks it down for us:

Chicken Paprikash is one of those simple dishes that gets re-discovered every once in a while because it’s amazingly good. At its heart it’s braised chicken. Its soul comes from paprika and sour cream – LOTS of paprika and sour cream, when you get right down to it.

You cut up a chicken, optionally dredge it in flour, brown the pieces in oil or butter, and set them aside. Now you take a couple of onions that you’ve cut up (prettily into thin rings, or quickly into medium chop, your choise choice), put them in the pan you pulled the chicken from and cook them till they brown. You add a small amount of water, broth, or wine, and deglaze (yes, with the water onions in), at which point you add a tablespoon of paprika and a teaspoon of salt and stir it in. (Yes, you read the measurements correctly). Put in the chicken pieces and toss and turn them till they’re covered with this flavorful mix. Now add enough liquid to come to between 1/4 and 1/3 up the chicken, bring it to a boil, bring it back down to a very low heat, cover it, and let it go for half an hour to 45 minutes.  (there’s more)

For the rest of the recipe, head on over to his blog:  Mental Meanderings.  If you’re looking for a new and intriguing flavor for dinner, this sounds like the dish to try.

Kirk Spencer’s Peached Tilapia

I asked around for some peach recipes and Kirk sent me a list of things he could do with peaches and asked me to choose.  I decided the fish sounded like a good idea.  I like using fruits with meats, fishes and poultry, so this one appealed to me.  Here’s Kirk:

OK, let’s start with editorial comments. Tilapia is a fish with almost no flavor of its own. Worse, the odds are you’re going to get farmed tilapia, which is going to be even blander. When you make tilapia, then, you’ve got two choices. You can go for extreme subtlety to tease out the taste of the fish. Or you can go for any darn flavor you want and let the fish provide texture. Here, I’m taking the low road. We’re going to end up with PEACH flavors on a tender fish texture.

Second editorial comment. I’m in the process of returning to cooking for just two. As a result that’s what you’re going to get for recipes – serves two adults who don’t pick at their food. A whole Tilapia is one to two pounds, of which between half and 2/3s is food for most USians (ie, we don’t pick the bones or eat the head — and we might leave the skin alone as well.)

  • Two whole (cleaned [ means gutted ] and scaled) tilapia – heads optional.

Glaze:

  • One peach, peeled, pitted, and crushed, measured.
  • 1/2 measure brown sugar.
  • 1/2 measure white sugar.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  • Dash of salt.

Filling:

  • One peach, peeled, pitted, and crushed.
  • 4 ounces crushed pecans.
  • 4 ounces butter.
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder.
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder.
  • Dash of salt.

Overview: Soak some toothpicks or skewers. Make the glaze. Make the filling. Stuff the tilapia and seal cavity closed. Grill for three minutes. Turn, spread glaze over finished side, grill for two more minutes. Move to finish plate with glazed side down and glaze the unfinished side. Let rest under heat trap for three to five minutes.

Details.

Glaze. Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until peaches seem translucent — about 20 minutes. Beware, the high sugar content is easy to burn. By the way, this is basically a homemade peach preserve. Remove from heat, but it’s fine to use this warm.

Filling.

Brown butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in pecans, cocoa and cayenne, and cook for another 30 seconds or so till it’s all hot and the pecans begin to brown. Add the peaches and remove from heat.

Make sure your tilapia are cleaned and scaled. Stuff half the filling into each fish’s belly. Use toothpicks or skewers that you’ve soaked in water for a few moments to close the bellies.

Heat your grill, and either oil the grate or oil the griddle on which you’ll hold the fish. Put the fish over direct heat about three-four inches above the coals for three minutes. Turn, and spread about half the glaze over the two fish’s upward sides. Let cook for two more minutes and move to a plate or pan, glaze side down. Yes, it’s going to stick to that pan. Glaze the side that’s now up, and put a lid or foil over the top to trap the heat. Let the fish rest for three to five minutes. Uncover and serve.

A service trick. Instead of using a pan for the rest, you could put the fish on the plates off which you’re going to eat. That way you don’t lose the bottom glaze to the pan. If you do this I recommend prewarming the plates.

RECOMMENDED SIDES:

A vinaigrette fruit salad – the easy way is a standard fruit salad tossed with a basic vinaigrette dressing, but the bananas usually used might be peculiar to some tastes. Alternatively any pickled, cold dish such as a vinaigrette slaw or sweet and sour red cabbage or carrot-daikon slaw. The sour will help balance the sweet of the fish, the cold will handle both the stove heat and the cayenne heat (not that there’s much in this.) Steamed greens of some sort – in this case I’d prefer steamed nettles, but any earthy green (kale, mustard greens, etc) will do.

Alternatively, buttered small beets will serve the same purpose. The earthy taste grounds the meal and helps make it seem more filling. Crisp, lightly toasted bread (such as a baguette) with a parmesan butter (1 part parmesan, three parts butter, whipped together) as support.

Kirk

Accidental Recipe: Roast Chicken Salad w/Homemade Mayonnaise

BadExampleMan had a really nice recipe this morning, so I thought I’d share it with you.  Here’s “what happens when a guy looks in the fridge”:

Spicy garlic mayonnaise

A variation on Alton Brown’s recipe, adjusted for taste and on-hand. Using the food processor is awesome – your arms don’t get tired!

  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 whole egg + 1 yolk
  • 1 t table salt
  • 1 t ground mustard seed
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t dark brown sugar
  • Scant 2 c safflower oil
  • 3 T hot chile oil

Add all wet ingredients (except the oil which is a liquid but isn’t “wet”) to the work bowl of a food processor along with the salt, mustard and sugar. Pulse 5 times. Turn processor on and add oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Keep at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Note: there’s a good reason for leaving the freshly-made mayo at room temp for 2 hours. In the unlikely case that the eggs are contaminated with salmonella, the acidity from the vinegar and lemon juice will work to kill the bacteria, but that action will only take place at room temperature. Refrigeration slows down all biological processes including the massacre of the evil beasties.

Roasted chicken salad

  • both breasts off a roasted chicken, diced
  • 1/2 a small onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 small roasted potatoes (optional)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs (optional)
  • 3/4 – 1 c spicy garlic mayo
  • smoked paprika

For the rest of the recipe, click here…..

I’ll be trying this one, soon.

Men Who Cook: Corn and Black Bean Salad, Josh D.

Once again Josh D. comes through with another fine recipe.  Josh, shouldn’t you be packing?

Take it away:

When a recipe gets eaten, you know folks are hungry. When you get repeated requests for the recipe, you know you done made it right! This is VERY simple to make, VERY nutritious, and best of all CHEAP! It makes a great side for tacos as an alternative to just beans and rice or snacking on with corn chips. Or even just rolled in a warmed flour tortilla!

Corn and Black Bean Salad

  • 3 ears corn, cooked until just tender
  • 1 16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large tomato, seeded & diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated fine
  • ½ tsp ground oregano, preferably Mexican
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 avocados, diced

Mix together all ingredients except avocados, allow to sit in refrigerator four hours or overnight. Right before serving, fold in avocados and adjust seasoning as necessary. Corn can be sautéed after kernels are removed, roasted on cobs, or boiled.