Posole

Posole is a stew of pork, hominy, and red chile, popular in the southwestern US. It is a blend of Spanish (mainly pork) and native ingedients (corn and chile). There are probably almost as many recipes as there are people who make it, but here is mine. This version is a rich, smokey stew. It has become my traditional New Years Day meal, as it is perfect on a blustery winter day.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds pork, preferably tenderloin or loin (see notes)
  • 3 cups drained whole hominy (a 30 oz can or 2 15.5 oz cans)
  • 3 cups finely diced white or yellow onion
  • 4 – 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (should make around 1 Tablespoon, or more to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons ground New Mexico red chile (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 cups water

Notes

  1.  I normally use smoked pork tenderloin for this. Use a dry rub of brown sugar, new mexico chile powder, garlic powder, and salt and smoke until temperature is 165 F. I usually have enough left for a meal of just the tenderloin, which is quite good this way.  This adds some mild sweetness and a smoky undertone, but is optional – you can use raw tenderloin or loin, just cook a bit longer to make sure the meat is done.
  2.  If you can get actual posole corn, use it instead of the canned hominy. That also requires longer cooking, as much as 2 – 2.5 hours total time.
  3. Red chile is a key ingredient and shouldn’t be omitted. It can be as mild or hot as you like. For this dish I prefer the mild New Mexico chiles, mixed with a bit of ancho for a more complex flavor. You could mix in hot New Mexico chile, or any other ground red chile, but the main one should be New Mexico (hot or mild, or both). These are available in whole form at many grocers, and can be seeded and ground in a spice/coffee grinder (do not use this for coffee afterward!). I get ground chile from savoryspice.com. Outside of the U.S. you could probably substitute sweet and hot paprika, and maybe mixed with a bit of smoked Spanish paprika. I’ve never tried this so I don’t actually know how it would come out.

Procedure

In a large dutch oven saute the onion in a bit of olive oil until it is starting to become transparent. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Then add the cumin, salt, pork, water, and hominy. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and lower heat. Simmer for about 1 hour if using smoked pork, and up to 2 hours for raw pork.  If using posole corn instead of hominy, continue cooking until it has all exploded out of the shells. Near the end of cooking, taste, and add salt as needed.

Serve with crackers, or flour tortillas to soak up the broth.

 

 

 

Fried Rice, Southeast Asia Style (more or less)

This version of fried rice is not particularly authentic to any one cuisine, but was inspired mostly by Indonesian fried rice.  It uses Thai fish sauce rather than ketjap manis, and they probably don’t use peas. But they do use the scrambled eggs that I like to throw in. It is reasonably healthy, although a bit high in salt (thanks to the fish sauce). The main feature is that you can change things around however you like. If  this is too salty use less fish sauce. If you don’t like peas, leave them out. If you’d rather use pork than chicken go right ahead. Have fun, and enjoy.

This recipe will feed 4 – 6 people, depending on their appetites.

  • 4 cups cooked Basmati rice, cooked a day ahead (see notes)
  • 2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 6 TBS fish sauce (see notes)
  • 6 scallions, white and light green sliced thinly, dark green in 1″ pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS crushed red pper or 2 thinly sliced fresh cayenne peppers (optional, or adjust to desired heat level)
  • 2 TBS canola or any vegetable oil, divided

In a large (at least 10″) skillet ! TBS heat oil over medium low heat. Beat the two eggs throughly, and add to skillet. Make sure they spread out as much as possible – the goal is a very thin omelette. Cook until mostly done through, being careful not to create any browning. Carefully flip and cook another 30 seconds, then lay out on a cutting board.  Add the remaining oil and bump the heat to medium. Let the skillet reheat. Add carrots, cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. While these are cooking, slice the omelette into strips about 3/4″ wide. Keep 4 or 5 of these whole, and chop the rest into pieces about 1″ long. Next add the chicken and let that heat throuh (about 1 minute). Add rice and scallions, and mix . Add fish sauce, and make sure everything is mixed thoroughly. Add pepper (if using), the diced pieces of egg,  and peas, and continue cooking until everything is is well mixed and heated through.  Place in a large serving bowl and garnish with the whole strips of egg.

Notes:

Notice that I specified Basmati rice, which is grown in the Himalayan foothills and cured for (I think) a year.  This rice has a lower glycemic index than starchier rices, and I think it works better for this dish. You really don’t want sticky rice here, unlike the Chinese version. I am diabetic, and this is actually the only type of rice I can eat. If you can’t get Basmati, use another long grain rice. Jasmine rice (which comes from Thailand) will work fine, although not quite as well as Basmati. Do NOT use any short or medium grain rice, it will be much too sticky.

The rice must be cooked ahead of time, preferably at least a day ahead. This allows the rice to firm up and dry out a bit. What I do is to cook 2 cups (raw) basmati rice according to package directions, and when cool enough, place in a storage container and cover with a dish cloth, and let sit in the refrigerator until it is time to use. 2 cups of uncooked basmati rice makes around 7 or 8 cups of cooked rice, So you can either have a lot kleftover (I eat it a lot anyway), or just cook 1 cup and adjust the recipe if it doesn’t make quite enough cooked. Proportions aren’t that critical anyway.

For the chicken I normally use rotisserie chicken. Last time I made it I didn’t have quite enough so I added a smoked chicken thigh (which added a nice smokey undertone). Use what you have available.

There are a number of brands of fish sauce available in the U.S. (not to mention worldwide). In general they are quite pungent, but brands can vary quite a bit.  So my suggestion would be to start with a smaller amount than called for, and taste as you cook. You can always add more, but if you put in too much, there’s not much you can do. Note that I did not call for salt in this recipe. fish sauce is generally quite salty. But if you think you need some, go ahead and add it.

For peppers, fresh is better, but they can be hard to find. Cayenne (red or green), Thai, or even Fresno, should all work. Use what you think you need for your desired heat level. I did not have fresh peppers available for this batch so I used crushed red pepper. The 1 TBS called out in the ingredients made a moderately spicy batch. Better to have too little than too much.

This is one of those recipes that should work with nearly any ingredients you have on hand (within reason). I add peas and carrots because they are colorful, and I like them. They are not required. You could also probably add a few cilantro leaves as a garnish. Use this as a starting point and have fun with it.

 

Chicken and Rice Soup with Ginger

This is a delicious, refreshing,  healthy soup even on a hot summer day. And it is easy to make – it uses a grocery store rotisserie chicken. It makes a fairly large batch.

  • 8 cups chicken broth  (for U.S. readers, that is 2 32 oz boxes)
  • 1/2 cup Basmati (or other long grained) rice
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 4 oz shiitake or button mushrooms (use whatever you can find)
  • 2TBS grated fresh giger
  • 1 – 2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken (2 – 3 lbs)
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely
  • 2 TBS olive oil (or any vegetable oil)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion, mushrooms, ginger, 1/2 tsp salt (and pepper if desired). Cook until tender, but not to the point of browning (about 3 – 4 minutes).  Add broth and rice and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is tender (about 12 minutes).

In the meantime, remove all meat from the chicken and shred into spoon size chuncks. You should have at least 3 cups. For a very meaty soup you can use all of it, or just the minimum of 3 cups (or anywhere in between). When the rice is done, stir in the chicken and scallions, and heat through. check seasoning level and add salt as needed.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with some cilantro leaves.

Notes

If your grocer does not have rotisserie chickens for sale in their deli area you can just use any cooked chicken meat (do not try to cook it in the soup while the rice is cooking, it will not be done until the rice turns to mush). A mix of dark and light meat is best, but use what you prefer.

 

 

 

Potato Leek Soup with Smoked Sausage

Potato leek soup is a hearty soup made with (surprise!) leeks and potatoes. There are many variations, some rustic (like this one) and some smooth and elegant (vichyssoise). My take on it includes some protein.  It is summer as I write this, and very hot out. So why such a hearty soup? One, I like it. Two, I have it for lunch, and then try to eat a lighter dinner. So let’s start.

Recipe

  • 2.5  pounds yukon gold (or similar) potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium to large leeks
  • 1TBS olive oil
  • 8 ounces smoked sausage (see note below)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme (or more to taste, but don’t go overboard)
  • 1 – 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 32 fl oz chicken stock
  • water as needed

Notes

Smoked sausage can be any type available in your location. In central Texas I use a Texas style pork sausage, usually a brand that incorporates Hatch Green Chiles. But anything else such as kielbasa should work just fine (in fact the Texas sausage is a descendant of central European sausages).  You could even use smoked chicken.

You can substitute fresh oregano and/or thyme, and I think it makes a better soup. use a bit less if doing this.

Procedure

Slice the leeks down the middle and wash thoroughly (they often have dirt or sand between the layers), then slice them across the grain. Include all the white and light green parts, but discard the tough dark green part.  In a dutch oven or stock pot saute the leeks in a bit of olive oil until somewhat softened (about 4 – 5 minutes over medium low heat).  Add all seasonings (start salt at 1 tsp, then adjust later on for taste). Add potatoes and cook 1 minute more. Add enough chicken stock to just cover the potatoes.  If the 32 oz box isn’t enough add a bit of water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer (covered) for about 25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. In the meantime, slice up the sausage.

When potatoes are done, use a potato masher to crush some of the potatoes. Don’t go wild with this – the object is to just release more starch into the soup to thicken it slightly. Now add the sausage and let it heat through for a few minutes. In a dutch oven you can do this off heat, as it will retain enough heat to keep thing warm for a while.

Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros (ranch style eggs) is a hearty breakfast or bruch meal. At its most basic, it’s fried eggs smothered in a tomato and chile sauce. Normally the eggs are placed on a fried corn tortilla first. This recipe is for a large batch of sauce, which can be frozen and then used as needed,

Sauce

  • 1 28 oz can of whole or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground red chile (see note for types)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano (use regular if you can’t find Mexican)
  • 1 small yellow onion (or 1/2 large one)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

Finely dice the onion. In a dutch oven or large sauce pan sautee the onion until translucent and semi-soft. Add garlic powder and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring. Add tomatoes. If they are whole, crush them with a spoon. Best results come with using an immersion blender to coarsely puree the tomatoes. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until flavors have a chance to blend.  Taste, and add more salt if needed. Set aside for later

Notes: I use a mix of hot New Mexican, Ancho, and pasilla chiles. You can also use mild New Mexican, guajillo, or Anaheim. Pick your favorites.  Note that cumin is very strong. You can use as little as 1/4 tsp.

Serving

  • 2 large eggs per person (or one if you are a light eater)
  • 1 corn tortilla per egg
  • Olive or canola oil for frying
  • refried beans
  • cilantro
  • cotija cheese

Fry corn tortillas in a 10 – 12 inch frying pan. They should be reasonably crisp, but don’t make them as hard as tortilla chips (Doritos, etc). Drain on a paper towel. If you are doing a large number, put them on a plate in a warm oven while cooking the rest)

Now fry the eggs. Traditionally they should be sunny side up, but over easy is fine. As long as they have a runny yolk its all good. Place one egg on each tortilla and ladle sauce around the egg (leave the yolk showing).

Serve with a heated flour tortilla (to scoop up sauce, optional) and refried beans. Add tortilla chips if desired. You can garnish the dish with grated Cotija cheese and cilantro.

Bon Apetite!

Smoked Salmon in Cornmeal Crepes

I got this crepe recipe from a cooknook called Santa Fe Recipes. The original used smoked trout and a cooked salsa, and I have made many variations from that starting point.  I almost always have smoked salmon in the freezer, and that is my favorite filling. But you can use almost any smoked fish. I’ve used several species of salmon, rainbow trout, steelhead, and a red trout we used to be able to get in New Mexico but haven’t seen since. I know smoked herring is popular in northern Europe )or at least some areas of it), but I’m not sure if that would work here. I can’t get herring to try it.

You can also use pretty much any salsa you like. I would stick with a tomatoe based one though – I most often use a fresh tomato salsa or pico de gallo. I will also include a recipe for that.

smoked_salmon_scaled_5Div3006

Start with the fish.  This photo shows some salmon filets on my smoker grill, at the point they are about done. In the foreground are some coho filets, and the background are pink salmon.  These are from a fishing trip this summer out of Seward, Alaska. If you can’t do this, store-bought is fine. But PLEASE DO NOT use farmed salmon. It is very loaded with PCBs, and fish farming is not normally environmentally friendly.  Alaskan salmon is sustainably fished, as a general rule. But it is seasonal. Get it when you can, smoke it, and vacuum seal it and freeze it.

Please note that this is hot smoked salmon, which is NOT the same as lox, or what you find in those expensive flat packages of what looks like raw salmon in the store. That is a cold smoked and salt cured product. I love that stuff as well, but it will not work in this dish.

 

smoked_salmon_2_scaled_5Div3007

 

Crepes

  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (2% is fine, whole is better)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (canola is fine, it’s what I use)

Notes: For this you will ideally have a crepe pan (carbon steel, well seasoned), but an 8 inch nonstick skillet will also work. The original recipe calls for medium eggs, but I usually only have large. So I just pad the amount of cornmeal slightly. For the oil, use whatever you normally use for cooking, although I would avoid olive oil for this (its flavor may be too strong).

Place the cornmeal and flour in a medium bowl and mix. Add the two eggs and mix them in. Add the butter and salt and mix. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes to rest.

Place the oil in the pan and heat on low until pan and oil are warm. Pour out the oil and wipe with a paper towel so that there is a thin film of oil. left. Pour in two tablespoons of batter and roll the pan to spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Cook for about a minute and then flip. Cook second side for about 45 seconds and plate on a warm plate. The crepes should have a light brown speckle to them when properly done. Be careful not to overcook. After each crepe make sure there is a film of oil on the pan, and wipe on more as needed.

Salsa

  • 4 – 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 white or yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 – 6 large green chiles, roasted and peeled (and diced)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (leave out the stems)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste
  • splash of lemon or lime juice

The proportion of tomatoes to onion is not critical, but most people will prefer about a 2:1 ratio (2 cups tomato to 1 cup onion, for example). I just look at the piles on the cutting board and estimate.  You can adjust the amount of cilantro to taste as well. For me, the more the merrier. For chiles, fresh is best, if you can get them. Just roast over a grill, or under the broiler until they are well blistered, let cool, and peel., Then chop up. For large chiles, roughly one per tomato is a good place to start, but you can use slightly less if you prefer. If you can’t find gresh, use canned, but try to rinse out the chemical taste. In some place you may only find those little cans of diced chiles. For those, use two or three. A variation would be to substitute diced jalapeno chiles for the green chile. In this case you might want to also leave out the cumin. This form of salsa is called pico de gallo. Some grocery stores sell this in plastic tubs.

The photo of the crepes above actually shows them topped with pico de gallo rather than salsa (it was what I had at the time).

Once everything is chopped and diced, just toss it together in a large bowl and refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors blend.

Plating

Take a crepe and place some smoked salmon in the center. Optionally place a bit of salsa as well. Fold over and top with salsa or pico de gallo. Enjoy. These make nice appetizers, or several can be eaten as a main course.

 

Anasazi Bean Soup

Anasazi Beans are ancient relatives of the Pinto bean, and have been grown in the four corners area (where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexixo meet) since around 130 A.D. The taste is slightly sweet and nutty. I think they are far superior to pinto beans. The color when raw is mottled white and purple. They can be found online and in many grocery stores.

This recipe is flavored with southwestern seasonings. I like to make it as a hearty soup, But if you leave out the meat you can also use some of it for refried beans.

full_of_beans_scaled_5Div1494

Recipe

  • 1 lb bag of Anasazi beans
  • 7 cups water (see procedure)
  • 2 tsp ground hot New Mexico red chile
  • 1 tsp ground pasilla or ancho chile (see notes)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 TBS garlic powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 large white or yellow onion
  • 1 TBS salt (to taste)
  • 8 oz (approximately) smoked sausage (optional)

Notes

This recipe assumes a thick soup. You can vary the water amount to make it the consistency you desire. I’ve specified a total of one tablespoon of ground red chile. you can use whatever you like for this. If you can find Chimayo that would be my favorite. But what I can get here is generic New Mexico (hot or mild), ancho, and pasilla negro (all from savoryspice.com). If your grocer carries it you can sometimes find “California” chile, which is the dried red Annaheim, and will work well for a mild heat level. Just please do not use “chilli powder” out of the standard spice section. It has many other spices mixed in and you have no idea what you’re putting in the dish.

The meat is optional but adds a huge amount of flavor into the dish. For this batch I used some home smoked Andouille, but anything that has a nice smokey flavor will work. Some people use a smoked ham hock for a dish like this, but I prefer something I can eat as part of the soup.

Procedure

Rinse the beans in a strainer and place in a large dutch oven (cast iron – plain or ceramic). Cover with 4  cups of water and bring to a boil. While that is coming to a boil dice up the half onion and gather the other spices. Once the beans are boiling add the onions and all the spices except the salt. Again, do NOT salt the beans at this point – it will make the skins tough and undigestible.  Reduce heat and stir to get everything mixed in well, and let it come back to a simmer. Simmer, covered for 1 1/2 hours (stirring occasionaly). Add the meat and some salt at around the 1 hour mark. taste after about 15 more minute and add salt as needed. Keep in mind that the sausage will have a fair amount of salt that will leach into the beans, so tread carefully to avoid oversalting.

These should take roughly 1 1/2 hours to cook, but it depends on how hard they have simmered and how soft you like them. I’ve shown these topped with some diced onion, or you can top with cilantro. This is a very healthy meal, especially if you omit the meat. Enjoy.