Posts tagged ‘Tomatoes’

May 9, 2012

Smoky Pulled Pork Tacos & Slaw

I lived in Georgia for a few years, back in the mid-90’s. Transferred for work, we packed up all our things and made the long drive down to start what I call, the Southern era of my life. Very different from life in the north, life in Georgia lacked good pizza, the Chinese food was terrible and bagels were a mere shadow of the ones we were used to. Maybe things have changed since then. Yes, I actually do analyze the many ups and downs in my life by the food that I’ve experienced. Dysfunctional? Maybe. But I like to think that the mental diary of meals I keep, stored next to the 80’s song lyrics in my brain, will one day be worth something.

I have many fond food memories from down south. I can recall dinner at this hole-in-the-wall joint known for the best fried chicken and catfish in Georgia. I swore there was a creek that ran through the back of the restaurant, with some guy catching the catfish, only to have them hit the deep-fry seconds after being caught. This was the real deal, and so good.

In Georgia, I ate my first hush puppy, had my first bowl of Brunswick Stew, enjoyed a real buttered biscuit with the grease proudly dripping down my sleeves and fell in love with BBQ. I have never tried smoking meats and my BBQ abilities are limited to my backyard Weber grill. I can’t put a finger on what inspired me to make this pulled pork, but it’s always been one of my favorites (see My Infatuation with the Pig). After a little research, I came up with this recipe. No smoker required. It took under 3 hours and we ate it Mexican style, in warm corn tortillas. For my next trick, I will make this again with Southern BBQ flavors. For now, I consider this a successful mission accomplished. Perfect for a crowd, this makes a lot of pulled pork. I’ll guess it makes tacos for 8, possibly more.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PULLED PORK

  • 5lb boneless pork shoulder cut into big 3″ hunks
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp Kosher salt
  • Generous amount of fresh ground pepper
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 – 15oz can chicken stock
  • 1 – 15oz tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of good beer
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (use more if you want it really spicy)
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce (from the can of chipotles)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 large navel orange
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Canola oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the oregano, chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Season the pork all over with the rub.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add a little canola oil to the bottom of the pan. Add the pork pieces, working in batches and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Saute the onion till translucent, add the garlic and stir for one minute until fragrant. Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, beer, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, honey, bay leaves, orange and lime juice, scrapping up any brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste. Bring to a hard simmer and add the pork back to the pan. Spoon the sauce over all the meat. Cover the pot and place in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

After the pork is done, remove the pot from the oven and take the meat out, placing it in a large bowl. Put the pot on the stove on medium-low heat. Simmer the sauce until it reduces slightly. While the sauce is cooking, using 2 forks, shred the pork. Add the pork back to the pot with the sauce and stir together so all the meat is coated.

Serve with warm corn tortillas, cilantro slaw and a squeeze of fresh lime. Leftovers can be served on soft rolls as pulled pork sandwiches too.

Tender pulled pork in 2hrs is a dream. Cooking the meat in large pieces, rather than a whole roast, really quickens the roasting time. I know that true BBQ enthusiasts would poo-poo this recipe, but the reality is most of us don’t have the time to slow roast anything for the hours they suggest. This is a very respectable cheat. 

INGREDIENTS FOR CILANTRO SLAW

Adapted from The Neelys

  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 16oz package pre-shredded cabbage (it usually says cole slaw mix)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • Couple of handfuls shredded carrots (I buy the pre-shredded carrots in a small bag)
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Combine the vinegar, lime juice, canola oil and sugar in a bowl and whisk together. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the pulled pork tacos. I think this is best when you let it sit for a while before serving. Make it when the pork goes into the oven and then place it in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.

February 26, 2012

Braised Huntsmen-Style Chicken

Braised Huntsmen-Style Chicken

The word cacciatora means “huntsmen-style,” in Italian. According to Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari from the show Parks and Recreation, cacciatore is called “chickie catch.”  Chef Todd English explains the original chicken cacciatore did not have tomatoes, but used only vinegar or wine, resulting in a darker sauce. Bobby Flay adds jalapeño, Emeril uses cremini mushrooms and only chicken thighs, and The Pioneer Woman uses turmeric and egg noodles. I suspect as long as the dish includes some combination of chicken, peppers, mushrooms, garlic and onions, everyone is headed in the right direction.

For me, chicken cacciatore is the perfect hearty dish on a chilly night. I load mine up with lots of colorful bell peppers, diced pancetta and hot cherry peppers. The pancetta adds a deeper, rich flavor, and the hot cherry peppers give it a major kick – we love that heat! It’s fun to peek around on the internet and see the different versions of cacciatore making their appearance online. We really enjoyed this 4plates2table huntsmen-style chicken. Don’t be alarmed by the long list of ingredients. This dish is easy to make and leftovers are super delicious, too.

INGREDIENTS (serves about 6)

  • 3lbs bone-in chicken (combination of breasts and thighs)
  • 1/3lb pancetta, diced (ask the deli to slice 3 – 1/4 inch slices)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced into half moons
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 16oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 – 28oz can diced tomatoes, partially drained
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1-2 tbsp jarred hot cherry peppers, chopped (more if you like it hot)
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • Few sprigs fresh thyme, bundled
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • Wondra flour for dusting the chicken

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Dust with Wondra flour or regular flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan (6qt) over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Brown the chicken about 3-4 minutes per side and remove from the pan, set aside. Don’t overcrowd the pan, work in batches if necessary.

Add the diced pancetta to the same pan and sauté until it begins to crisp, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions and peppers and sauté until they begin to soften. Add in the mushrooms and sauté until they release their juices, scraping up the brown bits in the bottom of the pan as you go. Add the garlic, cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the hot cherry peppers, capers, wine and tomatoes. Stir well to combine.

Nestle the chicken pieces back into the pan. Toss in the crisp pancetta, thyme bundle, and chopped oregano. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with grated parmesan on the side.

* This would be delicious served over pasta, polenta or with just a rustic baguette on the side.

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