Santa Fe Hot Pot

Human occupation of New Mexico stretches back at least 11,000 years to the Clovis culture of hunter-gatherers, who left evidence of their campsites and stone tools. After the invention of agriculture the land was inhabited by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples who built houses out of stone or adobe bricks. They experienced a Golden Age around AD 1000 but climate change led to migration and cultural evolution into the modern Pueblo peoples who lived primarily along the few major rivers of the region. (Wikipedia)

A contemporary New Mexican-style pork stew with dried beans, toasted chilies, onions, peppers, onions and sweet potatoes with cinnamon, cloves, green garlic, cumin and corn flour..

Santa Fe Hot Pot

Serves 2

1/3 cup mixed dried heirloom beans such as yellow Indian woman, tepary, pinquito & black
4 cups chicken stock, divided
1/2 pound braised feral hog (substitute leftover pork belly or pork shoulder roast), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons leaf lard (substitute bacon grease)
1/4 cup mild chili powder
2 dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground cloves
1 large tomatillo, husked, rinsed and chopped
2 red Fresno chilies, sliced
1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
1/4 cup poblano pepper, chopped
1 bulb green garlic, including leaves, chopped
1/3 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon smoked black pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon corn flour (not corn meal)
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Rinse, pick over and soak a variety of dried beans overnight. Place in a pot with 2 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.

Heat lard in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add diced sweet potatoes and cook until browned along the edges and somewhat tender.  Add onions, fresh and dried chilies, peppers and green garlic and sauté until softened.

Add tomatillo, pork, beans, stock, pork, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon and cloves, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Add corn flour, stir and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and serve with wedges of lime and corn chips or cornbread.

This post is part of the Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday!

Pork Stew with Chipotle and Plantains

Smokey braised pork with peppers, onions, piloncillo and plantains..

Chipotle Banana Pork Stew

Pork Stew with Chipotle and Plantains

Trim pork shoulder, removing any heavy fat.  Cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks, arrange on a foil-lined baking tray and broil, turning once, until golden brown.  Some pieces will be crisp, others less so.  This is a good thing.

Transfer meat to a Dutch oven and add minced fresh garlic, diced fresh peppers, red and/or yellow onions, sliced ripe plantains and 1-2 diced  chipotle peppers with 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce.

Season with a little toasted cumin, a pinch of Mexican oregano and just enough shaved piloncillo (a traditional, unrefined sugar common to Central and South America) to balance the heat of the peppers.

Add enough dark beer (preferably a Munich-style beer such as Negra Modelo) to almost cover the contents of the pot.  Cover tightly and braise in a 300 degree oven until fork-tender, about 2 1/2 hours.

Serve with fresh tortillas.

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Pozole Roja with Cornsticks

Pozole Roja is a traditional pre-Colombian stew, adopted as the local cuisine of Guerrero, Mexico. In the US state of New Mexico, pozole (from Spanish pozole, from Nahuatl potzolli) is traditionally served on Christmas Eve to celebrate life’s blessings.

While it looks a little complicated, it really isn’t hard.  As long as you have “mise en place” (everything in place) before starting, you’ll get through this fine, and be justly rewarded in the end.

Pork shoulder, dried ancho and guajillo chiles, garlic, achiote seeds, dark chocolate with chipotle, cinnamon and cocoa nibs, crema (think of Mexican crème fraîche), fresh cilantro, fresh mint, key limes, Spanish onion, Mexican oregano, olive oil, peppercorns and nixtamal (white corn/hominy).

Start by toasting the achiote seeds in a hot, dry skillet until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add good olive oil and infuse over low heat for about 20 minutes. Strain the resulting annatto oil through a coffee filter placed inside a funnel.  Stored in a cool, dark place, annatto oil will keep indefinitely.

Trim the excess fat from the pork, but leave a little intact. In a Dutch oven, sear the pork in a little of the annatto oil.  Add onions, garlic and oregano and cook another 5 minutes.

Add water (or stock, if you prefer) to cover, cilantro and mint (I’ve stuffed the herbs into a cheesecloth bag for easy removal) and S&P. Simmer until pork is fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Split the chilies and remove the stems and seeds. Place on a flat skillet and weight for about 20 seconds. Flip and repeat.

Transfer the toasted chilies to a bowl, cover with boiling water and let stand until soft, about 1/2 hour.

Gather up the ingredients for cornbread.  Coarse-ground yellow cornmeal, all-purpose flour, milk, baking powder, butter, egg, chiles and salt.

Lightly toast the cornmeal on a dry skillet to bring out the flavor, then add it to the bowl with the other ingredients (I’ve added a little shredded cheddar cheese). Mix until just combined, about 1 minute.  Do not over mix.

Blend the re-hydrated chiles with 1/2 of its soaking water until smooth. Transfer to pan and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the hominy and simmer another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the cornbread mix into a pre-heated iron cornstick pan (or muffin tins or 8×8 glass baking dish) and bake at 450 degrees until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Serve in a bowl garnished with crema, chopped mint and cilantro, and shaved chocolate.

Weeknight Meatloaf

This just seems right on a cool fall evening.

Fresh beef and pork, about 3/4lb of each, onion, garlic, hot pepper paste (optional), unsulphered blackstrap molasses, Worcestershire,  strained tomatoes, milk, thyme, S & P, egg, apple cider vinegar and a large sandwich roll.

Start by coarsely grinding the well-chilled meat into a glass bowl. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, S & P, Worcestershire and egg. Mix by hand until ingredients are dispersed, but take care not to over-mix.

Moisten the lightly toasted, shredded bread with a little milk and fold into the meat mixture.

If you are unsure of the seasoning, just fry a little sample to taste and adjust as you see fit.

Make the glaze by cooking the tomatoes, molasses, Worcestershire, vinegar and pepper paste together until thick and deep mahogany colored, about 5 minutes.

Put the meat mixture into a perforated loaf pan and cover with the glaze (I’m also going to roast a yellow potato and some greens beans). Cook in a 350 degree oven until the meatloaf reaches 160 degrees (about 1 hour and 20 minutes).  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Fresh-made Sausage

All I wanted was a little fresh Italian sausage, so I went to the market to take a number to stand in line to pay an outrageous sum of $4 a pound.

Hold on. Did I just see sugar in the list of ingredients? And sodium nitrite?!

While this chemical will prevent the growth of bacteria, it can be toxic for mammals. (LD50 in rats is 180 mg/kg.) For this reason, sodium nitrite sold as a food additive is dyed bright pink to avoid mistaking it for something else. Cooks and makers of charcuterie often simply refer to sodium nitrite as “pink salt”.

Various dangers of using this as a food additive have been suggested and researched by scientists. A principal concern is the formation of carcinogenic N-nitrosamines by the reaction of sodium nitrite with amino acids in the presence of heat in an acidic environment. Its usage is carefully regulated in the production of cured products; in the United States, the concentration in finished products is limited to 200 ppm, and is usually lower. In about 1970, it was found that the addition of ascorbic acid inhibited nitrosamine production. U.S. manufacturing of cured meats now requires the addition of 500 ppm of ascorbic acid or erythorbic acid, a cheaper isomer. Sodium nitrite has also been linked to triggering migraines.

Time to make my own sausage, the way I like it, with lots of Not Sugar and extra No Preservatives!

Talk to your butcher. Ask her for some nice, fresh, boneless pork. Trim any excess fat and membrane, and push the cold pork through your grinder. Add seasoning if you wish, but do grind it a second time.

Leftover sausage deteriorates quickly, so if you’re not going to use it within 2 days, store it frozen, pressed flat in a zipper bag.