Archive for February, 2011

Pozole Verde

Posted on February 22, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Apparently, I like to attend schools that include children’s activities as part of the curriculum. In drama school we played many different versions of tag. Now that I’m working on a master’s degree in Food Studies, it’s show & tell. Don’t knock it, friends. Children’s activities are awesome. Tag is superduperfun, and when you become the champion of a game called “Name Tag,” you feel all warm and special.

Our Food Studies “show and tell” activities are pretty amazing. Last semester, we had to bring in a food that was important to our culinary identity; I cooked a matzo ball soup. This semester, we were given the task to explore part of the culinary landscape of a particular geographic area. I was assigned Latin America, and chose to make pozole.

Pozole is a pork and hominy stew that originated in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. Some people claim that the stew dates back to the pre-Colombian era, though it would have to have been made without pork then, since the pig emigrated to the Americas with the Spanish.

Adapted from a recipe from Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking. Kennedy credits Senora Carmen Villa for development of the recipe.

½ Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
2 Cups Tomatillo, hulled, rinsed, and quartered
2 Cups Water
10 Sorrel Leaves, rinsed and stems removed
2 Tablespoons Oil or Lard
½ Serrano Pepper, seeds removed
3 Cups Cooked Hominy Corn*
1 Rotisserie Chicken, shredded**
2 Tsp. Dried Epazote

For the Garnish:
Radishes, diced
Avocado, diced
Onion, diced
Jalapeño, diced
Cilantro, chopped

Begin by toasting pumpkin seeds in a frying pan over medium heat. Seeds will swell and pop. Toast until they just turn brown. Remove from pan and let cool. Once cool, grind to a powder in a spice/coffee grinder.

Cook tomatillo in a pan with ½ cup water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Most of the liquid should be absorbed. Transfer to a blender. Add sorrel, serrano pepper, and one cup of water. Blend until smooth.

Heat oil over medium-high heat, and add blended ingredients. Sauté for 5 minutes, and then add ground pumpkin seeds. Sauté for another 10 minutes.

Add hominy, chicken, epazote, and 4 cups water (or chicken stock). Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with garnish.

*For the Hominy: You can buy cans of hominy, and use them. Kennedy recommends making the corn from scratch. This is actually super time consuming, and will require you to source ingredients that might not be easily found. However, the result is worth it; homemade hominy is leaps and bound better than the canned stuff. If you want to do that, here’s what you do:

Start with 1½ cups of dried white corn. Rinse well with cold water. Cover with water, and let soak overnight. Drain. Add soaked corn and 1½ teaspoons powdered lime (calcium oxide) to a pot, and cover with 2 inches of water. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool. Drain, and rinse thoroughly. Then rinse again. Rub kernels with hands until skins are removed from corn kernels. Return to pot, add ½ onion and 2 cloves garlic. Cover with about 3 inches of water, and boil until cooked through, about 2 hours.

**I used rotisserie chicken instead of pork because I was feeling pretty lazy after making the hominy. It was a good call.

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Lazy Potato Makes Me Mad

Posted on February 9, 2011. Filed under: hodgepodge, rant, review, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Sometimes I see things at the grocery store that make me mad. Alright, pretty much every time I go to the SuperDuperHyperMart I see something that makes me mad. Today it was potatoes.

Clever potato marketers have decided that we are so lazy or stupid we can’t bake a potato without help. If you’re so inclined, there are two items for sale that will (theoretically) make your potato baking endeavors ever so less taxing. Because potato baking is real tough stuff. Life sure is hard in America.

The first one is a “double washed for your convenience” potato wrapped in very shiny gold foil. Oh! Pretty! Saves so much time! You don’t have to wash your potato! Or perform any heavy lifting by wrapping it in foil! Hooray! Pretty! Sadly, all is not happy happy in the world of the super shiny potato. You have to remove the label that tells you how wonderful the potato is. Oooops. That’s as hard as washing a potato, and I thought I was buying the potato so that I didn’t have to go through the very troubling effort of getting my hands wet for 20 seconds. Also, this special potato takes just as long to bake as a potato that hasn’t been pre-wrapped for me. I still have to plan a whole 50 minutes in advance if I want a potato?! Holy hell, potato marketer, who do you think I am?

Good thing I can get a microwave ready potato. Sure, it’s only been washed one time. But hey, I still don’t have to get my hands wet. That would really suck. I don’t have to go through all the horrible trouble of removing a label. That’s good, removing labels is challenging. And it’s ready in 7 minutes. Life is looking up. Sure, I’m microwaving a potato unnecessarily wrapped in plastic, but I don’t care about my health, I care about having my potato as quick as I can.

Why is it that marketers constantly have to pretend to innovate while they’re actually doing nothing special except charging us an extra 20-30 cents per pound? I spent a fair amount of time thinking about value-added products, and these products certainly don’t add any value. Opposite. Shiny foil and microwave plastic put a physical and psychological barrier between us and our food. It’s sad, really. Baking a potato isn’t a chore, and it shouldn’t be looked at like it is. Baking a potato is one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen. We don’t need pre-packaged potatoes. Just like an apple or a banana, potatoes already come individually wrapped. Plus a potato baked without all the silly bells & whistles shiny plastic wrap tastes better. Happy happy.

To bake a potato:
Heat oven to 425F
Rinse potato, dry it, and prick it a few times with a fork. (You can rub a little oil on the outside if you like, but I don’t.)
Put potato in oven.
Cook for 45 min – 1 hour. (Skin will be crisp, and you should be able to easily pass a fork through center.)
If you’re really super pressed for time, you can microwave a potato for 7-8 minutes. The skin won’t be all crispy and delicious, but it’s still tasty. No creepy plastic wrapping necessary.

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