Monday, May 17, 2010
Rick Bayless is my imaginary BFF - Cochinita Pibil dinner
It is another Sunday and we want to cook. I have many cookbooks in the house but I always seem to be drawn to two of my favorites. I would have to say that my cooking idol (the person that I most would want to cook with and learn from) is Paula Wolfert. Her cooking is diverse and I have never been disappointed with anything of hers that I have made (big statement there). My other favorite for a fun day of cooking and never fail happiness is Rick Bayless. This Sunday we went with Rick. I figured it was a great excuse to drink some mighty fine margaritas. So, of course Dr. Food was up for this dinner. As a matter of fact, he picked the recipes and I must say that they were fantastic.
We started off by deciding on the Slow-Cooked Achiote Pork (cooked in Banana leaves). It is called Cochinita Pibil. It is from "Mexican Everyday" which really isn't my favorite because I usually like a bigger challenge but this looked so good we had to go with it.
Our only problemo is that the Achiote that we had looked like it had been unearthed from a time capsule. So, we pulled out a cookbook by Zarela Martinez and found a recipe to make our own. It was well worth it.
It started off with toasting Achiote in a LITTLE bit of lard (shut up, lard is ok when it is a tiny bit).
It then soaks in orange juice for a few hours or overnight. Some of the seasonings are toasted and then the whole thing is pulverized into a paste.
We then started the pork dish. The recipe says that you can use a slow cooker but we went with the oven option. We lined a pot with the banana leaves.
We then poured the marinade over the pork. A thing of beauty.
Onions are dumped on top
Banana leaves are folded down roughly over the pork.
Meanwhile Dr Food made a pot of beans. Another Rick Bayless recipe that is wonderful.
About 4 hours later the fun began...
I put on a little music.
Dr. Food whipped up some margaritas (oooh boy).
and more cooking started. We decided to make Zarela Martinez's Calabacitas con Queso (Zucchini with Cheese). All I can say is YUM. This is a new favorite.
Some Poblano Chiles were roasted.
Corn and tomatoes and onions and zucchini cooked. Don't worry the recipes for this stuff will follow.
I marinated some onions for the Pork. Meanwhile the unveiling!
This dinner was one that we will certainly make again. We couldn't think of anyone that would have wanted to share it with us so the two of us had another margarita and devoured it ourselves. Now we will have Leftovers! I think we may make tamales out of the leftover pork.
Pasta De Achiote (Achiote Paste)
Adapted from Zarela Martinez - Food from My Heart
2 Tbsp. Lard or vegetable oil
1 c. Achiote
3 c. Fresh orange juice, heated, or possibly boiling water
1 Tbsp. Cumin seeds
1 tsp Black pepper corns
1 Tbsp. Dry Mexican oregano
4 lrg Garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tsp Salt, or possibly to taste
1. Heat the lard or oil in a small or medium size skillet over medium-high heat till almost smoking.
2. Add in the achiote and saute shaking the pan constantly, for 5 min.
3. Place the achiote in a heatproof bowl and cover with the orange juice.
4. Let soak overnight in the refrigerator or at least 3 to 4 hrs at room temperature. All the liquid should be absorbed and the seeds should be somewhat softened.
5. Heat a small, heavy skillet or over high heat till a drop of water sizzles on contact. Add in the cumin seeds and toast, shaking the pan frequently, till fragrant. Set the toasted seeds aside.
6. Toast the peppercorns in the same manner and set aside.
7. Toast the oregano and set aside. Work carefully while toasting the spices so which they don't scorchscorch; remove them from the pan as soon as their fragrance is released, 1 to 2 min.
8. In the same skillet, roast the garlic cloves over high heat, turning several times, till dark on all sides and somewhat softened, 5 - 10 min. Peel the garlic and set aside with the spices.
9. Place the soaked achiote, salt and spices in a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Grind thoroughly with a pulse motion, adding more water or orange juice, if necessary. Work in batches, if necessary.
The mix should be a smooth paste. Chill till ready to use.
Can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator several weeks, or possibly indefinitely in small containers in the freezer.
YIELD: about 3C
Slow Cooked Achiote Pork (Cochinita Pibil)
adapted from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday
Half a 3.5 ounce package achiote seasoning (We used about half of the paste that we made from the recipe above)
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (divided use)
1 3-pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
1 large white onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1about 1/2 cup roasted fresh chile salsa
or bottled habanero hot sauce (such as Yucateco and Frontera brands)
1. Place the achiote paste in a small bowl. Pour in 1/2 cup of the lime juice and 2 teaspoons salt. Then use the back of a spoon to work the mixture into a smooth, thickish marinade.
2. If you have the banana leaves, cut two 2-foot sections and use them to line a large (6 to 8 quart; at least 12 inch diameter) heavy pot, preferably a dutch oven, (or a crockpot).
3. Place the pork and pour the marinade over and around the roast. Scatter the white onion over the meat, dribbling the water around the meat. Fold up the banana leaves (if using) to roughly cover everything).
4. Set the lid in place and braise in a 300 degree oven for about 2-1/2 hours to 3 hours until the pork is "fall off the bone" tender. If using the crockpot slow cook on high for 6 hours.
5. While the meat is cooking, combine the red onion with the remaining 1/4 cup lime juice in a small bowl. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss and set aside to marinate, stirring from time to time.
6. Use tongs to transfer the meat (it will easily break into delicious-looking pieces) and onions to dinner plates. Spoon off any rendered fat that's floating in the juices. If there is a lot of brothy sauce -- 2 cups or more -- boil it down to about 1 cup to concentrate the flavors. Taste the sauce and season with salt if you think it needs it, then spoon it over the meat. Top with the lime-marinated red onions, and serve with the salsa or hot sauce -- and plenty of hot tortillas, if that appeals.
Calabacitas con Queso (Zucchini with Cheese)
Adapted from Zarela Martinez - Food from My Heart
1 1/2 lb Zucchini, unpeeled -- cut in 1/4" cubes
1 C Water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tb Vegetable oil
1 lg Garlic clove
1 C Finely chopped onion
3/4 lb Chopped tomato
2 C Corn kernels
2 Poblano peppers -- peeled and chopped
5 oz Evaporated milk or 1/3 C heavy cream
1/2 lb Sharp cheddar cheese, finely diced (about 2 C)
1. Place diced zucchini in medium saucepan with water, season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, overmedium heat until slightly tender but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Set aside without draining.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat until hot but not quite smoking. Reduce heat slightly; add garlic and onion and cook,stirring, until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes.
3. Stir in tomato and cook until liquid is partly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in corn and poblanos and simmer 5 minutes.
5. Add undrained zucchini and cream to corn-chili mixture andbring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat to low, stir in diced cheese and cook until the cheese melts.
Serve hot (from 4 to 6 people).