Thursday, March 25, 2010

Achiote Pork Tacos with Pickled Onions, Guacamole and Three Salsas

We eat these tacos standing at the kitchen island.  We grab one of the little 4"corn tortillas that have been steaming in the oven and circle the island piling on the fillings.  Pausing long enough to devour these tasty morsels, we do it all over again.

The recipes for the fillings are from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday .  The Achiote Pork couldn't be simpler to make.  Line a slow cooker with banana leaves if you have them; add some pork shoulder; add a sliced white onion; drizzle over the top 1/2 package achiote paste mashed in 1/2 cup lime juice and 2 teaspoons salt; add 1/2 cup water; fold over the banana leaves, cover and cook on high for 6 hours.  The result is fork tender pork intensely flavored by the achiote and lime.

The other fillings included pickled onions, guacamole and three salsas: Roasted Fresh Chile, Roasted Tomatillo and Toasty Guajillo.  My favorite salsa is whichever I had on my last taco...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Crispy Flattened Chicken Breasts with Polenta and Brussels Sprouts

It's going to take awhile to get to last night's dinner... Thick-cut pork loin chops were on sale at the local market, so on Monday, I bought some to brine (I leave them in the brine for 3 days) and grill. But I was out of the Rich Pork Stock that I like to serve with the chops. The base for the Rich Pork Stock is Chicken Stock, so on Tuesday, I bought a whole chicken, pig's feet and some bone-in pork shoulder. I removed the chicken breasts from the chicken before cooking the stock and stuffed some sage leaves and sliced garlic under the breast skin before salting and refrigerating them. So yesterday, while cooking the Rich Pork Stock, I was thinking about what I would serve with the chicken breasts. I figured I would kill two birds (so to speak) with one stone and make some polenta, the leftovers with which I could chill, slice, roast and serve with the pork chops tonight. The idea for the Flattened Chicken Breasts came from Mark Peel's New Classic Family Dinners.  Nothing too complicated here...

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat, add some olive oil.  Heat until almost smoking.  Add the breasts skin side down.  Turn the heat to medium-low.  Place a smaller cast iron skillet on top of the breasts.  Cook 12-15 minutes until the skin is very crispy.  Remove the smaller cast iron skillet and turn the breasts over.  Cook another 5 minutes or so uncovered.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

I made a simple pan sauce by pouring of the fat from the skillet and deglazing the pan with some of my Chicken Stock from above.

The chicken was perfect.  Moist and nicely flavored with the sage and garlic.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Alaskan Cod with Leeks, Potatoes and Thyme

Another recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. The recipe called for sea bass, black bass or turbot, but I only had Costco Alaskan Cod in the freezer. The dish was really good. It was essentially oven roasted fish fillets in a very dry potato leek soup.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pizza with Artichokes, Pancetta, Stewed Garlic and Parmesan

We had Chez Panisse style Crostatas the night before last, so we had leftover pizza dough.  Last night I trimmed a couple of artichokes down to their hearts and sliced them.  I then blanched them for about a minute then shocked them in cold water and dried them on paper towels.  I stewed up a heads worth of cloves of garlic in olive oil and peeled them.  I diced up a couple of ounces of Pancetta and grated some parmesan.  The pizzas were topped with a few slices of artichoke, a few cloves of garlic and dotted with the diced pancetta.  The parmesan was added when the pizzas were half done.  Tasty stuff.