Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Eats

Someone (Sha, I think) asked for recipes. OK, here's what I cook a lot of:

Crock Cooked Beans for Two

Start at 8:00 PM. Take a cup of dry beans of some pinto-ish variety (pintos, anasazis, something mottled, you get the picture). Rinse and soak until the next night.

At 8:00 PM the next day, pour yourself a glass of Two-Buck Chuck from Traders or pop open a bottle of beer you bought on sale at the IGA. Miller's good. Drink as you cook. Also have a spousal unit, congenial family member, a friend or two, and/or whomever is in the house come and hang out. Give 'em a beer. Make 'em chop stuff.

Drain and rinse beans and put into a medium or bigger crock pot. Pour in liquid to cover and turn on "High". Chicken stock is good, water is good. Add a splash of wine or beer if you like, right from the glass/bottle, but not too much.

Take a sausage, whatever kind you like (I like Louisiana hotlinks or spicy Portuguese linguica best), slice it into 1/4 thick rounds and pan fry on medium heat until browned and the fat is rendered. Put sausage in crock. Do not drain fat from pan unless really excessive.

Chop up a whole bunch of garlic cloves, as many as you like. I usually add about 6 cloves. If you have some bell peppers in the fridge that need using, chop them too, but not more than two. Chop up a big yellow onion (sorry VL, I *love* onions). Toss these into the pan with the sausage fat and cook on low to medium heat until they soften and the onion begins to change color.

Chop up all the old tomatoes you have sitting around and throw them in the pan. I usually have three to five in the vicinity. Or use a can of tomatoes, whatever size and chopped/unchopped status is on hand. Do you have some tomato paste that needs using? Spoon in some, maybe a tablespoon or two. Add two or three whole chipotle peppers, being sure to get a good spoon of the adobo sauce.

While that simmers, mix spices. Here's what I did tonight: 1 tsp coriander, 1 tblsp cumin, all the chili powder left at the bottom of the jar (about 1/2 tsp), 1 tsp pasilla chili powder, 1 tsp new mexico chili powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1+ tblsp dried oregano. Toss spice mix on top of vegetables and stir to incorporate. If stuff is sticking, add a little water or a splash of whatever you're drinking, but only enough to control sticking.

As soon as spices are mixed, dump into crock. Use a little liquid to loosen up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan and put that in, too. Stir to mix ingredients.

Cook overnight. If you have a really good crock pot, cook on low. If you have a crappy crock pot, cook on high. It just needs to be hot enough to gently bubble all night.

In the morning, turn off crock, lift crock out of cradle (if your's works like that) and/or let it sit with the lid off while you get ready for work. I don't like putting the crock into the fridge, so I pour the mixture into a different bowl, put that in the fridge and soak the crock so stuff doesn't stick all day. The mixture may be dry across the top, so be sure to stir the dry stuff down into the wet stuff.

When you get home from work, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit. Ladle out what you're going to eat that night and warm it up on the stove or in the microwave. Add salt as desired. Serve with whatever starch accompaniment you like best (rice, potatoes, tortillas, corn bread, etc.) or have on hand to make the proteins complete. If you want to get fancy, add some sour cream, avocados, tomatoes, diced peppers, green onions, stray vegetables from the back of the crisper you need to use, etc. as condiments.

Should be enough left over for lunch a few days later.

The chipotles are expensive per can, but a little goes a long way and they keep forever in the fridge. The sausage doesn't have to be great, it just has to be strong flavored. It's best if it is pork, but follow your dietary/religious bliss. The rest is cheap and crock pots are very fuel efficient cookers. Double or triple recipe as desired. Scale chili heat up or down according to your taste.


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