Archive for January, 2012
So, I went grocery shopping with the wife today. Not that I hate spending time with my wife, but I despise grocery stores. They’re great to buy food and junk, but the people… gah! Everyone is looking out for no one but themselves. Soccer moms. Crying kids in the cereal aisle. Old ladies. Yuppies. No one gives a flying flip that there are other people on the earth. Running into carts… dirty looks when (God forbid) you stop your cart in the aisle to get something off a shelf. It annoys me. So, to amuse myself, I got on my iPhone and wandered around the produce section while the wife got the lettuce, potatoes, banana, and all that… I looked up at just the right time and saw avocados on sale for $1 each. Bingo. Guacamole time.
Man, there are few things on this earth greater than fresh guacamole. I mean, seriously… nice, creamy, fresh, cool, crisp. It’s wonderful. And it’s healthy for you, too. Lots of good stuff in avocados (the main ingredient in guacamole) and there’s no added fats, oils, or sugars… aside form the pinch of salt, it’s all veggies, herbs, and fruit juice. That’s it. It’s a great mayonnaise substitute on sandwiches… great on burgers… lots of uses. And, of course, it goes wonderfully on salty tortilla chips.
Simple to make, too… all you need is:
One small lime
Three small avocados (because that’s what the grocery store had)
One jalapeno pepper
One small red onion
One handful of fresh cilantro leaves
Fresh ground black pepper
Mise en place… fancy French cooking term I learned on Top Chef that means “thing in place”, or “prep the ingredients” and get them ready to be used when it comes time to mix everything together. Mince the jalapeno. Because I’m a spicy food wuss, I deseeded the jalapeno and removed the placenta… yes, there’s a placenta in peppers… it’s the little whitish-green ribs that the seeds grow from on the inside. Finely chop one half of the small red onion. Finely chop the cilantro leaves. Set that all aside for a few minutes…
In a medium bowl, juice the lime… if you’re looking for the easiest way to juice a fresh lime, see below. Next comes the most dangerous part of the whole process… getting the guts out of an avocado. It’s easy, yes… but you have to mess around with a knife in a very precise way. It’s tricky. Don’t cut yourself. And, if you cut yourself, don’t blame me… knives are sharp… don’t be dumb. I’ll put a video clip of how to gut an avocado at the bottom of the page. If you don’t know how to do it already, go watch that video. Then, come back. I’ll wait. It’s ok. Empty the guts of the avocados into the bowl. the lime juice will keep them from oxidizing and turning brown.
To the bowl, add the prepared cilantro, onion, and jalapeno. Take a potato masher, and mash it all up. Get everyhting mixed up, and smooth out the guacamole.. but still leave tiny little avacado chunks. Next, sprinkle on a pinch of kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Use a spoon to stir it all up.. just to make sure everyhting is well mixed.
And that’s it… store it in the fridge in air tight container. Plop it on a ham sandwich… dollop on the burger… scoop it up with tortilla chips. Enjoy.
Juice a lime…
How to prep an avocado…
… cause it’s a real sausage fest!
Before we begin… I want to throw it out there that this post will probably contain the word “sausage” about thirty times. And the way I look at it, you could go two routes as you read this (if anyone even reads my posts?)… you could take the high road and keep your mind out of the gutter and not be immature. Or… you could accept that every time you read the word “sausage” you’re going to snicker… and you accept that about yourself. I know I’m going to snicker everytime I write the word “sausage”… in fact, since the post already contains the word “sausage” six times, so that makes for six times I’ve snickered. And I’m ok with that. By the way, I’m, not sure what to call this… Italian sausage? That makes it sound EVEN MORE dirty… like something from Jersey Shore. Sausage, peppers, and onions works, but that takes a long time to say. Who knows. I’ll just call it tonight’s dinner.
But anyway… this recipe is loosely based on a recipe from David Joachim’s “A Man, A Can, A Plan: 50 Great Meals Even You Can Make“. My mom got that book for me when I moved into my first apartment after college… I guess she didn’t have too much confidence in my cooking abilities… thanks, mom.
2 Green Peppers (cut into strips)
1 1/2 white onions (cut into pieces)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (10 oz) Rotel tomatoes and green chiles… I went with mild, but use whatever you want.
3/4 of a 64-oz bottle of V8
1 bottle of beer (I used a craft brewed Pilsner)
12 sweet Johnsonville Italian Sausages… use mild, or hot if you want.
1 tsp kohser salt
3 turns on the pepper mill
Combine all the ingredients, except the sausage, in your crock pot and stir until the tomato paste had dissolved and all the veggies and sauce is all stirred up. Place the sausages into the liquid, and set the crock pot on low. If you do it in the morning, before work, it’ll probably be done by the time you get home. Get your tongs and grab a sausage, slip it into a fresh sausage roll, slap on some of the peppers and onions and call it dinner.
So the wife and I are craving pulled pork, but I don’t feel like tending a smoker all day. It’s a Sunday. The playoffs are on. So… crock pot to the rescue! Sure it’s not the same as a pork shoulder that’s been smoking all day, but hey… slather some pork on a bun, plop some coleslaw on top and call me happy. I could see this working well during the work week for a crock pot meal when we get home. Word.
Got a pork butt from Wal-Mart (for as much I’m not on the Wal-Mart band wagon, they have a decent selection of pork butts and shoulders) and rinsed it and cut it in half… yielded probably two three-pound halves. The other half is going in the freezer until the smoker can be brought out of storage this spring.
Put the pork butt in the crock pot and cover with Dr. Pepper (or root beer, or ginger ale)… it took about 1 liter. I also threw in a 12 oz bottle of hefeweizen for good measure… but any lightly-hopped beer will work fine. I added 2 tsps of garlic powder, 2 tsps of seasoned salt, 1 tsp paprika, and 10(ish) grinds of black pepper. That’s it… slosh things around so the seasonings get mixed in with the liquid, and set the crock pot to cook all day. Might be a good idea to flip the shoulder half way.
Once the meat is super tender and cooked through, and the liquid has reduced, take the shoulder out and… ahem… pull the meat. Pull it. Have the wife help… it’ll be done more quickly. Shred it up. Use two forks… rip and shred. Optionally, you could skim the fat and boil the liquid to make some barbecue sauce (probably would want to add a little ketchup or tomato paste, and a squirt or scoop of your favorite mustard) … or just squirt on your favorite bbq sauce and call it a day. I like my sandwiches with a scoop of mayonnaise-based coleslaw on top. Some people like pickles. Some people like nothing but the sweet succulent pork… whatever tickles your pickle.