Chile Verde and Carnitas Egg Scramble

So, maybe you have some left over carnitas. What should you do with these fabulous pieces of perfectly wonderful pork? The first is a big hit at my house, Carnitas and Egg Scramble. It might sound a bit funny at first until you try it, but after you do I guarantee you will be sold. The second is a regional favorite. Green Chile, or Chile Verde is a dish from New Mexico. In the late summer at the farmers market trucks come in loaded with bushels of chiles, and there is the mighty roar of a gas fire. The chiles are placed in a big metal barrel and set over the flames. The person manning the contraption spins the barrel and roasts the chiles for you and then hands you a steaming bag of fresh roasted chiles. Which for me go right into freezer bags and into the freezer for when February seems like it may not ever end. So might I suggest two different options:

Carnitas and Egg Scramble

3 eggs
1 tbs milk
salt and pepper
carnitas
cream cheese

Heat butter in a pan, until melted. Meanwhile crack eggs into a bowl and whisk with milk until combined.

Pour into pan. Let sit until the bottom begins to set. Place carnitas and cream cheese on top and fold into the eggs. Scramble eggs until the cheese melts and the meat is heated through. Serve with with cilantro and optional corn torillas.

Green Chile (Chile Verde)

1 tbs oil
1 lb  carnitas
1 onion diced
1/2 lb of hatch chiles (might be found in the mexican area of your grocery store in cans if you can’t get fresh chile)
2 fresh tomatoes or 8 oz canned
2 cups chicken broth
4 water
1 tsp cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in dutch oven until hot. Add carnitas, onions and chiles. Cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, stir well.

2. Add chicken broth and water to meat and onions mixture.

3. Bring to a simmer, add 1 tsp cumin and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sour cream.

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

As a carefree and youthful recent college graduate, I packed a suitcase and lived in Mexico for two months. It was a wonderful experience and the memories I have of that time are vivd and intense. I chose to live in Merida in the Yucatan. Merida is not at all like  Mexico City, nor is it anything like its 4 hour-by-bus neighbor Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. It is a thriving city of about one million. It is a wonderful mixture or European, Mexican, Mayan and Arab influences. Part of my soul resides in Merida and with its people.

You can go to the most fabulous restaurants, but sometimes the best food is found on the street carts. Mexican cuisine is so much more  than the tex-mex you find at your local strip mall. Yucatecan food is earthy and complex, with a host of spices, possibly one of the most beautiful and interesting cuisines in the world. There was a cart near the central plaza that sold carnitas. Carnitas is braised pork that is served with its confit. Usually it is served in a bowl with an accompaniment of corn tortillas, cabbage, avocado or salsa.  Avocado trees grow in every back yard, so they are cheap and plentiful. The next time you feel like having Mexican, skip the overly sauced and cheesy food they serve around the corner and make a big batch of Carnitas. $15 will feed you for over 8 meals. This recipe should be made when you have the time, as it usually takes 3 hours start to finish.

Carnitas (adapted from Cook Illustrated)

  • Pork
  • 1(3 1/2-to 4-pound) boneless pork butt , fat cap trimmed to 1/8 inch thick, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small onion , peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
  • 2 cups water (or enough water to cover the pork
  • 2 hatch chiles, seeded and peeled (this is optional, I bought roasted chiles at the farmers market and they give another dimension)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (a must)
  • 1 medium orange , halved

Tortillas and Garnishes

  • 18(6-inch) corn tortillas , warmed (if you are going to use tortillas…look at the ingredients and choose the ones with the least amount of additives, or if you have a mexican market go get fresh ones)
  • Lime wedges
  • Minced white or red onion
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Thinly sliced cabbage
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about 1/3 cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.
  2. Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heatsafe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid. Add sugar.
  3. Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Place baking sheet on lower-middle rack and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, flip pieces of meat and continue to broil until top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Home-made Swedish Meatballs

I was perusing a blog that I look at occasionally and they had taken pictures of real frozen dinners, with the boxes.

This looks nothing like the picture on the box, and truly looks inedible.

The ingredients are as follows:

BLANCHED MACARONI PRODUCT (WATER, SEMOLINA, WHEAT GLUTEN), WATER, SKIM MILK, BEEF AND PORK, ONIONS, 2% OR LESS OF MODIFIED CORNSTARCH, DEHYDRATED SOUR CREAM (SOUR CREAM (CULTURED CREAM, NONFAT MILK)), SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, ROLLED OATS, SOYBEAN OIL, MUSHROOM BASE (SAUTEED MUSHROOMS, SUGAR, SALT, CANOLA OIL, MALTODEXTRIN, ONION POWDER, 2% OR LESS OF POTATO STARCH, HYDROLYZED WHEAT GLUTEN, MUSHROOM JUICE CONCENTRATE, CARAMEL COLOR, NATURAL FLAVORS, GARLIC JUICE CONCENTRATE, ONION JUICE CONCENTRATE, SOYBEAN OIL, XANTHAN GUM), SALT, BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, RICE STARCH, FLAVOR (MALTODEXTRIN, SALT, YEAST EXTRACT, SOY SAUCE (SOYBEANS, WHEAT, SALT), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% BEEF EXTRACT, BEEF FAT, FLAVOR, TAPIOCA DEXTRIN, THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE), DEHYDRATED ONIONS, CARAMEL COLOR, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE (VINEGAR, MOLASSES, WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, ANCHOVIES, TAMARIND, SPICES, NATURAL FLAVOR, CARAMEL COLOR, ONION POWDER, GARLIC POWDER), GARLIC PUREE, SPICES, SUGAR, YEAST EXTRACT, XANTHAN GUM, BEEF, DEHYDRATED SOY SAUCE (SOYBEANS, SALT, WHEAT), DEHYDRATED GARLIC, NATURAL FLAVORS, CULTURED WHEY, BEEF STOCK

Although most of those ingredients are recognizable, you generally wonder…. just what is Thiamin Hydrochloride?

(Thiamine hydrochloride (Betaxin) is a (when by itself) white, crystalline hygroscopic food-additive used to add a brothy/meaty flavor to gravies or soups. It is a natural intermediary resulting from a thiamine-HCl reaction, which precedes hydrolysis and phosphorylation, before it is finally employed (in the form of TPP) in a number of enzymatic amino, fatty acid, and carbohydrate reactions.)

In case you were wondering.

But why not know all the ingredients? Why not make it yourself? Why does our culture rely so much on convenience and cost over good for our bodies and peace of mind? We all work with people that pop these in the community microwave and mindlessly ingest them, maybe we are one of them. We all are short on time, or short on money. But what are we willing to sacrifice? Our health seems like a dangerous tradeoff.

I have the ability to  make a batch of 30 fantastic meatballs that I personally know what the ingredients are and where they came from, all for less than 10 dollars. Check it folks, that is 33 cents a meatball, in addition you get the added bonus of not having to make two extra meals because you would have left-overs. (Although be forewarned the recipe below is extremely addictive and doesn’t last long in our house)  In the picture above there are 5 meatballs…. that is $1.65 and it is mostly noodles, which automatically turns into body fat for those of us with PCOS. That just doesn’t seem right to me.

I encourage you to take more care, take joy in creating the food that will nourish you, know all of  your ingredients.

Swedish Meatballs with thimbleberry jam  (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

Can be served with egg noodles or mashed potatoes, but who needs em?

INGREDIENTS

Meatballs

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • 16 ounces ground pork
  • 1 small onion , grated on large holes of box grater (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 16 ounces 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon packed brown sugar (can be omitted, especially if you are watching your gi index)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  For the Meatballs: Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in panko and set aside. Meanwhile, in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. Using fork, mash panko mixture until no large dry panko remains; add mixture to mixer bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as necessary. Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary. Using moistened hands, form generous tablespoon of meat mixture into 1-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.
  2.  Heat oil in 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.
  3.  For the Sauce: Pour off and discard oil in pan, leaving any fond (browned bits) behind. Return pan to medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add brown sugar and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.
  4.  Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Roast Pork Loin with Apple Bacon Compote

I went to the dr. today for the first time since stopping metformin.

I started the drug about two years ago and had terrible side effects, including heart problems, anxiety and upset stomach. It also occurred to me that while on metformin I was actually in a state to conceive a baby, which totally blew my mind and I panicked. So I stopped taking it and instantly felt better and gained back all the weight I had lost.

The dr is a little older than I am, which one of the reasons that I like going to her. She recommended acupuncture (I live near Boulder, so this is not such an off the wall idea for the area). She prescribed Metformin but at a lower dose and encouraged me to eat 6 small meals a day and to actively try for 6 months before we revisit the topic.

I have had acupuncture in the past, and I can say that it helped with what was bothering me, so I am not against the idea. I am willing to go back on the Metformin and try to balance out my blood sugar and lose some weight. I will try to come up with some snacks I can take to work so I can eat a few meals there. Ha what a laugh, I have no idea how I will manage that, but you all can follow along as I put my ideas up here.

But the main obstacle I think I might need to overcome is the actuality of wanting a baby. I don’t think I am there yet. I don’t have a bone in my body that feels like it “needs” a baby to complete my life. I need to get my head in the game, and that’s a sports reference for a girl that doesn’t watch sports.

Roast Pork Loin with Apple Bacon Compote (adapted from Martha Stewart and The Girl and the Fig)

  • 1 bone-in pork loin roast (3 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons Maldon sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, coarsely chopped marjoram leaves
Apple Bacon Compote
  • 3 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into thin slices
  • 2 tablespoons + ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 onions sliced thin
  • 2 slices of bacon cup into small bits
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp knife, score fat that covers the top of pork. Rub pork fat with salt, garlic, and half of the marjoram leaves. Set a roasting rack in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan; set pork on rack. Transfer to oven and roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue roasting the pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the pork reaches 140 degrees, about 45 minutes more. Transfer pork to a cutting board, keep warm, and let rest 30 minutes.
  4. Pour any pan juices into a small bowl and whisk together with remaining marjoram; cover to keep warm and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, render bacon in a medium saucepan until crisp. Remove bacon leaving the fat.
  6. Add onions to bacon fat and cook stirring often until carmelized (20 min)
  7. Toss apple pieces with the 2 tablespoons of lime juice in a bowl.  Set aside.  Simmer cranberries cherries, water, the remaining lime juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, onions, bacon and mustard seeds in a sauce pot for 10 minutes.  Add apples and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  8. Thinly slice pork and drizzle over reserved pan juices and serve immediately with apples and carrots.
(I fully realize that compote is a dessert, but I took liberties)