World Traveler….. Beef Guinness Pie and Mole Verde

I probably shouldn’t have started a blog if I wasn’t going to update it. But I didn’t know I was going to get pregnant, and I didn’t know that I would be traveling around the world pregnant and the toll that would take on my body.

So where have  I been and what have I brought back? (other than a nasty strain of some sort of bacterial yuckiness)

I started my summer in Ireland!

Ireland is lovely, with the kindest and most hospitable people I have encountered. We ate a lot of pub food and it was great! I asked the barkeep what pregnant women drank in the pub, he laughed and said, “Guinness of course!” Here is a recipe for Guinness Beef Pie. Granted, this is usually made with pie crust or potatoes. For PCOS eliminate the crust/potatoes and eat as a nice stew.

Beef and Guinness Pie (from Gourmet)

  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons drained brined green peppercorns, coarsely chopped
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Instructions:

    Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.

    Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and enjoy!

    Ok, so I returned for 5 days, in which I helped plan a bridal shower and then jetted off to Mexico! This is my 5th time in this area so it wasn’t much of a new adventure. My sister was getting married and we stayed at a resort, which doesn’t count much for traveling….
    “Toursits don’t know where they have been and Travelers don’t know where they are going.” Paul Theroux-
    I figure I am in the Travelers category.
    My favorite little known Mexican recipe is for Mole Verde. Give yourself plenty of time to make this, and don’t be surprised if you eat the whole thing in one sitting.
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    Mole Verde (from Rick Bayless)

    1 large white onion, sliced
    4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
    1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
    Salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
    1 good-size (3-pound) chicken, cut into quarters
    2 bay leaves
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
    A generous 1 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) hulled raw pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
    12 large sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
    3 small romaine leaves, roughly chopped
    Hot green chilies to taste (roughly 3 serranos or 2 small jalapeños), stemmed and roughly chopped
    1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

    Instructions:

    1. The chicken: In a large (6-quart) pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add half of the onion and garlic, all the carrot, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the chicken back (if you’re lucky enough to have a separated one), neck, heart and giblets. Skim off any foam that rises after a minute or two, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Add the dark meat quarters, skim again after a couple of minutes, then add the bay, thyme and marjoram, partially cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the breast quarters, skim when the liquid returns to the simmer, partially cover and cook 13 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the chicken cool for a few minutes in the broth. Remove the breast and leg quarters from the broth and set aside. Strain the broth, discarding the solids, and spoon off any fat that rises to the top.

    2. The pumpkin seeds: In a large (10-to 12-inch), heavy skillet set over medium heat, spread out the pumpkinseeds and toast, stirring regularly, until all have popped (from flat to rounded) and turned golden (no darker); once they start popping, the whole process shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes. Spread out on a plate to cool; reserve a couple of tablespoons for garnish.

    3. The sauce: In a blender, combine the cooled pumpkinseeds with the remaining half of the onion and garlic, the cilantro, romaine,
    and green chiles. Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and blend to a smooth puree. Heat the oil in a large (4-quart), heavy saucepan over medium. Add the puree and stir constantly until very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the broth (you’ll have about 4 cups broth left over for soup or another sauce), partially cover and simmer 20 minutes; the sauce will look coarse at this point.

    4. Scrape the sauce into a blender, loosely cover and blend to a smooth puree; if necessary add a little extra broth (or water) to give the sauce a medium consistency. Rinse your saucepan, return the blended sauce to it, taste and season with salt, usually a 1/2 teaspoon. Add the chicken and warm (but don’t bring to a simmer) over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes.

    5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a warm serving platter, then ladle the sauce over and around it, decorate with the reserved pumpkinseeds and cilantro sprigs, and it’s ready to serve.

    After returning, I had a stomach virus and a head cold. I blame it on the airplane flight. It has been 2 weeks since I have returned and I still need to be close to a bathroom. Hoping to one day eat normal again!

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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.