,

One day over the holidays, I asked out loud to a room full of family, “what foods should everyone eat more of in the new year?” (I was planning my first radio segment of January.) My nephews answered, “apples!” “Vegetables!” The youngest yelled out, “TACOS!!” Everyone continued with their vaguely healthy resolution-style suggestions. Charlie kept yelling, “TACOS!” And so it seems fitting to start the new year with tacos. Also, we wound up with two open bottles of nice, local stout, and because no one wants to drink flat beer but it’s perfectly fine for braising meats with, I picked up some pork shoulder. (I told you I don’t like to waste food.) And who doesn’t have at least a few squidgy mandarins at this time of year? These were juicy and sweet, but soft with drying-out leathery skins, making them tough to peel. I did it over the pot of meat, tucking chunks of peeled orange in the spaces between. It worked beautifully.

6
Share
, ,

I had been fidgety about the unseasonably warm weather around here, and then winter went and showed up all at once. Temperatures hovering around -32 with the windchill is the perfect reason to have a pot of something or other simmering on the stove, and I had been meaning to make a pot of feijoada – a thick Brazilian black bean stew, simmered with miscellaneous cuts of pork (and sometimes beef). The beauty of it is that dried beans take a few hours to soak and simmer, just like tough, flavourful cuts of meat, like pork shoulder and ham hocks. If you’ve never worked with smoked pork hocks before – it’s the ankle bit – this is a perfect reason to; you toss it in the pot and it does its thing, flavouring the beans with smoky meatiness, and then the chunks of tender meat fall off when you pull the bone and leathery skin out of the pot. Once you’ve cooked one, you’ll noticeContinue reading

4
Share

Beef stew was, sadly at the time, a staple of our childhood. My mom would buy stewing beef and my dad, clearly unaware of the benefits of cooking such cuts low and slow, would brown the meat, add tomatoes and potatoes and green things and serve it up for dinner – and it was a long, meaty chew. Nowadays, I appreciate the flavour potential of inexpensive cuts of beef – and I love a good dark, sticky braise. A recipe that calls for a few hours’ cooking time sounds daunting, but dishes like beef stew and carbonnade can be slid into the oven after school and be done by dinnertime. Of course, starting with the proper cut of beef is important, which is why so many people panic in the meat aisle, why Mike dreads me sending him to the store with vague cuts of beef on his list, and why having a good butcher is a very good thing. But when there isn’t someoneContinue reading

0
Share
,

Who else is prompted to clean their basement when freezing rain insists on falling on the second weekend in April? And who else, once downstairs rummaging through the growing pile of stuff that is the even scarier grown-up version of the monster in the basement, finds small appliances they didn’t even realize they had? I discovered that not only did we already own a humidifier – and I didn’t need to go drop $70 for a new one – we do, in fact, have a slow cooker smaller than the big oval 6 quart one I keep hauling out every time I want to cook something slowly. It’s like Christmas down there, I tell ya. (Likewise for the guys who pick up our recycling this week.)

2
Share
, ,

Today I’ve been working on an article about chiles, and as such, testing recipes that use them. My countertop is covered with dried guillano, ancho and as-yet-unidentified green, red and purplish chile peppers. One of the recipes I tested was sort of a pulled pork-goulash-sloppy José kind of thing. Using pork shoulder, I wanted to braise it, so since I didn’t get started until after 10 pm I browned it first in my skillet, then put it all in the slow cooker last night before I went to bed, fully intending to get up at 3am and check on it – in fact, I got a little giddy at the idea of sitting alone at the kitchen table in the middle of the night, writing something stirring that could only come to me at such an odd hour. The single light above me might swing subtly back and forth, as if I was in the bowel of a ship. Why does the image of aContinue reading

3
Share