Daily Archives: July 4, 2011

Six Layer Dip: A Way to Use Leftovers

Andrew and I had much food leftover from our Saturday night shindig. There was still a considerable amount of chili verde, pulled pork and one chicken breast left. What do with it? I contemplated chili verde pork tacos/burritos, but we had no tortillas. Then it came to me: I could make a layered dip for tonight’s BBQ at Peter’s house. Starting at ten in the morning, I started cooking my beans from scratch.

Cooking dried beans either intimidates people or just doesn’t sound very exciting. Okay, I get it. Beans are not a sexy food to cook. Plus it is so easy to buy canned beans. Canned beans however are expensive (much more expensive than buying them dried by the pound) and they often contain a lot of sodium. I also find them a tad mushy. Most of the time I do used canned beans, but I did not have any left and I did have half a pound of dried pink beans in my cupboard.

Cooking beans is a lot easier than people make it out to be. It’s certainly not quick but it is not the long ordeal that it is often made out to be. From cupboard to dip the beans took about an hour and a half. That is not bad considering many recipes say that YOU MUST soak them overnight or they will take forever to cook. Simply not true.

First, I rinsed my beans in cold water. Then I put them in a pot and covered them with water. You want at least two to three inches of water over your beans. Yes, you will need to watch the level of your water and replenish it from time to time. Do some laundry, bring a book into the kitchen, do some knitting, whatever. Bring your beans to a boil then reduce to a simmer so they are gently bubbling. Cover with a lid partway and cook for until they tender. This can take anywhere from an half to four hours. It depends on how much you’re cooking and what kind of bean it is. Mine took about an hour and a half to cook.

Cover beans with at least two inches of water. 

Bring beans to a boil, then reduce heat so they bubble gently.

Partially cover and cook until beans are tender. 

Drain the beans, rinse, and let sit until room temperature. 

When the beans are tender, take off the heat and drain in a colander. You may want to save some of your bean cooking liquid for the next part of the recipe. I did not save mine and I had to use water. Rinse the beans and let them come down to room temperature.

Mash the beans with a fork. I also added spices. 

Now is the fun part. You get to mash your beans to whatever texture you like. I wanted mine chunky so I tried a fork. That was not getting me ANYWHERE. So I used my fist instead. Yes, I fisted my beans. Yes, my hands were perfectly clean and this was totally sanitary. It was also fun. You should never doubt your hands as tools. You may need to add a little water, broth, or bean liquid to get a smoother texture. You can also go a whiz in the food processor depending on how smooth you would like your beans.

Smooth out the beans with a spatula. 

The beans serve as the base for your dip. They are the heaviest and need to be smoothed out. Pour into a large bowl and smooth until level. Then I topped it with the pulled pork which I also smoothed out with a rubber spatula.

Add pulled pork. 

Next I made some rice. I took half a cup of white rice and put it in a small pot. I covered it with vegetable broth with at least an inch covering the rice. This is the correct amount and  you don’t need to measure this exactly. From there bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and your rice is cooked.

Top the pulled pork with rice. 

Chopped chicken breast marinated in Frank’s Red Hot. 

Add chicken and more Frank’s Red Hot sauce. 

Cover the pulled pork with the rice layer. I topped the rice layer with chopped chicken breast marinated in Frank’s Red Hot sauce (my friend Ian’s contribution to our Saturday night shindig) then topped with more Frank’s Red Hot. Next came chopped avocado. Then this was finally topped with some of the leftover manzana chili verde (see previous post).

The final product

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Dr. Pepper Chipotle Pulled Pork

I know the title of this recipe sounds like some sort of white trashed fucked up mumbo jumbo but it’s really not. Okay maybe it’s a bit on the white trash side and maybe it is a little fucked up to cook with soda, but it is delicious. I was skeptical at first myself. Everyone around me was skeptical. They were like really, have you tried this before? I don’t know. Are you sure you want to make this for a party the first time you cook it? Yes. Parties are my favorite place to try new recipes that I would never otherwise cook. It is the only time there are enough people around to eat an entire shoulder of pork.

Roughly chop an onion and put it at the bottom of the slow cooker. 

Four pounds of pork shoulder. Fat side up. 

I love pork shoulder. Slow cooked, falling apart with the push of a spoon, it is one of my favorite cuts of meat. I used to cook it all the time with my roommate in college. This recipe is incredibly simple and was inspired by two cooks that I would never cop to liking: Sandra Lee (that creepy Semi-Homemade lady) and Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman…okay, I think she’s awesome at least).

The two recipes are pretty much the same. Pioneer Woman writes in her blog as if she was the first person to ever think this up, but really she’s not. In the southern part of the United States it’s fairly common to cook with soda pop (either cola or dr. pepper). Her pictures turned out a lot prettier than mine so definitely check her post out.

First you need to chop an onion roughly. Here is where the PW recipe deviates from the SL (Sandra Lee) one. PW calls for one onion and SL calls for two. I ended up with one onion because I accidentally put two onions in my chili verde (see earlier post). This goes in the bottom of your slow cooker. Oh yeah, PW puts hers in the oven and SL uses a slow cooker. I used a slow cooker because I didn’t want my oven running for six hours. On top of your onions goes your pork shoulder (otherwise known as a pork butt, incorrectly), which should go fat side up. Liberally salt and pepper your pork roast.

Then you should your two cinnamon sticks and bay leaf. SL also adds cloves. Cloves are expensive and I do not already have cloves in my cupboard so I did not use them. You can use them if you like. Now add your can of chipotle peppers. SL’s recipe does not call for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, but PW does. I wanted something spicy so I got a small can of chipotle peppers (these are found on the international foods aisle of most grocery stores). Let me just say I’m rather confused about the international foods aisle. Does that mean that the rest of the store is made up of white American food? It’s also not very international in my neck of the woods: kosher, Italian, Mexican and “Asian”. These are all very white washed versions of those foods as well. Okay enough of my ranting about the inherent racism found in the grocery system.

Add cinnamon and bay leaf. 

Pour your chipotle peppers on top of your roast. Now add twelve ounces of Dr. Pepper. I used Diet Dr. Pepper because I could not find a small bottle of Dr. Pepper anywhere in Safeway. I did not want a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper, so Diet Dr. Pepper it was. It works just as well. You could also use cola, Pepsi, RC, root beer, whatever dark soda you like. I think the concept is the same. You also cannot really taste the soda at the end of it.

Add chipotle peppers with adobo sauce. 

Now cook on low for approximately eight hours. You can cook it on high for 3-4 hours in your slow cooker. You can also do it in the oven for six hours at a temperature of 300 degrees. At around six hours it will start to fall apart with the touch of a wooden spoon.

The roast after two hours.

The sauce after two hours of cooking. 

The end result. Yum!

Drain the fat from the sauce, shred the pork with a fork, and then serve however you like. It’s good with tortillas or on a roll with some bbq sauce. We just ate it with tortilla chips.

Vegan Chili Verde

This is one of my favorite cook book recipes. I’ve been recently mulling over my distaste for the way most cookbooks are set up. I find reading through the list of ingredients and directions for dummies to be tedious, boring, and uninspiring. The majority of cook books are made for the lowest common denominator, which is fine for when I want to learn how to cook something that I’ve never cooked before. That is when I turn to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I’ve learned a lot about the basics of cooking from reading his book.

I think the problem boils down to this: when an author writes in his or her introduction that he/she is passionate about cooking, food, and states that they show their soul through the cooking and then write the most soulless, scientific sounding recipes then I just don’t believe them. I find it disingenuous. Give me some character, heart, and explain to me how you feel as you cook. If you are not a gifted writer, then have someone else do the writing for you and you provide the recipes.

I’m veering wildly off-topic here. Back to what I cooked this weekend. This weekend we finally made our move back to Santa Cruz from the Silicon Valley. We had a housewarming party on Saturday, the day after we moved in. Andrew and I are amazingly efficient movers; we had our entire house set up and everything unpacked by mid-Saturday morning. That was with our movers being an hour and a half late on Friday and with me having to make multiple trips over the winding mountain highway in between Santa Cruz and the bay area.

I knew that I wanted to make the chili verde from the Veganomicon. I purchased the Veganomicon when I had my foray into veganism. I still enjoy vegan cooking. It’s something completely different than recipes that rely upon meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s a challenge and it’s interesting. The Veganomicon for me is the vegan cookbook to purchase. It’s easy enough to follow if you’re a beginner while still maintaining a level of variation and interest. They give fun, pithy explanations of each dish before starting in on the recipe which makes it enjoyable to read. Some of the recipes are damn good, such as the manzana chili verde, chickpea cutlets, and vanilla pound cake, while others suck incredibly (the mustard sauce is one of the most heinous things I’ve ever put in my mouth).

This recipe is based off of and inspired by the Manzana Chili Verde found on page 171 of the Veganomicon by Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz. These are also the same ladies who brought you Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  They know what they’re doing. I forsake traditional recipe writing here. If you want to know exact ingredients and cooking times please refer to that cookbook. The result is a tangy, spicy, filling concoction that is great as a tip or as a meatless dinner.

1. First wash the following produce: one pound of baby yukon gold potatoes (I used “gold potatoes” whatever the hell those are because Safeway didn’t have baby Yukons), two Granny Smith apples, two poblano peppers (my recipe deviates here and I ended up having to use two green bell peppers. Use green bell peppers if you’re not a fan of the spicy.), and three jalapeño peppers. Set aside the apples and peppers for now.

Wash and roughly chop potatoes

2. Set yourself to work on roughly chopping your potatoes. Then put them in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. You want them to boil for about twenty minutes at this point. Use this time to peel and chop your onion (I accidentally used two onions and this was perfectly fine) and chop the peppers. Roughly chop them. It doesn’t matter honestly because you’re going to be putting this through a food processor eventually. Leave the seeds in the jalapeño peppers if you want it to be spicy.

Peel and roughly chop the onion

Wash and chop the peppers. You want it in smaller pieces than this picture shows. 

3. Once your potatoes are tender enough to stick a fork easily in them take them off the heat and drain them. Now get some oil cooking on medium high and then add your peppers and onion. Cook for about ten minutes. While these are cooking, chop your garlic (I used an entire head. Use as much as you like. Exact measurements DO NOT MATTER), and get the cumin (I did not use cumin), chili powder (I used chili powder and the original recipe does not), a teaspoon of oregano,  and 2 cups of vegetable broth ready. Chop the apples into bite sized pieces. Prepare your tomatillos.

Note: To prepare tomatillos you need to remove the papery skins on the outside. Tomatillos are like little green apple and tomato hybrids. They can also be rather sticky. Remove the papery skins and then wash. Chop into small pieces.

Cook the onions and peppers on medium high in olive oil for about ten minutes.

Onions and peppers after 10 minutes

4. When the peppers and onions have reached a soft translucency, add the garlic, tomatillos and spices. Cook for about another minute then add the vegetable broth and apples. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. I forgot to warn at the beginning of this that this is a rather time consuming recipe, but completely worth it.

Add tomatillos

Add apples and vegetable broth. Cook for another 20 minutes.

5. After the twenty or so minutes are up, carefully ladle your mixture into a food processor. If you have a large food processor good for you it will get done quicker. If you have an immersion blender well then you’re just super awesome and lucky aren’t you. Use that. If you don’t have either, but you have a food mill then use that, but be careful no matter because this shit is hot and can possibly burn you. Go through the entire batch and food process, blend, or mill until it reaches a rough smoothness.

Chili verde after its been in the food processor and the beans/potatoes are added. 

6. Add potatoes and two cans of beans (the original recipe calls for one can of beans but I found that meager). Simmer until heated through. I actually served mine at room temperature with tortilla chips and that was delicious.

People enjoying the manzana chili verde.