Sunday, January 11, 2009

Some Internet Recipe Reviews

During the past few weeks, I tried some new recipes and revisited old favorites. I thought some of you might be interested in them!

For a tasty spread on sandwiches or just as a dip, this smokey tomato confit is amazing. The smokiness comes from smoked Spanish paprika - a little goes a long way, so don't be alarmed at the price tag (usually less than $10). For a more refined dip, I'll pass this mixture through the biggest sieve on my food mill instead of pulsing it with the food processor.

Since Mexican food ingredients were wonderfully fresh in Arizona, I tried out a couple of dishes on everyone, and was happy with the results. The first one was carnitas cooked the classic way: in lard. Yes, I bought 3 pounds of lard and simmered cubed pork butt until it was meltingly tender. What a treat! I couldn't taste the orange at all, but I had to rush the cooking a bit since I got back from a hike at 5 PM and I had 6 starving people checking my progress. The next time I make this, I'll let it cook for at least 4 hours over low heat. The only extra step I did was to pan fry the pork after I extracted it from the lard so I had little bits of crisp, caramelized porky goodness! Mmmmmm, porky goodness!

The second dish I tried was manchamanteles, or "table stainer." Talk about getting all of your fiber into your sauce! It has raisins, prunes, apples, apricots, and pineapples in it. I like smooth sauces, so I pureed all the ingredients together when they were done simmering. I cooked chicken in my manchamanteles by first browning the boneless chicken on all sides, and then covering it with sauce and letting it simmer for at least 30 minutes. OMG, I'll be making this again and again and again! Leftover sauce freezes well, and leftover chicken with manchamanteles makes a good base for chilaquiles! We had chilaquiles for breakfast at least twice since we also had plenty of leftover tortillas.

Chilaquiles is tortilla strips fried, and then smothered with salsa or another spicy sauce. The tortilla strips should have an al dente texture, and not be too crisp or too soggy. I serve mine with cilantro, refried beans, queso seco (Mexican dried cheese), and a swirl of crema fresca (sour cream as a sub).

Sorry for the lack of pictures! All the food went too fast for me to photograph!

I salute those of you who regularly cook for 6+ people a night. I found it exhausting, but it did give me the incentive to try new recipes.

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