martes, 27 de septiembre de 2011

Crohn, the Destroyer of Colons (Escabeche de Habanero y Rábano)

Those of you that are into history/fantasy/videogames/RPGs must be familiar with the concept of Mythical weapons having proper names. Indeed, in many cultures, weapons were attributed magical properties and sometimes, souls. From the famed Excalibur of Arthurian Legend, to the Masamune of japanese myth, to Mjölnir held by Thor, nearly every civilization with some degree of belic badassitude has at least one weapon held in such esteem.

With this in mind, I present to you CROHN!, The Destroyer of Colons!

This is a salsa so fucking awesome it straddles the line between salsa and slaw and becomes something greater. It's a neon demon of intestinal disruption so powerful, yet so seductive, your mouth will never, ever, be the same.

Strictly speaking, this is the freaky love child of an Escabeche marinade and a super hot salsa. I swear, I still haven't found a protein that doesn't agree with it. From beef, to chicken, to fish tacos... hell, even fucking deep fried tofu gets an unexpected upgrade from just a few tablespoons of this shit.

WARNING! Even this pussyfied, toned down version packs a serious punch to the sigmoid. Do not attempt if you have some intestinal condition or a congenital lack of testiclular fortitude.
This could be your colon

That said, start with as many habaneros as you can handle. I usually include 1 per person, but for this particular post, we'll use only 2. Char them on a griddle. This is called "torear", litterally meaning "pissing them off". Get them nice and chared and let them cool to room temperature.

While the chiles cool, start julienning 3 bunches of radishes.

 Follow with a large red onion, cut in mezzalunas.

Put them in a bowl with a bunch of finely chopped cilantro. You can tell by now I fucking love cilantro like a fat kid loves his pie.
Now take your pissed-off habaneros and chop them finely, seeds and all. You can tell this is gonna hurt coz I'm using a fork. Add them to the rest of the vegetables.
I mean, I watched 2 girls 1 cup while eating chocolate ice-cream, and I still respect them this much.
Now take 1 1/2 cups of orange juice, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar, douchebag italian sea salt to taste and 2 Tbsp of dried oregano and nuke on high for 90 seconds to dissolve the salt. Add this to the vegetables along with 2 Tbsps of whole black peppercorns. Adjust salt to taste.

The fucking Guido of Salts

Give a good stir to dissolve all the salt

This needs to sit in your fridge for at least 1 hour. As the onions pickle, they'll turn an unnerving shade of neon pink. As soon as they do, they're ready to eat.

Printer-Friendly version: Crohn, the Destroyer of Colons
3 bunches or radishes, jullienned (3 cups).
1 large red onion, cut to mezzaluna (2 cups).
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (1 cup).
As many habanero peppers as your pussy-ass intestines can handle, chared and chopped.
1 1/2 cups orange juice + 1/2 cup white vinegar (alternatively, 2 cups sour orange juice to score some serious cuban points)
2 Tbsps sea salt
2 Tbsps dried oregano
2 Tbsps whole black peppercorns
  1. Place everything in a bowl, stir well.
  2. Let the onions turn a decievingly adorable shade of neon pink.
  3. Be fucking awesome and put it on everything.
  4. Leave a comment, it's the least you can do.
By the way, stay tuned for next week's post, there will be an AWESOME application for Crohn

martes, 20 de septiembre de 2011

Meze, Part 5: Salat Aravi

Bale-Christ thinks it's Delicious
And we finally reach the conclusion of our Epic Meze Weekend with the one salad I could eat for the rest of my life: Salat Aravi. According to Gil Hovav, this salad is the single most iconic dish of Israeli cuisine (you should read whatever this guy types, He is fucking AWESOME), even though it was apropriated by Israeli Jews from Arabs since time inmemorial. It's got as many variations as there are cooks arround the mediterranian, but the one thing they have in common is that all the vegetables are chopped as finely and uniformly as possible. This is the measure of the cook's ability and knife skills.

For this recipe, I'm going with the more traditional morroccan version, which is my all-time favorite. It brings fond memories of all my amazing travels to Morrocco (through the Food Network and Travel Channel, of course), and is always a hallmark of summer in my house.

So start with 2 large cucumbers, peeled, and cube them uniformly. Size is up to you, I like my salad to feel like a salad and not a salsa.

Next, seed and chop 4 medium tomatoes to roughly the same size as your cucumbers.
 Finely chop the greens from a whole bunch of scallions and a bunch of cilantro.

Fucking Kitchen Ninja skillz right here

 Now put your vegetables in a bowl...
Shit.... We're gonna need a bigger bowl.....
 ...or two...

... and add about 3 heaping tablespoons of dried dill. This is dill. Some jars will say "Dill Weed". You can't smoke it, dumb ass, so don't try it. Dried dill is a lot less flavorful than fresh. You'll want to use a lot more than 3 Tbsps if you jar's been sitting on the shelf for too long.

Dress the salad using 1/2 a cup of olive oil, 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Turns out it did fit in one bowl....
Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours and prepare to have you mind blown

Printer-Friendly Version:

2 very large cucumbers, peeled and chopped
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
3 Tbsp chopped dill
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Throw everything in a bowl
  2. Fucking rule the table, yet again
  3. Leave a comment, awesome people do.

martes, 13 de septiembre de 2011

Just In Time for Mexican Independence Day: Birria

Contrary to popular gringo belief, May 5th is most definitely fucking NOT Mexican Independence Day. May 5th commemorates the Battle of Puebla, the one time the Mexican Army defeated the French Invasion Forces (only to lose a similar battle exactly 1 year later) sent by Napoleon Bonaparte as an attempt to keep Americans in check. For some reason even we don't get, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th, the day the War started; whereas May 5th was adopted as Mexican Heritage Day by the Miller Brewing Co. as a way to sell more beer to already alcoholic mexican immigrants. Way to go.

The origins of the dish known as birria are forever lost in time. The word itself means "unimportant" in ancient spanish. Still, it's probably the most iconic meat stew in mexican cuisine. One thing we know for certain is that it came from the state of Jalisco, although variations exist even among families in the same town. This particular recipe is sort of Jalisco-inspired, yet it misses two very important ingredients: Pulque and Maguey.
The leaves are widely used in mexican cuisine

Although some purists argue that the flavor is deeply afected by the presence of the Agave leaves, I've found it only contributes to the consistency of the broth and does little for flavoring in itself, so I completely left it out for the sake of simplicity.

Start with 1/2 a lamb (that's around 16 lbs worth of meat) left over from our previous meze night. As with all good stews, leave most of the fat, connective tisue and bones, as they will release collagen and make everything come together. Rinse the meat and rub it with salt.
We also ate his liver with a nice Chianti

Now, take 6 lbs of ripe tomatoes, chop them up in large chunks and place them in a pot with only 1 cup of water.

These are your chiles. Get good chiles from a mexican market. I mean really GOOD chiles. You could cook Kobe beef and fuck it up with shitty chiles or bottled sauces. Add 2 large anchos, 2 large Californias, 4 large Chipotles and a fistful of Árbol and Moritas to the pot with the tomatoes, along with 4 large garlic cloves and 1 large onion. Cover and steam over a low flame for 20 mins, or until the tomatoes are mashed to a paste.
Left to right: Ancho, Árbol, California, Morita and Chipotle

While the tomatoes stew, take 6lbs of beef, in this case chuck pot roast, and chop it ip in fist-sized chunks.
MEAT..... yum!

Blend your stewed tomatoes and feel the hair on your chest grow and your voice deepen as you smell your delicious concoction. A mustache may start to show now. Women beware of the potentially harmul effects of the pure testosterone you're handling right here.
Also known as Salsa...

Now layer the meats with some sea salt and whole peppercorns in a large pot. Pour some sauce over the whole thing. Repeat until you're done. At this point, some people add 2 cups of pulque. I couldn't find any. You can substitute with a cup of mezcal. This helps soften the meat even more and adds another layer of flavor. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
Douche-ing it up with italian sea salt I actually got in Italy

The next day, take your tightly covered pot and simmer it over a medium low flame for 4 hours. Traditionally, the lid is held in place with masa. This way the steam from the stew cooks it and turns it into an airtight seal. I didn't buy mine in time, so I used aluminum foil.
Say it with me: FUCK. YEA.

DO. NOT. PEEK. Let the meat steam and do its thing. After 3 and a half hours, uncover and check for doneness. Take the larger chunks of meat and shred losely. Return to the pot and keep at a low simmer.

Be warned, the stains do not come off. Ever

Now serve. Take some meat, put in in a bowl, ladle some broth around it. Top with finely chopped onions and cilantro, a good squeeze of lime juice and some shredded cabbage. Make some salsa (I assume you've figured out THAT much so far) and pass it around. Supply abundant corn tortillas.
Beware of dick-exploding awesomeness (it might startle you at first, but it comes back, bigger and better).

Or make tacos, whatever rocks your boat
The Champ had at least 8 tacos
Epic Mexican Hangover Cure!
 Printer-friendly version: Birria de Borrego (Mexican Lamb Stew)
6 lbs lamb, whatever parts you like
6 lbs chuck pot roast, cubed
6 lbs tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 large Ancho chiles
2 large California chiles
4 large Chipotle chiles
50g Árbol chiles
50g Morita chiles
4 large garlic cloves
1 large onion, quartered
1/3 cup black peppercorns
Sea salt
2 cups Pulque (optional)

Garnishes: Chopped cilantro, chopped onions, limes, red salsa, corn torillas
  1. Rinse your meats, pat dry and rub with salt. Let rest
  2. Simmer the tomatoes, chiles, onion and garlic with very little water and blend into a thick paste
  3. Mix the meats, sauce, peppercorns and salt in a large pot. Add the pulque if you get some.
  4. Cover and marinate overnight. Get shitfaced during said night.
  5. Cook over a low flame for 4 hours
  6. Serve, cure your hangover
  7. Be Awesome