Sunday, April 5, 2009

Some day, I might charge you a lot of money for this

Last night, I achieved what I did not think was possible: I made perfect Mexican rice.

And I made that rice to accompany some chile verde that also turned out to be the best chile verde I have ever made. We gotta have my brother in law and his girlfriend over more often.

Geoff likes to give me a hard time about my "modesty" when I brag about something I make being good. I like to tell him it's just being honest: If I make something that isn't good, I accept full responsibility for it.

It's just that, well, sometimes what I make turns out REALLY really good.

This is one of those times.

I didn't take any pictures (by the time dinner was ready, I had gone through several mojitos and glasses of wine) but I am telling you if you make this, you will be patting yourself on the back and bragging as well, if you can stop eating long enough to speak.

Now all this patting on the back is not from recipes I created. These are recipes I got from Cafe Med cooking classes several years ago. The original chile verde recipe is not meant to be made in the crock pot nor does it include the addition of cumin, and in fact it's slightly more difficult in technique, but for the most part, it's the recipe I got from that class.

The rice is exactly the recipe except I made the amount more "family" friendly and less "restaurant" friendly. The original recipe made one gallon of rice, although -- I am telling you -- it's so good, I might be making that much the next time.

That said, I've been making variations of chile verde since at least 2000 using multitudes of chiles, tomatillos, green bell peppers (I am ashamed to admit), and I have tried making Mexican Rice -- using every tomato product known to man and even trying achiote paste a few times -- for even longer than that, but these are the best of the best of any prior recipes I thought were "amazing"*. I mean, by and large these are both so good I told Geoff I could charge people for them, and I don't say that about much of the food I make.

*Please note: I have never thought any of my attempts at Mexican rice were amazing, but in the words of Rachel, Stuart's girlfriend, "I don't think you can make a bad chile verde". I have to agree, except this recipe just so happens to be superior to the other ones I've made.

I think I've done enough talking about it, so it's time to just let the recipes speak for themselves. If you make these (and you definitely should) please let me know how they turn out.

Chile Verde

5 lbs. pork spare ribs*
6 jalapenos**
8 anaheim chile peppers
3 tomatoes
2 - 3 onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic (skin still on)
1 T. cumin (toast the cumin seeds, and grind the cumin fresh for best results)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

*Have the butcher cut them in half lengthwise so they're about 2" long or so -- or you can find them already cut as I did, listed as "pork sweet and sour" ... God bless Food 4 Less

**This made the chile perfectly spicy, in that Geoff (who doesn't like very spicy food) was comfortable eating it. I added habanero hot sauce to my serving and if you like it spicy like I do, you can absolutely add more jalapeno chiles to taste.

Put the jalapenos, anaheim chiles and tomatoes on a foil-lined sheet pan and broil until blackened (about 5 - 10 minutes), flip them over, and broil the other side until blackened, too.

Put the roasted chiles and tomatoes into the food processor (in batches) and puree roughly (does not need to be totally smooth). Dump the mixture on top of the spare ribs.

Meanwhile, put the garlic under the broiler for about 2 - 5 minutes until the skin can easily be removed. Roughly chop the garlic and throw into the crock pot.

Saute the onions over high heat in a dry pan until there are some black parts on the onion, and they are soft. (You can also slice them and roast the slices under the broiler, but I find I don't have the patience for this and sauteeing them works just as well).

Throw the onions into the crock pot, and then put in the cumin and salt to taste (hint: it needs a LOT -- 2 - 3 T. at least I'd guess).

Add 4 cups of water to the crock pot, stir a little bit (it will be full) and turn on high for 3 hours, then turn to low for 5 hours, stirring occasionally. The chile will be ready when the meat easily separates from the bones.

Serve with rice, beans and warm corn tortillas (or chips, which is what we did last night). Top with sour cream (if you have it on hand) And if you're feeling zesty when making your frijoles de olla, add a cup of the chile verde liquid to the water. You will absolutely not be disappointed.

Mexican Rice

1.5 cups long grain rice
2.5 cups chicken stock*
1/2 yellow onion, chopped medium
1 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 large tomato, charred under broiler, peeled, chopped
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup corn oil

*By "chicken stock" I of course mean Knorr Chicken Bouillon. Mexican rice absolutely must use Knorr Bouillon or it doesn't taste right. I didn't bother mixing it with the water and just put the dry bouillon into the spice bowl with the garlic/cumin/salt mixture so I didn't have to get all OCD about it not mixing with the water.

Heat the corn oil in a 4 quart pot over medium heat. When hot, add the rice and stir, frying until the rice is lightly browned (3 - 4 minutes). Add the onion and continue cooking and stirring another 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and stir another 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomato sauce, garlic, salt and cumin and stir. Heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil the rice until the liquid reaches the same level as the rice. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 - 12 minutes until liquid is fully absorbed. Remove lid, fluff with a fork and devour.

If you make either of these recipes, please let me know how they turn out!


Melissa said...

I need to suprise Hernando with Chile Verde. He loves it and your recipe sounds delicious.

Aunt Elaine said...

Okay.......Sounds like fantastic recipes, but Geoff needs to "man up" to spicy food (as David had to)!! His biggest spice was...oooh...pepper...WOW! I was not about to prepare a dull dish and have to spice it up myself when the simmering spice would've made the dish better. Even my kids are learning to appreciate SPICE! Just don't tell Geoff I said this :)

Andy said...

I made this recipe with pork shoulder which I shredded at the end. I thickened the sauce left in the crock pot with a corn starch slurry and ended up with a Mexican/BBQ fusion situation. I put it into giant burritos with beans, rice, and cheese and baked those in the oven for 10 minutes or so.

My eyes rolled back in my head when I took the first bite.