Friday, July 15, 2011

For Marcus Audens, Pork and Peas

This one has taken me a while to get to, not because I haven't wanted to, but because life has been BUSY! But today, this amazing food is cooking in my kitchen, and my nose is quite pleased! So, here's the process I'm following. I wish I had my camera to take photos!!

This morning my dear hubby and sous chef helped me by cutting this huge pork shoulder and ribs slab into several pieces. I froze half for another time, and took the tip, the big shoulder piece and a couple of ribs. I seasoned them well with salt and pepper and just popped them in the fridge for later. Before I started the veggies, I put the pork pieces in a pan and coated with olive oil on both sides.* I roasted them at 400 degrees about 15 minutes and flipped for another 15 minutes. This will give you time to chop veggies and clean up this round of the meal!

The chichees were soaked overnight last night and then again today with fresh water. Once I got the meat in the oven , I dumped the soaked peas in my big stew pot, covered them in water, and added the following**:
2 chopped carrots
2 chopped celery ribs
2 chopped leeks (chop then toss in a bowl of cold water to separate and rinse)
1 large chopped onion
several cloves of raw garlic that had just been broken with the flat side of a knife
Then I added just a little bit of chicken bouillon, but only because it was in the fridge that was getting cleaned out at the time!

Added some fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil and bay) to the pot and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. The roasted meat goes in next with all the drippings and olive oil you began with. Then I put in about half the head of roasted garlic. It's 6:20pm and we're simmering with everything in the pot and the lid tipped a bit to vent the amazing smell.

 6:45 and I almost couldn't leave the pot. It smells SO good. I decided it was time to add some more herbs and some spices to the mix. I tossed in a good heavy center-of-my-palm full of ground coriander and about the same amount of curry powder. I also tossed in a bit of rubbed sage, and stirred it all while enjoying the steam facial!
This will be a recipe I will be using again. I can already tell by the smell that it's going to be amazing.

7pm- added about 4 or 5 cloves of roasted garlic. YUM Stirred well, still simmering!

8pm- could no longer resist. I had a small bowl. It was delicious! It's a rich broth, very mild with a wonderful balance of herbs and spices. Took out what was left of the stems from the fresh herbs and removed the pork to cool so I can shred it.

10pm- The pork is shredded and I made some plain rice to go with this soup. Big bowls of rice are covered in this flavorful soup, and the steaming bowl is very good and very reminiscent of a time gone by. Everyone is full and happy with our late-night feast.


*Had I been cooking over flame, just sear each piece quickly in a pan or on a long stick for the purpose. You don't need to cook it through, just brown it.

**You could also use shredded cabbage, turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, beet roots and greens, chard, spinach, just about any veggie you have on hand that would have been medieval (or not!).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

From Modern to Medieval: Beans and Rice

While I would love the chance to cook all my meals in a stone oven or over an open flame, I typically use my very modern appliances to prepare and cook meals. And while many medieval recipes come out of my modern kitchen, they are certainly not the majority. I'm a Southerner, born and raised, and I love to cook all kinds of foods. Tonight, it'll be red beans with sausage and rice. I thought I'd share this recipe with you too. And once you know how to make it, I'll turn it around into a medieval dish too! I suppose that would be reverse redaction...that sounds far too complicated! LOL Enjoy both options!

Red Beans and Rice

For the rice, I have to admit I love a boxed one here. Zatarain's Yellow Rice is a favorite, and it goes beautifully with this dish. You can definitely make white rice and it would be delicious. For the Zatarain's, just follow the directions on the box. For white rice, use the directions...typically you use one cup of rice to two cups of water.

Soak red kidney beans overnight or at least a couple of hours in hot water. Drain them and rinse them. In a crock pot (6 hrs.) or on the stove (just a couple of hours) put:

soaked beans- about 1/2 lb.
*1 can beef broth (about 2 c. homemade)
*1 can tomato sauce  (about 2 c. homemade) OR a can of diced tomatoes w/ juice    and a small can of tomato paste
*1 ham hock, leftover pork roast bone or lamb bone
 *bacon & grease- this is optional if you want to use olive oil without the meat, but  I recommend crumbling the cooked bacon into the beans and use all the grease for  the onions, peppers, celery and garlic
*a couple of tablespoons of Old Bay (or your favorite Cajun seasoning)
*a good tablespoon of black pepper
*a few good shots of Tabasco or Durkee or Frank's hot sauce (and more once it's     in the bowl if you like!)

In a skillet on the stove-top, heat up a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease or olive oil. Add one or two chopped onions to the oil and stir well. Toss in a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, 2-3 chopped celery ribs and 2 chopped bell peppers.

Add a 1/2 lb to a lb. of sliced sausage; you can use andouille, kielbasa, or whatever you have! You can add in leftover beef or pork, and even chicken is good. Brown it all just a bit, then toss it in with the beans, oil and all.

Top it off with water, and keep an eye on it, adding water as needed.  Stir it now and then. As the beans get closer to being done, stop adding water. Let it thicken, or you can add a bit of tomato paste to thicken it at the end if needed.

Serve it over hot white or yellow rice. It's SOOOO good.

Now, to turn this into a medieval dish. We have all the right ingredients:

*celery, peppers, onions, garlic
*olive oil
*meat bone, likely would have been pork or lamb
*bacon/pork grease- you'll need to cook about 1/3 lb. of bacon and then crumble
*rice, and the turmeric to  create the yellow color as well as saffron for flavor
*water, stock or broth

The only non-medieval ingredient on my list is the tomato sauce. Tomatoes came to Europe with adventurers returning from the Americas in the 1500s, and even then they were considered poisonous because of their red color. The leaves of the plant are actually poisonous, as tomatoes belong to the nightshade family. They were originally grown in Europe as ornamental plants. There was a deadly problem however, as the acid in the tomatoes increased the leeching of lead out of plates and often the wealthy with their lead-ridden plates were falling dead, and they believed it was the tomatoes that did the deed. Once Italian cooks started making pizza with tomato sauce, all of Europe figured it out - tomatoes are tasty.

You could also add in cubed potatoes, carrots, leeks, turnips, greens, or whatever else you have in the house. Of course, potatoes aren't medieval either, but we've already covered that as I recall. A pot of beans with a little seasoning makes a fine meal, but add in some other veggies and have a pot of soup. To thicken it, use a handful of breadcrumbs or mix up a roux. For a quicker, more modern thickener for soups, stews and beans is instant potatoes. The flakes thicken the liquid and add a complimentary flavor to the dish. Not in a medieval pot, though!!

Food today isn't all that different from food hundreds of years ago. We still use beans in cooking, and they provide an excellent source of protein that we need. Beans are the go-to food for many folks, especially in economic times like these.
They are cheap, easy to prepare, and you can use a wide variety of veggies and spices, herbs and sauces, to add to the flavor.

I hope you enjoy these easy meals, and I hope you try your own versions! I wish I had my camera...I'd post pics! My camera is in Boston with my son. So send me your pics!