Wednesday, October 15, 2008

HOT "N HEARTY, SLOW AND SPICY

When I meet someone new and they find out that I'm a bit silly about cooking, they always get around to asking me what is my best dish. You can almost bet it's a non-cook or novice cook that asks a question like that. I think my best dish is the one we sit down to on any given day. Because I'm a "Craver" I tend to be all over the place when it comes to what delights my taste buds. I am a real fan of Italian food, and probably cook it more than any other ethnic food group, but I'd have to say that I am truly a fan of AUTHENTIC (key word here being Authentic) Mexican fare. I love the deep, intense mysterious flavors that are such an essential part of a real mexican dish. No kidding, it can seem pretty odd to a southern gal to read a recipe that mentions cinnamon, olives, cloves, raisins, almonds and sometimes chocolate in the list of ingredients. That's in my Picadillo for Chile Rellenos. And what are those little green, papery tomato-lookin' little things? Luckily, because I happen to love each of those ingredients I mentioned, I am more apt to be intrigued than intimidated. I can't handle a lot of heat, but I've found that most Mexican recipes are only hot if you take them in that direction. The taste says it all and Geraldo and I love sharing some of our favorite Mexican dishes with friends. You can bet on some interesting table conversation when a guest takes that first bite of something they thought would taste like something from Taco Bell. "Cinnamon, what? And Chocolate? Cloves, olives? That's all in here? You've got to be kidding...who'd have thought?"
So with Fall now in full swing and the days and nights getting cozier and cozier, I'll be spending
more time inside, but not necessarily at the stove. This recipe is for the slow cooker and it takes a little time to assemble but then it cooks for several hours to develop the rich flavor of the chile and tomato- sauced pork cubes. If you've never cooked with Ancho chiles, this is a real good recipe to start with. Anchos are the dried version of the green Poblano pepper. The following dish is one of my very favorites and one we enjoy several times a year with good friends and lots of laughter. Ole! (Check out the Chile Relleno recipe, too.)

PORK ADOBADA
8 dried ancho peppers
2 cups water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
2 TBS packed brown sugar
2 TBS tomato paste
1 TBS ground cumin
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds lean boneless pork, cut into 3/4 in. cubes
6-8 8 inch flour tortillas
Assorted toppers, such as chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, shredded Monterey Jack cheese

HEAT a 12 inch heavy skillet over med. high heat. Add the peppers: toast until they begin to blister turning frequently. Transfer peppers to a medium saucepan: add the water and vinegar. Bring to boiling: reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes. remove peppers with slotted soon, reserving liquid. Cool peppers slightly.

IN A 3 1/2- OR 4 QUART SLOW COOKER, combine the onions, chicken broth, orange juice, brown sugar, tomato paste, cumin, and garlic.

USING GLOVED HANDS, remove stems from the peppers. To remove seeds, use a small knife to make a lengthwise slit on one side of each pepper. Spread peppers open and lightly rinse under cold water. Strain any seeds from cooking liquid. Transfer peppers and 1 cup pf the cooking liquid to a blender. Cover and blend until the peppers and liquid form a thick paste. Stir paste into mixture in slow cooker.

ADD PORK to slow cooker and stir until all the meat is coated with the sauce. Cover and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours. Season to taste with salt.

After cooking time...
PREHEAT oven to 350. Wrap tortillas tightly in foil. Heat in oven about 10 minutes or until heated through. Use a slotted spoon to serve pork with warm tortillas and assorted toppers. Spoon some of the sauce over each serving.

TIP A great variation on this dish is to make up each of the tortillas with the finished filling and place in a casserole dish. Spoon pork and sauce over the top and top with cheese. Heat in oven till cheese is melted and bubbling.

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