Monday, May 16, 2011

Imma do the things that i wanna do/I ain't got a thing to prove to you/I'll eat my candy with the pork and beans - Collards, green beans and chili

On Friday nights, the Boy is usually working late and we have dinner when he gets home at 9:30 or so. Sometimes I am quite sure of what I'm making and spend the evening working on it, timing things to get done just so. Or I pick something that is relatively easy, do all the pre-prep work, and start the cooking process just before he gets home. Last Friday I started poking around in the freezer around 4:00 with absolutely no idea what I might make. The things I found that piqued my interest were a package of ham for seasoning, some green beans and a bag of collard greens. So it was going to be a pot of ham, green beans and potatoes, and a batch of collards with onions and turkey bacon. The green beans were easy - dump the beans in a pot, dice up a big potato and add that, dump in the ham, add water, onion powder, salt and pepper, cover and cook for a couple of hours (the idea is NOT to have crisp, green beans here; this is slow cooked food). For the collards I heated some oil, and sauteed chopped onion and turkey bacon, added the greens, some seasonings and water just to the top of the greens. For good measure and a little spice, I also included about a 1/4 cup of my hot pepper vinegar. After the couple hours of cooking it mellowed to a nice little heat that was more flavor than burn.

As expected, the Boy rejected the collard greens outright. I had also thawed a couple of Italian sausages which I grilled and basted with some honey mustard. It was rather an odd Friday night dinner, but I enjoyed it.
I waited till rather late on Sunday to make a decision about dinner. A call to the Boy got me a request for "something warming." It had been a rainy, gloomy and cold (particularly for May) day and a big pot of something hot was a great idea. Chili seemed like an even better idea. Because I was too lazy to probe too far into the freezer, a stumble across a package of boneless beef short ribs became the meat basis for the chili. I think I've said before that every pot of chili I make is an adventure; they rarely taste exactly the same twice, and I'm okay with that. This time I had a bag of dried red beans which I cooked in the pressure cooker (seriously, if you cook beans, a pressure cooker is an absolute must - it takes less than 45 minutes to cook a pound of beans - no soaking, no pre-boil). Chopped onion (most of a large specimen), three cloves of garlic and the cubed short ribs were sauteed in some canola oil. Once the meat was done, I added two heaping teaspoons of cumin and about four tablespoons of chili powder and let that simmer a bit. I happened to have the remains of a small can of tomato paste in the refrigerator and in addition to that I used a big can of crushed tomatoes. I drained the beans and added them to the pot, seasoned with salt, pepper and several dashes of Valentina Extra Hot Sauce. To offset the acid of the tomatoes, I find a little bit of sugar (perhaps two tablespoons) works well to meld all the flavors together. Oh, and because I had an open bag, I popped in about a cup and a half of frozen corn.

It only got to cook for about an hour, and it was very good, but I suspect the next time we eat it (probably tomorrow) it will be even better.

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