Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vindaloo Lamb and Farro Salad

I picked up some Vindaloo Seasoning awhile back and thus far had only used it in some stirfries. I also was in possession of some high quality ground lamb from Brookfield Farm in Walpole, NH thanks to Mom. I was looking for something to do with the ground lamb that wasn't meatballs and wasn't saucy (i.e. requiring one to be at the table with a napkin). The dish I've created here is a one dish meal, something you can eat in comfort on the couch without worry about a mess, or in Matt's case today, munch on while brewing beer.  In terms of this being a dish with a traditional Indian seasoning, this dish is in no way traditional, however I used some classic combinations to piece it together, lamb and farro pair well, as do lamb and mint, and the almonds and golden raisins align nicely with the vindaloo seasoning.  The dish is good for leftovers if heated up slightly (cold ground lamb can get a bit greasy), and this is also super fast.  If you use pearled farro, you can have this dish ready in about 20 minutes.The quantities below create about 4 servings.

  • 1 1/4 cup farro
  • olive oil
  • 3/4 pound ground lamb, preferably local and sustainable
  • 1 TBS Vindaloo Seasoning (I like Penzeys)
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, small dice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds
  • 6-8 leaves of fresh mint, sliced into thin ribbons (aka...chiffonade)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Cook your farro according to package instructions to a doneness of al dente, adding a teaspoon of salt to the water.  Depending on what sort of farro you have (regular, pearled, semi-pearled), this could take between 15 and 30 minutes of cooking time.
  • When farro is cooked, drain and place in a bowl, add a TBS of olive oil and toss.
  • Meanwhile, while farro is cooking, brown the ground lamb over medium high heat in a little bit of olive oil.  Half way through browning, mix in the vindaloo seasoning.
  • Combine lamb, farro, celery, red onion, golden raisins, almonds, mint and salt and toss well.
  • Serve warm, or refrigerate and reheat slowly in microwave before serving.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pasilla Chile, Pork and Mushroom Tacos

As it seems to be lately...the dishes aren't always the prettiest, but oh the flavor is amazing. Rich, bold, layered with earthy flavor, you'll wonder why you haven't been eating tacos like these for years.  Just enough heat to know you're eating chile-infused pork and mushrooms, but not so much that you can't taste all the other components. Don't forget the sweet onion and cilantro as garnishes, those two touches really bring the dish together. This is not a quick dinner, except that it makes great leftovers which make a super fast meal, so if you invest a little time when you can, you'll be reaping the benefits for a few meals. You can also stop after making the pasilla paste, refrigerate and then continue making the tacos anytime during the next week. I created this recipe by adapting and combining a couple Rick Bayless methods and recipes. This recipe now rivals a beer braised turkey (I subsitute 2 pounds chicken thighs) taco recipe for our favorite tacos.

Recipe makes enough for 12 tacos, serving 4-6 people

For the pasilla paste:
  • 12 good-sized garlic cloves, skin on
  • 4 ounces dried Pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut open
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • Heat a dry cast iron pan to medium heat, place garlic cloves in pan and dry toast for about 15 or 20 minutes, turning a few times, until soft, fragrant and blackened in spots.  Set aside to cool, remove skins, and roughly chop.
  • Using same cast iron, toast chiles a couple seconds per side, pressing down with a potato masher or flat metal spatula, then add to a bowl of hot water.  Continue toasting all chiles until done.  Then let chiles sit in hot water for 30 minutes, and then drain chiles, reserving 2/3 cup of liquid
  • Put chiles, garlic, spices and reserved soaking liquid into food processor (or blender).  Process until you get a smooth puree (you'll have to scrape down the sides a few times).
  • With a rubber spatula, work puree through a size to remove any bits of skin or seeds.
  • At this point, you can continue to make the tacos, or seal the paste in a container and refrigerate up to a week.
For Tacos
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder/butt, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pasilla Paste from recipe above
  • 1 1/4 cups beef broth, low sodium
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • corn tortillas
For Garnish
  • sweet onion, very thinly sliced
  • chopped cilantro
  • Heat olive oil in deep saute pan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  • Brown pork pieces in 2 or 3 batches so you don't crowd the pan.
  • Set aside browned pork.
  • Add Pasilla Paste to hot oil, and cook for 5 minutes or so over medium high heat, stirring regularly, until pasilla paste is reduced and thickened.
  • Add beef broth and stir in.
  • Add mushrooms, pork and cilantro.
  • Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until sauce is thickened to a degree where it won't be sloppy in tacos, and the pork is tender.
  • Check for seasoning.  Likely you will not need to add salt, but if you used homemade beef broth, you might.
  • Serve in corn tortillas with plenty of sweet onion and cilantro.