February 26, 2013

Mexican Pulled Pork Stew

This was a total experiment. I had brought home a Pork Shoulder Roast on the weekend and planned to slow cook it for dinner on Monday night. As the afternoon passed I realized that I wouldn't have enough time to roast the big hunk of meat - not the first time that's happened. So out of necessity I started tinkering.

It was partly inspired by both a recent Cook's Illustrated Magazine and a Michael Smith Mexican stew recipe I had browsed in the mall while waiting for passport photos to develop. My end result certainly doesn't have much in common with it's roots but it sure tasted good.

I also throw some potatoes in the oven while doing a roast. It's an easy companion to the meat and the makes use of the oven which is already fired up. In this case I roasted sweet potato and russet wedges to put on top of the stew. Serve up a bowl of stew and top with a few big potato wedges. The sweetness of the potatoes compliments the subtle spice and smokiness of the stew. 
Mexican Pork Stew

Spice Roasted Sweet and Russet Potato Wedges

Mexican Stew
Browning the Meat (this step is all about flavour)
3lb Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt Roast (a touch fatty cut, usually tied up with string)
1 onion (big slices with grain)
2 cups button mushrooms  (quartered)
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil (to coat veggies)
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
Liberal shake of salt and pepper

For Stewing Sauce (mix it all together)
1-500ml can of Diced Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Honey + 1 Tsp Maple Syrup (added at the last minute)
2 Tbsp Lime Juice ( about 1 lime)
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Chipotles in Adobo Sauce (from a small can at the grocery store) (spicy stuff!)
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Oregano  (all herbs dried)
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Crushed whole Corriander Seeds
1/4 tsp Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

You'll need Roasting Pan ( high sides)
Casserole dish with lid.

Start by broiling meat and veggies to develop flavour (get the Maillard reaction going). Once this is complete you'll mix all the ingredients in a casserole dish and bake for 2-3 hours.

-Cut the roast into large 2" chunks (helps it cook more quickly), remove only big bits of fat/connective tissue
-Rub with S&P, Smoked Paprika, Cumin, and Coriander powders.

-Lay the pork in a roasting pan
-Surround the pork with chopped Onions, Mushrooms, and quashed garlic all  tossed in Olive Oil.
-Broil on High in oven until each side is browned and starting to sizzle. 10-15 minutes each side. Stir the Onions and Mushrooms so they don't burn but they should soften/caramelize a bit. Putting it on the lower rack helps even out the broil.

Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients to the casserole dish. The can of diced tomatoes, honey, lime juice, red wine vinegar,  and spices - chipotles in adobo, smoked paprika, cumin, chili pdr, oregano, thyme, corriander seeds, fennel seeds, and of course salt and pepper.

If you get it all together and are waiting for the pork then start preheating the casserole dish so that it doesn't cool down the meat.

Add the meat, onions, mushrooms, and garlic to the casserole dish.

Bake (covered) in a 325'F oven for 2 hours. At two hours it'll be plenty soft to eat (with nice texture) but if you want it to fall apart go longer (2.5 -3 hrs?).

The tomato base was thick and flavourful. It's not a spicy stew  - more on the side of cumin and smoke. A bit more Chipotle would have been good.

Roasted Sweet and Russet Wedges 

Meanwhile I roasted Sweet Potatoes and Russet Potatoes (with a few leftover beets from the garden). These made an excellent topping for the stew.

Cut wedges in order from largest to smallest  pieces Sweet Potatoes, Russets, and beets.  Sweet's cook quicker then potatoes and beets so they need to be in bigger chunks. Beets are the slowest.

Toss first in:
2 tsp Cumin powder
2 tsp Chili powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp black ground pepper

Now add Olive oil and toss. I learnt from my sister that tossing first in spices helps the spices stick to the surface of the potatoes, underneath the oil.

I baked in oven with roast (@ 325) for about  60 minutes, stirred them, then decided to cover them so they wouldn't dry out from the long slow roasting. I stirred them again before finally uncovered at the end to caramelize them a bit.

 They had a nice soft texture, with caramelized and spicy flavour. They were not like my normal oven roasted dense chewy wedges (roasted hot and fast).

February 25, 2013

Coire Dubh Integrale

On Friday Seb and I climbed Coire Dubh Integrale. It ascends a gully on Goat Mountain, at the edge of the Rockies. In fact you start among the prairie grasses. The route climbs through short steps of waterfall ice, snow slopes, and a couple interesting rock sections. The wind was ridiculous as we descended the ridge - knocking us off our feet. 

Coire Dubh Integrale ascends the gully in the center of the photo, topping out on the ridge.

Hiking the snow slopes

Fun rock climbing in Crampons and gloves on the first rock band.

Seb starting the final rock section

Reedonkulus wind on the ridge.

Almost down to the highway with sun setting in the Bow Valley.

Grotto Falls Ice Climb

Seb leading Grotto Falls
On the final day of our climbing week, Seb and I headed into Grotto Canyon for some mixed climbing. We started off the day with a ramble up Grotto Falls, a friendly WI3 at the back of a pretty little canyon.

Vivid shadows on the ice

Rappelling out of a blue sky

Seb on the left hand side of the "His" mixed climb.
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Chanilly Falls

Topping out Chantilly Falls at Evan Thomas Creek in Kananaskis, Alberta
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February 09, 2013

Fernie Hashbrowns

Cooked up these hashbrowns while I was in Fernie. BC with family. I key is to use Russet Potatoes and Bacon fat. This past year I've been doing hashbrowns backwards. Instead of frying boiled or baked potatoes, I start by frying raw potatoes until they are caramelized then I add a touch of water to steam them soft. This way I get the flavour of a fried potato with interior of a soft steamed potato while only having to use 1 pan and no additional steps to pre-cook the potato. Makes for a quick breakfast! Topping with bacon and green onion is a nice touch.
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