Monday, December 14, 2009

Recession Cooking in the Deep Freeze 101

Brrrrr! Last week, after two days of cold and snow, we have finally started to warm up a bit. There was a huge storm blanketing the country and Colorado was smack, dab in the middle feeling the brunt of the intense cold. One night our temperature got down to -15 degrees. Needless to say, this south Texas transplant only opened the door to let my dog out to do his business (poor thing). I didn’t go to the grocery store for four days which was a record for me. I usually go everyday or every other day at the most for something or other. This is the reason that a bottle of milk usually costs me $40.00 by the time I leave the store. It was really a test of skill and imagination around here to whip up something delicious and new without leaving the house for supplies. After this exercise, I now feel confident that I could not only win at “Ready Steady Cook!” but I wouldn’t need any professional help to do it. The following recipes are some that I made during my time while I was shut in. I'm passing these recipes on to you in paragraph form this time because I really didn't use exact measurements for them. These are just guidlines for recipes that I hope you make your own by adding a bit more here or a bit less there or adding a few of your own favorite ingredients.

Luckily for us, on my last trip to the market before storm I took advantage of some after Thanksgiving sales of big meat. I got a big bone in ham and a pork roasting joint that are always inexpensive but that day I only spent $10.00 for both. I love taking the ham (about 5 pounds or 2 – 1/2 kilos) and slow boiling it for an hour or so to remove the excess salt, then placing it in 300 degree F (150C) oven for a couple of hours to heat through. I sliced about half of the it for dinner that night and sandwiches the next day, then froze the rest to use later. The pork joint is easier because all I do to it is rub it down with my favorite spice rub, place it in a preheated 325 degree F (160C) oven, uncovered for about an hour and a half a pound (500g) or, in my case about 6 hours. It may look dry but my 4 pound (2 kilo) joint was fall off the bone tender and juicy when I removed it from the oven (be sure to let the meat rest for ten minutes or so before slicing). This is a breakdown on how I used my leftovers for the next few days.

Day one: I sliced it and served it the traditional way with gravy and mashed potatoes.



Slow Roasted Pork Joint


Day two: I shredded the remaining roast, made some barbeque sauce (click on the "Sauce" heading on the left side of this page for the recipe) and some coleslaw, used about 2 cups of the meat, divided it equally among 4 toasted hamburger buns, topped it with the sauce and the coleslaw and Bob’s your uncle, that night we enjoyed great pulled pork sandwiches. My family didn’t even think about it being leftover from the night before. Serve these incredible sandwiches with crisps or chips and your family will love you forever. Don’t have buns? This is great on jacket potatoes too.



Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Slaw and Homemade Barbeque Sauce


Day three: I incorporated a bit of my leftover sliced ham from the freezer, pan fried it, placed it on a split French baguette that has been lightly spread with wholegrain mustard. I added a couple of the cups of shredded pork joint which I had warmed, a couple of thick slices of room temperature gruyere cheese, and some dill pickle slices. I closed the sandwich, cut it into 3 equal portions, buttered the outside of the bread and placed it in a hot non-stick pan. I then took my “kitchen brick” which is a plain old building brick that I have covered in foil and placed it on top to press down the sandwich. After a few minutes when it was browned, I turned it over and repeated the last step. The result is a delicious Cuban sandwich that your family will love. I usually serve it with a mayonnaise and mustard mixture on the side to spread on the sandwich if they seem to be a bit dry.



Cuban Sandwiches


There was still a little bit of meat leftover and I made a simple pasta sauce by frying a couple of rashers of diced streaky bacon until they are almost crisp, adding a small diced onion, a handful of diced mushrooms, a finely diced carrot, 2 finely diced stalks of celery. Saut̩ the vegetables until they begin to soften, and then add a large crushed garlic clove, saut̩ for a minute longer before adding 1/2 cup red wine and 2 tablespoons tomato puree. Stir the mixture well before adding a 1/2 cup of water or vegetable or meat broth, then add the remaining shredded pork (1-2 cups) and simmer slowly to cook off the alcohol. While this was cooking, I prepared about 1/2 pound (250g) ziti (or your favorite pasta) according to the package directions, drained it and tossed it with the sauce. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste before serving it with grated parmesan cheese. This will serve 4 Р6 people.



Shredded Pork Pasta Bolognese


With the some of the remaining ham I made a ham, cheese and red pepper quiche. I preheated my oven to 375 F (190C), took a store bought pastry crust and lined a pie pan with it, mixed 5 large eggs, 1/4 cup (65ml) cream, 1 cup diced ham, 1/4 of a large red bell pepper, finely diced, a couple of tablespoons very finely diced onion, 1 jalapeno pepper (optional, without seeds and membranes) and a cup of my favorite shredded cheese. Give this all a good stir, pour it into an uncooked pastry case and pop it into the preheated oven and cook it for 30 – 40 minutes or until it is brown and firm in the middle. Sorry there's no photo of this great quiche but we ate it so quickly, I quite honestly forgot.

I hope these recipes inspire you to cook frugally with the knowledge that you can make something fresh and delicious a couple of nights in a row with the same main ingredient.
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