I think I qualify as a homesick Texan, although clearly I’m not on par with the Homesick Texan. However, some of the items I have gone out of my way to find or reproduce here include: pickled jalapenos, sour cream, hot sauce, tortillas, and guacamole, something which would never have happened before I moved to Texas ten years ago. I find myself increasingly browsing her site, searching for recipes that will bring me the most accurate taste of home!
My first experience making carnitas was after my friend Nick over at Gourmet Heathen made them for us following a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. His turned out juicy, yet crusty and caramelized. Mine, due to an omission in one step of the recipe, turned out dry and dull, and exceedingly disappointing. I was crushed, and although I was eventually able to reproduce his lovely results, never grew to like that recipe. It seemed to me that the process was far too fussy, which was part of the reason I had accidentally left out a step the first time I made them.
Enter moving to Spain and not having a real oven. I couldn’t have made the Cook’s Illustrated recipe if I wanted to, but I knew that if I were able to cobble together carnitas, it would be an extra-special treat for Matt, who loved them. After a bit of internet research, I came upon Lisa’s recipe, which seemed far too straight forward and simple. But I’ve been so pleased with the quality of the meat here so far, I thought I would give it a shot.
What brilliant results! Gently rendering the fat from the bits of pork in water before allowing it all to boil off is genius, and incredibly easy. Once the meat was tender, I was able to easily shred it up right in the pot, allowing it to crisp even further and sparing myself the tedious task of slicing each individual piece in half before laying them out to broil, as called for in the Cook’s Illustrated recipe. It was a moment’s work to put my pre-assembled condiments on the table, making this one of the easiest, but tastiest, dinners I have made yet.
Recipe courtesy of the Homesick Texan
Get yourself a half a kilo of pork butt, which may necessitate some on the fly google translate and fun pantomimes with your local butcher. Cut your pork into strips, or chunks, or what have you, just cut it up so the fat can render nicely in your liquid. Add a cup of orange juice, three cups of water and a generous dash of salt. Bring to a simmer and cover. RESIST THE URGE TO POKE THE MEAT. Let render for two hours.
Turn the heat up and let the remaining liquid boil off. The meat should be fork tender, and now is a good time to shred it up if you like. Stirring the pot a few times should break up any big chunks, but the smaller you shred it, the more crispy bits you’ll get as it continues to cook in the rendered fat.
Serve when browned, crisp, and shredded to your liking. I highly recommend Homesick Texan’s Pico de Gallo recipe, warm flour tortillas, fresh avocado and some sour cream as accompaniments to this dish.
Expat sour cream:
Mix 20cL of creme fraiche with 125g of plain yogurt and the juice from one lemon. Blend well, whipping as necessary to obtain your desired texture.
There’s an entire aisle devoted to pickles at my local Carrefour, and not one jar of dill pickles.
Pickled asparagus, pickled green beans, beets, peppers, and more line the shelves. If I make a field trip to El Corte Ingles, I can find sweet gherkin-style pickles both large and small, pickles speared on a toothpick with onions and peppers, jars of German style and Hungarian style pickles. But I didn’t want to buy a jar and be disappointed. So I made my own.
These were perfect, with the spot-on garlic dill flavor, and now I just keep a jar of brine in my fridge that I refill periodically with pickles. The most accurately “garlic dill” flavor and texture comes from pouring the hot brine over the packed pickles, but cold-brining works just fine for my purposes. So easy, I can’t believe I never tried it before!
Garlic Dill Pickles
Recipe courtesy of Food in Jars
Slice a bunch of cucumbers into coins, spears, or whatever you like. You can even leave them whole if you want. Pack them into a clean glass jar and add a pinch of dill seed, a shake of black peppercorn, and a few smashed garlic cloves to the jar. Add dried red pepper flakes if you want.
On the stove, bring equal parts vinegar and water to a simmer, with a spoonfulof salt. Pour the hot brine into your pickle jar. Let cool, then pop it in the fridge.
I’d comment on how long they stay good, but they go really quickly in this house so I haven’t the foggiest clue!
In 2008, I came to Europe for the holidays and discovered currywurst.
On the train, at restaurants, but most notably, from food stalls at the Christmasmarkets, served piping hot with extra heapings of sauce. I was powerless to resist their pungent spice and deep fried goodness.
The weather here has cooled notably in the past couple of weeks and one day I found myself craving currywurst. But I’m 1,000 miles from Germany. What to do?
Why, make my own. And what a coincidence, this just happened to be the week Savuer’s weekly email featured a recipe for currywurst sauce.
In a saucepan over medium heat, saute 1 chopped onion in a little oil until translucent. Add a generous 2 T curry powder and 1 T hot paprika, stir until fragrant. Crush a can of peeled canned tomatoes with your hands and add to the pan along with the sauce. Add 1/2 c sugar and 1/4 c vinegar. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, until thickened. Strain the sauce through a colander, or if you happen to have a kitchen that actually has appliances, blend it until smooth.
Serve hot over hot sliced sausage with a roll or, if you like, patatas fritas, on the side.
Bonus! Easy patatas fritas:
Patatas fritas are a very traditional tapas dish, especially popular over here laced with a spicy tomato sauce and mayonnaise. They work wonderfully with currywurst, and the leftovers can be mixed with eggs and chorizo for an easy breakfast hash.
Boil potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and peel. Slice potatoes into chunks. Fry in about an inch of hot olive oil until brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes per side. Drain, toss with salt and serve immediately!
The most terrible thing has happened. I’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the last month of my pregnancy. Just when all I want to eat are pastries, gelato, and churros with chocolate, I’ve been reduced to monitoring my blood sugar four times a day and strictly following a 2,000 calorie diet. Woe is me!
Since I simply can’t let anything well enough alone, I’ve been playing around with the diet to figure out what things I can eat and make that still fit within the guidelines and keep my blood sugar to a reasonable level. I discovered this last week that fish sticks are *not* one of those things. But you might be surprised to learn what delicious meals I’ve been able to put together!
Below are my guidelines. I generally stick to the same items for most of the day and allow myself some creativity for dinner. That is, I follow the guidelines but I might substitute bread products, or cheese for yogurt. If I ate all the yogurt on the diet I would have 5 yogurts a day! They love Activia here.
What would you make given these dietary restrictions?
Breakfast: 200 cc milk or 2 yogurts, 40 g baguette, or 4 whole wheat toasts or 30 g cereal, 30 g of cheese, turkey or ham.
Mid morning snack: 20 g baguette or 2 whole wheat toasts plus one yogurt.
Lunch: 1 plate of salad or greens,* 2 servings of carbs** or one serving plus 40 g baguette or 80 g baguette, 125 g of meat or 150 g of fish, one serving of fruit.
Afternoon snack: 1 yogurt or 50 g cheese plus 20 g baguette, or 1 serving of fruit plus 1 yogurt.
Dinner: 1 plate of salad or greens, 2 servings of carbs or 1 serving plus 40 g baguette or 80 g baguette, and two of the following in any combination: A) 50 g cheese, B) 75 g fish, C) one egg, D) 40 g sausage, E) 50 g meat. Dessert - one serving of fruit.
Night: 1 yogurt or half a glass of milk
* One plate of salad equals about 200 g of low carb veggies. Most veggies are okay, one that is not is peas.
** One serving of carbs can be 40 g of bread, 40 g of beans, 100 g of potatoes, or 30 g of uncooked pasta or rice.