Creamed Hominy

This one’s pretty straightforward, but I want you to enjoy it as much as I did, so I’m posting it!  If you like hominy (and you should like hominy), you’ll love creamed hominy.

4 cups fresh (or fresh frozen) hominy
1 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp butter, separated
dash of raw sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Rinse the hominy and pour into a stock pot or slow cooked (I prefer the latter). Cover completely with water, add a dash of salt, and boil for approximately an hour. Reduce heat to low and cook for about another four hours, until hominy is tender but still firm. It can now be cooked, or stored for future use within (This step can be skipped if you’re using canned hominy, bless your heart. If you’re using raw, unsoaked hominy, follow these steps–you are a braver cook than I!)

2. Drain the water from the hominy and pour it back into a stock pot with the cream. Bring just to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to simmer, stirring constantly.

3. Add butter, sugar, salt, and pepper. Continue to stir until all ingredients are melted and well mixed, cooking over low heat as hominy achieves a thick, creamy texture. Serve warm as an addictive and filling side dish.

Serves 4.

You could also use corn. But it won’t be nearly as buttery and delicious!

Shown above with butternut squash and potatoes roasted in bacon fat and olive oil, with a little salt, pepper, and fresh sage and rosemary, topped off with a little grated parmesan.


Shanita’s Arroz Verde con Puerco

One of the first things I did when we got back to Austin after the New Year was email Shanita with an order for two jars of Hal’s Hot Love!  The fridge was near-empty, and so I subsequently made a run to Wheatsville to stock up on all the basics (for us: coffee, butter, eggs, and grits!).  I noticed some moderately priced, pre-sliced pork, so I grabbed a portion, having no idea what I would do with it.  I’m not really a big pork eater; I don’t really enjoy pork chops or ham–just bacon!

When Shanita dropped off our salsita order, we started talking about recipes, and she suggested I use some Hal’s to spice up the rice I was considering cooking.  Thus a brilliant idea was born–I will be having Shanita’s Arroz Verde regularly!  I decided to throw the quickly pan-cooked pork in there, along with some sliced green bell pepper and a garnish of homegrown jalapeños.  So easy! This one was a surefire, spicy winner.

2 cups white rice
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb. sliced pork (I used boneless chops)
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup Hal’s Hot Love jalapeño and roasted garlic salsa
1 raw jalapeño, finely sliced

1. Combine rice, a dash of salt, and about 4 cups of water in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Stir; reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if necessary.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add pork, bell peppers, cumin, and half the black pepper. Sauté until pork is just cooked through (you do not want to see any pink meat), about ten minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Drain rice and return to stock pot. Away from the heat source, drizzle in the cream, salsa, salt, and the rest of the black pepper and mix thoroughly with a large spoon.

4. Spoon portions of rice out into bowls, and top with pork and pepper mixture; garnish with jalapeño slices and serve immediately.

Makes four servings.

Stella’s Aloo Palak

This is a pretty basic Indian recipe that I tweaked from various versions online, and it was surprisingly easy and filling! I’d never before thought about making a spinach purée, and now I’m thinking of ways to work it into other, non-Indian dishes. As any of you Indian food lovers know, “aloo” means potatoes, and the “palak” here simply means spinach – spinach potatoes! This recipe is characteristically North Indian, and makes a versatile, healthy side dish.

1 lb. fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 green chiles, chopped (I used homegrown jalapeños)
1/2 lb. potatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp turmeric
4 Tbsp butter, halved
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp fresh cream (optional)
salt, to taste

1. Boil the potatoes in a stock pot with a dash of salt and the turmeric until they are just cooked, approximately ten minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt half the butter over medium heat. Add spinach along with the garlic, ginger, jalapeños, and onions, and cook for about ten minutes until spinach is just wilted.

3. Remove the spinach mixture into a food processor and blend into a purée. Set aside.

4. In the original skillet, melt remaining butter and mix in the coriander seed. Add spinach purée and simmer for about three minutes. Next add the cooked potatoes and cumin. Sprinkle with a little water, and stir. Aloow to cook for a few more minutes, so the flavors will be absorbed.

5. Add cream (if using), stir thoroughly, and serve immediately.

Makes four side servings.

Pictured here with Rum-Spiced Carrots

Rum-Spiced Carrots

This one is so easy, but I promise it will transform those boring old carrots in your crisper into a delectable side dish!

1 lb. carrots, sliced to desired shape
water, for boiling
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp dark spiced rum
dash of salt, to taste

1. Place carrots in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for approximately ten minutes, until barely tender. Drain.

2. Reduce heat to low. Add butter and cinnamon; stir, and cook for a further couple of minutes. Finally, add the rum, stir again and let simmer for about ten minutes. This gives you a little leeway in finishing up whatever your main course.

3. When fully cooked, carrots should be soft but not falling apart; the liquid should’ve cooked off, and they should smell rich and sweet. Using a slotted spoon, serve immediately.

These also keep well, and can be reheated for several days’ worth of easy leftovers! Enjoy!

Shown above with Stella’s Aloo Palak.

Stella’s Frijoles Negros Refritos

Special double shout-out to Shanita in this post! Both for the delicious salsa seen here, and for the motivation to properly cook my own pot of beans!

For the crock pot
1 lb. dried black beans
1 heaping tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow or white onion, roughly chopped
~1 Tbsp Cholula hot sauce
room temperature water

For the skillet
2 Tbsp bacon fat or lard
2 Tbsp olive oil, halved
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
fresh cilantro, for garnish

I didn’t soak these beans. There are varying opinions on this, and most cooks claim that soaking the beans for eight hours or longer will make them easier to digest (e.g. less gassy). I honestly cannot tell the difference, and even the eminent Diana Kennedy, in From My Mexican Kitchen: Techniques and Ingredients, says soaking is generally a waste of time. I leave it up to you.

1. Pour dried beans into a colander in the sink and rinse thoroughly with cool water, removing any stones, debris, or damaged beans.

2. Put the beans into the crock pot, pour in room temperature water just high enough to cover, and turn heat to high. Cook for about one hour, adding more water if necessary.

3. Reduce heat to low. Add all other crock pot ingredients, stir, re-cover, and cook for six to eight hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary. Try the beans after about four hours to see if they are done. Allow the water to be absorbed in the final couple of hours of cooking time, or drain off excess before continuing. Here you can either freeze, refrigerate, or re-fry the beans (as below).

4. Over medium heat, melt bacon fat or lard in a large, flat skillet. Add olive oil, then stir in beans. Using a potato masher or table fork (I find the latter works much better), smash all of the beans in the pan, stirring in the oil as you go. Add salt and garlic powder, to taste. You can leave your beans chunky, or smash them to a smooth consistency; I prefer the latter.

5. Scoop out beans and serve garnished with cilantro, cheese, and/or sour cream.

You can also freeze or refrigerate refried beans. Try to use them within one week if refrigerated. To reheat, sprinkle with water and microwave; or, re-fry a second time.

Shown here with breakfast tacos and Hal’s Hot Love, a creamy garlic jalapeño from Shanita’s Salsitas.