Thursday, December 25, 2008

Recipe: Flo's Kickass Pulled Pork

Today's world food that you can prepare at home is a fusion of French, Portuguese and the American South. In the USA pulled pork comes in many different ways and with a wide assortment of condiments. None though, are quite so easy nor nearly as delicious as Flo's Kickass Pulled Pork!

This is a recipe from my friend Andy's parents (and my friends as well) Chuck and Flo. For some reason my British and Antipodean friends always chuckle when they first hear the names "Chuck and Flo" but that is their quirk not my own. I'm adding this recipe to Chop Onions, Boil Water for three reasons: For one, it's a really good, crowd pleasing and delicious dish. Secondly, it is a breeze to prepare and most importantly I wanted an opportunity to write about Chuck and Flo.

I usually call this recipe "Flo's Kickass Christmas Pulled Pork" not because they only serve it at Christmas, but rather because that is how I associate it. You see, Chuck and Flo, really like Christmas and by that, I mean to say that they really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really LOVE Christmas (that's 50 really's in case you didn't count). I remember the first time Andy mentioned (warned) me about how they decorated their home:

Andy: "I have to help my parents string Christmas lights on the house this weekend."

Henry: "Oh, they like to decorate the house?"

Andy: "Yeah, they go nuts."

Henry: "Yeah, I've seen houses like that."

Andy: "No, I don't think you have."

I shrugged his last comment off. Thinking he was just internalizing and dramatizing the weekend task at hand.

I couldn't have been more wrong, the first time I visited their home around Christmas it was apparent. I was at least a half mile away from the house when I saw it. A glowing aura in the shape of a half-dome in the distance. NO LIE! Before I ever saw a single light on the house I could see the atmosphere around the property all a glow! In fact, there is a famous image of the first millisecond of a thermonuclear explosion that shared shocking similarities to the gigawatt induced luminescence that lay before me in the clear frosty cold Rhode Island night. My heart began to race.

I turned the final corner before their house - and there it was. It was overwhelming. A holiday display of such excess and surplus that I heard myself gasp. Imagine 279.533 (repeating) normal festively lit homes all physically inhabiting the same space. That is how it all looks (ordered and well executed of course). Electric glowing, festive, sparkly, splendor! Unfortunately, space restraints forbid a full inventory here, but trust me, it is an awesome spectacle. Plus it gets grander every year. Because through their generosity and charisma Chuck and Flo manage to cajole, influence or woo willing accomplices to their Christmas madness. In fact in the year 2004 they got a group of these goons to build a special Christmas train so that Choo-Choo-Christmas-Chuck can pull guests around the the Christmas yard and past all the Christmas lighting exhibits set-up in the yard. Even strangers showed up for rides. Where do they get these willing accomplices and participants from?

They've said that 2008 was the last Christmas in which they would create their seasonal spectacle. Some folks believe them, I'm wondering...

Flo's Kickass Christmas Pulled Pork

Fresh (unsmoked) pork shoulder
1 TBS. Gravy Master
1 TBS. Kitchen Bouquet
1 TBS. Garlic powder
12 ozs. hot crushed pepper (this is the "wet" variety that comes in a jar)

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Coat the pork with the combination of Gravy Master and Kitchen Bouquet.

Sprinkle all over with garlic powder.

Cover the pork with hot crushed red pepper.

Cover the pan and place in the oven for about 6-8 hours. If it looks like it is cooking too fast turn the oven down a little.

During the last 1-2 hours of cooking, baste the pork frequently to mix the crushed red pepper with the rest of the juices.

Shred (at this point the pork will just freely fall off the bone) and serve with fresh rolls or roasted potatoes.

Accept oohs, aahs, mmmms, yums, and praise from your family and guests.

Recipe: Flo's Kickass Pulled Pork from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Websites We Love:

Recommending is easy because their tag line says it all: a "Complete Source of Authentic Thai Recipes, ingredients and cookware." Their not kidding either. They have an extensive selection of both fresh and prepared Thai ingredients as well as a large collection of Thai cookware and recipes. What really makes them stand out from similar online Thai grocers though is their recipe blog featuring many online videos.

A Thai food enthusiast is going to get lost in the many videos showing how to prepare recipes, other videos of street vendors doing their thing, and others depicting how ingredients are made and even some cultural offerings like a Thai wedding ceremony, etc. also limits their offerings to their e-mail list to real offers and news of new videos. You can join this list without the worry of being annoyed by your inbox being flooded with the nonsense we've come to expect from other online companies. Sign up without worry.

So let's look at the tally:

A.) An extensive selection of fresh and prepared Thai ingredients and authentic cookware.

B.) Lots of authentic recipes.

C.) Tons of interesting and educational online videos featuring Thai cooking and culture.

Yup! We love for good reasons! Check them out!

From Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Taghrib (Tashreeb, Tharid, Thareed)

Today's world cuisine that you can prepare at home comes at you straight out of Babylon and time. Taghrib is a dish that can be traced back thousands of years. It is a popular meal in the middle east and comes in a variety of styles and range of ingredients. Versions that feature lamb and goat are common and the dish can contain an array of vegetables, spice combinations and garnishes. I do know that the prophet Mohammed enjoyed it because he thought enough of it to mention it. Jesus of Nazareth probably ate it as well. This dish is coming deep out of history folks, a lot of noteworthy people have enjoyed it and I am bargaining you will as well!

This recipe is based on several Iraqi ones that I found in my research. From what I read, taghrib's "comfort food" status in Iraq kind of makes it the equivalent of the US' "American Chop Suey". A common dish across the USA, every American family has its own recipe. It is the same with the Iraqi's and taghrib. Given my choice, I'm going for the taghrib instead of the American chop suey. It is a rich, flavorful and delicious dish that people should hear more about. It's kind of like a curry, but not quite. I also like the way it is ladled over flat bread instead of rice. It's an interesting twist and certainly lends itself to some tasteful, hands-on dining!

You can use a variety of flat breads as the base for taghrib, but the thinner ones like markouk or lavash are similar to the breads the Iraqi's use. My choice for this dish is Lebanese markouk. Markouk is a new favorite bread of mine. Very thin, chewy, delicious and about the size of the largest of large pizzas you could find. It is the perfect compliment for this dish. No worries though, naan, roti or pita will suffice nicely.

Finally, I added a bit of rosewater to this dish because I noticed many spice combinations for taghrib called for crushed rose petals. There are no crushed rose petals in my home, there's plenty of rose water. It worked out fine.

If you like hearty stews with a middle eastern slant, give taghrib a try. You're going to really enjoy this dish!

Chicken Taghrib

2-1/2 lbs. skinless chicken (I use thighs)
1/3 to 1/2 cup of olive oil
3 onions (frenched)
6 cloves garlic (smashed)
4 medium red potatoes (peeled and cut into 1-1/2" cubes)
2 bay leaves
2 TBS curry powder (I use Ship Brand Masala Curry)
1 TBS turmeric
1/2-3/4 TBS sea salt
2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp rose water
16 ozs. chickpeas (cooked or canned)
Markouk flat bread (or other flatbread like naan, pita, etc.)
Lemon wedges
Dried sumac (to taste)

Season the chicken with some salt, set aside.

Set a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil heats up, brown the chicken 1-2 pieces at a time. Remove and set aside.

Add the onions, garlic, potatoes, bay leaves, curry powder, turmeric and sea salt and cook, stirring frequently. Be sure to coat all the ingredients in the spice mixture. If the mixture seems a little too dry, add a little more oil. It's normal for some of the spices to stick to the pan. Be sure not to burn it. Continue cooking until the onions and potatoes begin to turn translucent. About 8 to 12 minutes.

Add the browned chicken, chicken broth, water and rose water, stir well to incorporate. Everything should just be covered by the water. Add or subtract water as necessary. Bring to a boil then lower to a medium simmer and continue to simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked and tender and the potatoes are tender but not mushy (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Add the chickpeas and allow to heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat.

Line the serving bowls with pieces of torn bread. Spoon the tashreeb into the bowls and sprinkle with sumac powder and a good twist of lemon juice.

Serve hot accompanied with a lemon wedge and extra sumac powder.

Recipe: Tashreeb Dijaaj from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Suppliers We Love:

I'm old enough to remember when the prospect of good home-prepared Mexican food was pretty dismal. Sure, if you lived in Southern California or the American Southwest you didn't have a problem. Not so in most other parts of the United States or Canada. The ingredients were scarce and homemade Mexican food was usually limited to ground beef taco "kits" and mediocre "chile con carne"! Those were the dark days of World Food at Home!

Thankfully, all that has changed. Today it is easy to prepare excellent Mexican food at home. Not only are there endless authentic resources to learn about preparing Mexican food, but our local markets are better supplied with key and specialty ingredients. When they're not, or if we are far from them, there are also great online suppliers like MexGrocer.

There are several reasons I like doing business with MexGrocer:

1.) They have everything I've ever needed but could not find in local markets. When I tried a new hot sauce in Mexico and could not find it in any local market or specialty shop, MexGrocer had it. It has been the same thing with other hard-to-find-products. I also frequently scan their online products just to get ideas for new ingredients and dishes to try.

2.) Their prices are good, and they frequently offer excellent discounts. It's also safe to sign up to their mailing list. You won't be inundated with weekly junk mail. Instead you'll get occasional e-mailings offering good discounts, useful information and great recipes.

3.) They are REAL people. They are not a "faceless corporate outfit" with an outsourced customer service department. I frequently get the impression that I am dealing with the owner or the owner's family when I contact them. I like that. I like that a lot.

4.) They offer more than just their products. I've gotten several good recipes from their site. Among them was a recent "Day of the Dead Bread" one that I made for my family (and they loved). I've also learned some great stuff from their various articles.

5.) They have supported Chop Onions, Boil Water in the past. Several years ago I mentioned that I would list them as a source for Mexican food products in my cookbook, they responded by offering my readers a 20% discount on purchases from

You can find some links of the MexGrocer products I use in the Chop Onions, Boil Water Kitchen Outlet. Of course I recommend that you purchase them there. I also recommend you visit their site if you're looking for other products to prepare Mexican food, or you're just looking to learn more about preparing it authentically in your home. MexGrocer is a Supplier We Love!

Suppliers We Love: from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Recipe: Roast Prime Rib of Beef

Today's world food that you can prepare at home is kind of ubiquitous. It really has no one place of origin. It is also quite possible the first cooked food: Roast Meat. Specifically: Roast Prime Rib of Beef.

Homemade prime rib is one of the special treats in my home. For one it's not the most economical cuts of beef you'll come across. Secondly, it's not one of the healthiest. It sure is good though! So this dish is reserved for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and the most important of all: days when it is on SALE!

It's preparation is not difficult, but the details vary and can be a little critical. Each cut of meat is different and each home oven is varies. Each precaution you execute in cooking your roast increases the quality of the final dish. For instance:

When purchasing your meat, talk to your butcher! Let them know your plans and the number of people you'll be serving. They're going to be a great help. Also, buy your meat several days in advance and let it sit in the bottom of your fridge (in its store packaging or a similar alternative). I believe this makes a difference in the flavor and tenderness. Some people are probably going to disagree, but I find it works for me. You'll want a good idea of how your oven performs as well. Does it hold an accurate temperature? Are there hotspots that will necessitate turning the roasting pan while cooking? Most people who cook a lot know their ovens well. If you don't, all this can be sorted out with an oven thermometer.

Finally, and most importantly, I highly recommend using a good remote electronic meat thermometer. NOTHING takes the work out of roasting beef, pork, turkey, venison, etc. than a remote electronic meat thermometer. It also cuts down on opening the oven and losing valuable heat and potentially burning yourself (yes, I've done this too many times).

What I write three times is my best cooking advice:

Get yourself a remote electronic meat thermometer.
Get yourself a remote electronic meat thermometer.
Get yourself a remote electronic meat thermometer.

Now, let's get to roasting some prime rib!

Roast Prime Rib of Beef

Prime Rib Roast (you choose the size, but at least a two rib roast)
1-4 cups kosher, rock or coarse sea salt (dependent upon the size of the roast)
1 cup white wine
1 can beef broth

Remove the roast from the fridge an hour or two before cooking.

Preheat your oven to 450°F

Mist down the roast with balsamic vinegar or water.

Pack the exposed meat areas (not the bone or fat areas) of the roast with the salt. You want it to stick to the roast as well as possible so apply some light pressure. Some will fall off. That's okay. It is better if it falls off while packing it rather than while roasting it.

Gently place the roast bone side down in an appropriately deep sided roasting pan (1"-2").

Place the roast in the oven and roast for 15 minutes at 450°F, after that,lower the oven temperature to 350°F until the meats cook to your desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to judge doneness:

105°F For an ultra-rare piece of meat.
110°F For a red and rare piece of meat.
115°F For a medium-rare piece of meat.
120°F For a piece of meat that is "done".

This is prime rib and anything above 120°F at this point is going to end up tough and dry.

When the roast reaches your desired doneness temperature remove it from the oven.

Carefully, lift the roast from the pan trying not to dislodge any of the salt. Place the meat on a tray or plate and using a pastry brush remove and discard all the salt from the roast.

Move the roast onto a sheet of aluminum foil and cover with another piece of aluminum foil. Seal the entire roast in the aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Keep the thermometer in it as the temperature will continue to increase. I find 10 degrees to be ideal. If it climbs faster or too high, unwrap it from the foil.

While the roast is resting:

Remove and discard any visible salt from the drippings in the roasting pan.

Place the roasting pan over a burner set on high. When pan and juices are hot, add the white wine to the pan and deglaze. Be sure to scrape up any bits of meat or crust stuck to the bottom of the pan.

When the wine evaporates, add the beef broth bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and continue simmering until the mixture is reduced by half. Remove the pan from heat. Reserve the juice in a bowl or gravy boat.

After the roast has rested 15 minutes, unwrap from the foil. Add any juices in the foil to the beef broth mixture.

Remove the chine bones in one slice by cutting just behind them. (These are the small, diagonally positioned bones on the wide end of the roast. Save these for picking at later as the meat surrounding them is tender and delicious!)

Slice the roast into desired serving sizes, plate and drizzle with juices.

Recipe: Roast Prime Rib of Beef from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk