Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Zero Is Not Enough Degrees

It is currently very sunny where I am. It is also one degree. We got a heavy blanket of snow over the weekend and then the temperature plummeted. Facebook feeds filled up with friends' experiments with throwing pots of water into the air to become mere puffs of cloud, blowing bubbles to see them freeze, and discovering how many excuses they could come up with to use the oven.

Our oven's been pretty well-used this week, as well. Sunday night, I slathered a chicken with mashed garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, and olive oil. Before roasting it, I stuck the juiced lemon halves and several sprigs of rosemary inside. It was delicious, very tender and flavorful. To accompany the chicken, I cooked rice in chicken stock and added onions and garlic I'd sautéed in olive oil and heated up some corn.

Last night, I made a Cuban dinner with puerco asado (roast pork loin), black beans & rice, maduros (fried ripe plantains), and a green salad. Jeannene often says that our relationship was sealed when I made fried plantains for we the first time. I like mine very, very ripe. I don't know about other places, but it's very hard to find ripe plantains at my grocery, so I usually buy them a couple weeks before I plan to cook them, so they have a chance to get nice and black. I peel them, slice them on the diagonal, heat some oil in a skillet, and cook them until they're deep golden brown all over.

I was disappointed not to be able to find any yuca in our new area. I know they have it in Mexicantown, but I was not about to drive an hour with the roads in terrible condition, so I had to forego the fried yuca. I also forgot to get avocados, so our salad was plain spring mix. I usually slice up some avocado and onion to serve with butter lettuce and a dressing of olive oil & lime juice. I also cheated with the black beans, simply doctoring a can of Goya black bean soup with a splash of lime. Ah, well. It was tasty, if not my own.

My pork loin was gorgeous and the house smelled divine when Jeannene arrived home after a long work day bookended by rough drives. Without a meat thermometer (still packed somewhere from our move), I just relied on the usual cook time & it turned out well. I just served it with pan juices, but you can also make or buy mojo criollo to serve with it.

Puerco Asado
5 lb boneless pork loin
3-5 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp oregano
Salt & pepper
1/4 c lime juice
1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1 c dry red wine
A few bay leaves

Early in the day, poke the roast all over with a knife. Mash garlic with oregano, salt, and pepper into a paste. Rub paste all over the roast and place it in a gallon ziploc with bay leaves. Pour the liquids over it and seal. Marinate at least 2 hours, turning from time to time. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove roast from marinade and pat dry. Discard bay leaves, but save marinade. Put meat in a roasting pan and insert a meat thermometer. Roast about 2 and a half hours, to 165 degrees, pouring marinade over the roast halfway through the cooking time and basting often. Place on platter and tent with foil, allowing it to stand at least 10 minutes before slicing. Serves 8 & makes great sandwiches if you have less than 8.

If you want to try your hand at mojo sauce, mash 7-10 cloves garlic to a thick paste with a teaspoon of salt. Mix with a very thinly sliced onion, 1/4 c. orange juice, & 1/4 c. lime juice. Allow to stand 1/2 hour. Just before serving, heat 1/2 c. Spanish olive oil until very hot. You can use oil from Italy or other countries, but I think Spanish tastes the best. Add the garlic mixture (be careful, because it will likely spatter) & mix well before serving hot with the pork. It's also good with chicken, fish, root veggies (like yuca!), and plantain chips.

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