Monday, December 04, 2006


So, what do you do if you have 10 people showing up for a book club/dinner tomorrow night and won't be able to leave work early enough to cook - you cook the night before. And so tonight, armed with my list of ingredients, I headed off to the grocery store. I had found a fabulous looking Pork Chili with Tomatoes on epicurious (a great place to look for recipes, especially if you're already at work and realize that you need to stop at the store before going back home). Basically, it had me at the poblanos. I don't know what it is about them, but I love just about anything made with poblanos.

My first stop was the standard grocery (lower prices, but fewer options with produce, etc.) where I picked up a phenomenal amount of pork as well as the other ingredients. With 4 very heavy bags weighing down my hands (did I really need the 5lb bag of sugar, when I'm not quite out and had 2 huge cans of stock for this recipe - No), I staggered the two (Avenue) blocks home.

I then darted back out to the good grocery to get the poblanos, non-anemic looking cilantro and green onion, etc. And they didn't have any poblanos. Yes, it's December. But I would have sworn they had some in last week, but maybe it was indeed last month. And now, I'm stuck with 7 (count 'em) 7 pounds of pork and no poblanos. It's too late (i.e., it's 8pm and I haven't eaten anything for tonight's dinner yet either) to choose another dish and so I'll improvise. I'm totally fine with improvising. Except, I've never really improvised with heat/a fairly main ingredient to this extent.

The store has some nice looking Italian Sweet Peppers and some beautiful Jalepenos (turns out I don't know how to do a tilda on my computer). I buy about the right amount of Italian Sweet Peppers and a handful of the Jalepenos. But how many to actually add? The quickest way to make a chili dinner into a pizza dinner is to add too many and then you're dialing. My gut told me one, but I really hate bland food too.

It turns out that we are left relatively on our own on issues like these. I tried the usual sources for basic facts - The Joy of Cooking (actually, I didn't really think they'd list it in Equivalents, but I had it open for the pie I'm baking next (if I don't fall asleep first)), but they only do food size conversions (of course that would have been useful about 2 hours earlier when I was trying to figure out how many onions was 6 cups (I'm also really bad at figuring out how many yards I am from the green - but there they give you nice little markers, right where you need them). I've enclosed a picture, not because I really think anyone doubts that Joy of Cooking was not helpful, but because I've never taken a picture of a book (and it's not like this site is going to win any photo awards anyway) - see 'Green Peppers' right at the top, but no Poblanos (and no heat conversions anyway):

Then I tried my mother, who was clearly not dealing with reality, "Why not just half and half?" (Uh, mom, have you ever tried a Jalapeno?). But then, a flash, "Wait, last night I made soup and put in 2 Jalapenos, O & I thought it was perfect, but F thought it was too hot". Given that my mother has no taste buds in her mouth (she could not eat the spice level she eats if she had any left, I figured that 1 or 1+) was perfect. (Thanks mom!)

So, it's been reducing for about 20 minutes (and it needs to reduce a bunch because the largest pot I have is an 8 Qt, which turns out to be about 2c too small) and I tried a bite. It definitely needs some time, but I figured it was pretty obviously a little too bland. I cut up half of one of the back-up Jalapenos (already roasted, I'm not a total idiot) and walked over to the pot. And that's when it hit (okay, so clearly it needs to simmer for a while to bring those flavors together). I did add a bit more of the chopped Jalapeno, but figured I didn't need the whole half.

Looks pretty good (and how cool is the steam), now I just need to stay awake for another hour. Oh yeah, and make the pie.


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