Sunday, April 8, 2012

Still Here

I know it has been an exceptionally long time since my last post. Somewhere in the Golden Rules of Blogging (that doesn’t really exist, I just made it up), it says not to mention it when you have not posted to your blog in a long time, not to apologize or give excuses. Here, though, I think I have good reason to break that rule because I have been a neglectful blogger due to a positive change in my life that I would like to share. In early February, I started not only a new job, but I ventured down a new career path. It has been an adjustment and I’ve been busy. Also, until recently, I simply haven’t been in the blogging mindset. This job change is actually a career that I considered seriously while I was in university, but, for various reasons, abandoned and went to culinary school instead. The career I speak of is editing and it is something I have been drawn to for a long time. Right now, I am an editor for subtitles for theatrical movie releases. I work on creating and editing subtitles for English movies so that they can be translated into other languages to screen the film in non-English speaking places. And I love it. For the first time in my life, I am really excited about my job and I plan on keeping it for as long as they’ll let me.

I still love to cook, to learn about food and cooking, and to write about it all, but through various experiences, I have learned that I do not enjoy working in food service. It has taken trying out a number of different food-related jobs for me to realize that the type of cooking I love to do, the type that I get excited about and love to talk about, is the cooking I do at home, in my own kitchen, where I am in charge and where there is no pressure for speed or perfection. So, for the time being at least, I am going to hang up my white coat to be a home cook while my professional life will be a whole different ball game.

And now, on to more important things: food! Last weekend, I was feeling experimental so I decided to make tamale pie, which I not only had never cooked before, but I had never eaten before, either. Apparently, though, it’s an American classic, and I heard many people talk about it while I was living in the US. I decided that it was about time I gave it a go.
For those of you who, like me, have remained woefully ignorant of the exciting world of tamale pie, it is really exactly what it sounds like. It’s sort of like a Mexican-American version of shepherd’s pie: the filling consists of meat, peppers, and whatever else you might stuff or top a tamale with, and the topping is a sort of cornbread, similar to the breading in tamales (only, not really, since it gets baked, not steamed). It sounded pretty good to me, so I started scouring the Internet for the best-reviewed tamale pie recipe I could find.
As someone who has never had tamale pie before, I am not exactly very knowledgeable on the subject, but I think I found a winner with the recipe I used from Epicurious. The author is Molly Stevens, which is a good sign. She wrote the James Beard Foundation award-winning All About Braising: the Art of Uncomplicated Cooking, so the braised pork filling in this pie is exquisite.

The steps for making the filling are like most braises, but with a few unique aspects. As usual, we start by browning the meat.
Next, we sweat onions and minced jalapeno. Then, cumin, coriander, and oregano are stirred in.
After deglazing with chicken stock, the braise gets started. Into the pot goes salsa verde and that begins the process for the first thirty minutes. Then, we add roasted peppers and (I like this part) pureed corn.
 As you might imagine, this makes for a very thick, chunky kind of stew. There are a lot of flavours in there, and they have plenty of time to develop as the pork braises for the next hour and a quarter.

The topping, as I said, is basically cornbread. Once the filling is done, it gets transferred into a cast iron skillet, cheese is added, and the batter gets dropped on top. Bake for a half hour or so, and dinner is ready.
This dish is not going to win any beauty contests, but it is delicious enough for that to be unimportant. The pork filling is rich and has a nice kick that is well balanced by the cornbread. A dollop of sour cream is a nice addition, too, so put some out at the table.
The recipe link is below, and I only made one minor change when I cooked it. I couldn’t find poblano chilies at any of the stores near me; so instead, I used three medium green bell peppers and a jalapeno in their place. This worked well: poblanos are very mild chilies, so the green peppers plus a little heat from the jalapeno were good replacements.

I hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy it. And stay tuned, because I’m not going anywhere.

1 comment:

  1. oh man, I would totally be doing this right now if we had any jalapeno… or meat…or good coriander. You are making my mouth water! I will have to try it as soon as I find the requisite business.