Tag Archives: cumin

Puerco Pibil | “Once Upon A Time In Mexico”

By Blake Stilwell

Before we begin the recap, let it be known that I both love this film and am aware it’s supposed to be over the top. I love Robert Rodriguez’ work. Everything from the camera work to the acting is great. I love this series. BUT let me also say I think this last movie in the Mexico Trilogy might have been a little too over the top. At times I thought of how far the Batman series fell before Christopher Nolan got his hands on it.

I want to hit him too.

I still want to hit him too.

That being said, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the heartwarming story of the redemption of a man who lost it all fighting the good fight against greed, corruption and the many iterations of Cheech Marin. El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) gathers his gang of two other Mariachi played by Enrique Iglesias and Marco Leonardi, an Italian, for one last big adventure. Why an Italian? Who knows. Cartel kingpin Barillo is played by Willem DaFoe with a tan.

I LOVE THE SUN, ALRIGHT?

I LOVE THE SUN, ALRIGHT?

The only problem is that El Mariachi, who is destitute and in hiding, swore off violence, and is struggling with the loss of his wife, the last bare midriff in all of Mexico.

RIP

RIP

Honestly, even women who dress more modestly in Mexico don’t fare much better. It’s rough out there, even for a waitress.

Unnecessary.

She’d have been better off serving Steve Buschemi in Reservoir Dogs.

This movie is incredibly action-packed, which is a code word for violent. Not that I’m not okay with movie violence, I just think taking the time to stop and aim would be to everyone’s benefit.

Cover is optional.

Also, cover is optional.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico also holds the record for most railing-related and falling-after-being-shot-related deaths.


In the mix, we have an FBI Agent, an American fugitive, a Federale subplot and it’s all tied together… This whole scenario is orchestrated by a CIA agent named Sands, played by Johnny Depp, who’s much better outside of Tim Burton movies than I remember and I probably don’t remember since it’s been a long time since I saw him outside a Tim Burton movie. Yes, I know he did The Lone Ranger, but if no one else saw it, why should I?

Sands’ favorite meal in Mexico is Puerco Pibil, with a tequila and lime. It’s featured in the movie so often, it should get its own IMDB Page.


The recipe for this is simple, but it requires time to marinate, so be sure to prep a few hours before you watch this movie, because halfway through, you’ll want your own. If you don’t know a good recipe, you’re in luck! Robert Rodriguez includes his own on DVD extras.  Here it is:

5 lbs pork butt, cubed into 2 inch pieces
5 tablespoons annatto seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
8 whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
2 red habanero peppers, diced (remove seeds and membrane)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
8 cloves garlic
5 lemons peeled & juiced
1 tablespoon tequila
banana leaves

Directions
1. Put annato seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, allspice and cloves in a clean coffee grinder and grind very fine.
2. Put orange juice, white vinegar, habanero peppers, ground spice powder, salt, garlic, lemon juice and tequila in blender.
3. Blend until smooth.

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We used a food processor.

4. Place cubed pork and liquid from blender in zip loc bag and marinate for one hour.
5. Line a 9×13 baking pan with banana leaves. (if you don’t have banana leaves handy, aluminum foil works)
6. Pour pork mixture directly on top of banana leaves and cover with more banana leaves.
7. Cover tightly with foil.
8. Bake at 325 degrees for 4 hours.

Incredibly simple to make, even if you don’t have the banana leaves. Don’t forget the rice!

It may not be the prettiest, but it's the most delicious. Please don't shoot me.

It may not be the prettiest, but it’s the most delicious. Please don’t shoot me.

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Aubergine Stew | “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

Star Trek is a show with which most people have some familiarity, especially now that the JJ Abrams movies are popular (don’t get me started on that). Star Trek is a permanent entry in the US pop culture lexicon. Most people know at least who Captain Kirk is and who Mr. Spock is, but beyond that, it is left to the fans of the shows to know who is who on the Enterprise, who does what on the ship, and so on. It takes an even bigger fan to be familiar with Star Trek in its further incarnations: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, etc.Warning: Huge Star Trek fan is about to write about Star Trek.

Everyone has to eat, even in the 23rd century.  There are a lot of beverages that were favorites of the various crews… Worf’s fondness for prune juice is well-documented.  To this day, I still order tea the iconic way Captain Picard did. And Mr. Scott (Scotty) enjoyed scotch on many occasions.

Scotch

Three fingers of scotch make you a miracle worker.

Yet, aside from the occasional view of the bright blue, nearly glowing Romulan Ale, the still-moving tentacles of Klingon Gakh or some such other slight asides,  food wasn’t really a focus for the Original Series or the Next Generation. The feature of food really came into its own in the third incarnation of the series, Deep Space Nine. Set on a space station in a remote area of the galaxy, combined with the setting of a series of shops and restaurants on the station, allowed for the introduction of new customs and culture into the canon. Crew members met for regular lunches, dinners and happy hours. Crewmen had strong Klingon coffee in the morning and ate dinners with their families at night. The commander of the station, Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, even had a father who was a famous chef in New Orleans back on Earth. Consequently, much of the food in the Sisko household and on the show is of Cajun-Creole origin.

Right away, in the first episode, Sisko is imagining meeting his wife on a beach, offering to make her his father’s recipe for Aubergine Stew. Later in the same season, Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) comes into a room where Sisko is waiting to have dinner with his son, and recognizes the stew right away. Since the two have been friends for years, the implication is that he makes it a lot.

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And it is apparently really enjoyable, best eaten with a giant spoon.

Coming back to Earth for a minute, aubergine is a kind of eggplant. It is very popular in Middle Eastern and Persian cuisine, and is best when paired with lamb. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that the Sisko family is from Louisiana, not Tehran. His father’s recipe would likely be a derivative of khoresht-e bademjan, a kind of Persian Eggplant Tomato Stew, but would have significant differences. Khoresht-e bademjan would have spices from the region: Saffron, Turmeric, Advieh. Sisko’s Aubergine Stew would have spices from Louisiana: thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper – and would more than likely be made with chicken instead of lamb. It would also include what is well-known in cooking circles as the “holy trinity” of cajun cuisine: bell peppers (I prefer green), onions and celery.

Ingredients:
3 skinless chicken thighs
2 eggplants (aubergines), peeled, diced into medium pieces, and salted overnight
(rinse an hour before cooking)
2 onions, diced
2 leeks, sliced into rings
1 bell pepper (again, any color, but I prefer green)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 large can crushed tomatoes
oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin and black pepper, about 1/2 tsp of each
Salt
Olive oil

An hour or so before you cook, rinse the eggplant and dry. Heat oil in a large, deep pan. Sauté eggplant til golden brown, not burnt.

In a large pot or saucepan, heat more olive oil. Cook the onion, garlic and celery until soft, then add the spices and cook for a minute or so until they are fragrant. Add eggplant to the pot then cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until they soften slightly. Then add the crushed tomatoes and mix to distribute tomatoes evenly. Add the chicken to the vegetables, cover the chicken in the vegetable mixture then put the lid on the pot and cook on a low heat for about 45 minutes. When you first add the chicken, it will seem too dry to be left on the burner, but don’t worry… the chicken stock is coming.

photo

When its all done, he vegetables should be soft and the chicken will be falling off the bone.

Remove the chicken from the stew and shred the meat. Set aside, along with about a quarter of the stew mixture. Using a food processor or blender, blend the rest of the stew smooth. Put everything back into the main pot and mix well. It is now ready to serve. Garnish with some green, such as chopped parsley.

photo (1)

I apparently really love parsley.

Khoresht-e bademjan would be served over Persian-style rice. Considering the rice tradition in creole cooking in New Orleans, I think the Aubergine Stew would be nice over rice, but not necessary, as Dax clearly demonstrated with her giant spoon.

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